Being in college for the first time is a new experience that many young adults look forward to. However, many don’t realize what a lifestyle change it is and not being properly prepared can make or break not only your school life but your personal life as well. The good news is that it isn’t impossible to manage a college life and still maintain a healthy lifestyle. All it takes is a little know-how and practice.

Life for a new college student tends to be more of a challenge if you happen to go to school out of state or aren’t able to commute to and from school from your parents’ house. Living in dorms or on your own off campus requires a lot of changes in your lifestyle. Dormitories tend to take care of everything for the student but because of the close living quarters and the number of student bodies crammed into these living accommodations, sticking to a fairly healthy lifestyle can be difficult. If you find yourself in this situation the best thing to do is stick to a daily routine that works for you.

Once you’ve figured out your schedule of classes, breaks, etc. talk to your roommate and make sure you are both clear on when you’ll need quiet time in your room for studying, taking a nap, etc. It helps to communicate with your roommate so that you both can establish guidelines that will allow you to live together without any problems. If your dorm is too busy or noisy, then learn to find places on campus where you can study in peace.

A library is a great option. As difficult as it may be, do your best to get plenty of sleep each night. Or schedule your classes with long enough breaks in between that will let you squeeze in a cat nap so that you are able to attend the rest of your classes refreshed and better focused. Avoid eating at the cafeteria or sticking to takeout. Instead, go grocery shopping and get a mini fridge filled with healthy snack foods like fruits and vegetables you can easily munch on during or after classes.

Read More: SIMPLIFY YOUR WORKOUT.

Living off campus in an apartment or house with roommates? Then you’ll want to make sure to establish house rules and create a daily routine for yourself that you can handle. Talk with your roommates to make sure it is understood when quiet time is needed and when it is okay or not okay to have visitors over or throw a party. When grocery shopping, learn how to make healthy choices and try your best to avoid only eating meals that come in a can or box.

Take advantage of your new lifestyle experience by purchasing ingredients and learning how to cook meals for yourself. Even if you aren’t a chef, you’d be surprised by how great it feels to eat a meal you’ve prepared yourself. Carry a bottle of water with you to class and stay away from too many caffeinated drinks as well as snacks filled with sugars and fats.

Being a college student often calls for late nights, little sleep and a lot of stress. Instead of opting for easy solutions like junk food, energy drinks, and other unhealthy lifestyle choices, seek out healthier alternatives. You can find many natural approaches to common lifestyle issues (lack of sleep, stress, poor diet) online. Give these a shot and see how your body responds. If your college has a gym, start using it to keep your body in shape and your mind clear and focused.

workaholic

Are you a workaholic? One in four people say work is the last thing they think about before going to bed and over 40% say it’s the first thing they think about when they wake up. It’s becoming harder and harder for people to disconnect from the office more than ever. Why? Technology is definitely a huge part of staying tethered to the office since we can connect remotely almost anywhere.

An expectation is often set that we are reachable and available at all times, especially if you have a company phone. I also think job security also plays a big part for many people. If you don’t respond to an email, text or phone call immediately, especially if it’s from your boss or someone senior in the company, you may have anxiety and fear.

I’ve witnessed so many people that are slaves to their job; they put so much internal pressure on themselves based on perceived external expectations.

We have allowed work to bleed into our downtime with family, friends and even our “me” time. I work with a lot of people that stay connected because they want to; it’s a choice, rather than an obligation. And from some of the articles and research I’ve read, these folks are also more stressed on any given day.

So why do it? I think the economy is still unstable and employees continue to feel insecure in the future of their jobs. Additionally, they put the expectation on themselves. Work becomes their life.

Not disengaging from work can have some huge health risks, including a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and depression. Scary! It also isn’t good for work in general since research has shown that overwork causes a decrease in cognitive skills, leading to mistakes and errors in decision making.

So how can you break the workaholic habit? It’s all about setting boundaries and expectations. From my own personal experience, before I set my own work-life boundaries, my continuous connection, thoughts, and stress about work not only hurt my relationships, but also made me sick more often.

I believe working longer hours also made me less productive and prone to making more mistakes. It ended up being a downward spiral since being less efficient and making mistakes, led to working more to make up for it… which then led to more stress and anxiety about making additional mistakes, and wanting to maintain a good reputation with my boss and co-workers. (However, I’ve since learned everyone makes mistakes and you will remember your own mistakes more than anyone else will.)

You almost have to start over with a clean slate. For me, that was getting a new job. I took a significant pay decrease and a lower level position, and in doing so set internal work boundaries immediately, which I try to follow the majority of the time.I will only work 8 to 5, unless there is an urgent need to stay later.

I will not stay late to “be seen” by others or to work on random projects.I will create timelines, to-do lists, and deadlines to ensure my due dates for projects are met.I will not take a work computer home or login to work from home, unless absolutely necessary.

I will create a routine that helps me disengage from work. (I will either go to the gym or go running after work almost everyday, and I always take Coco for a walk and read for pleasure for 15-20 minutes when I get home.)

Start small with little things that will help you disengage at the end of the day. For example, create a to-do list for the next day, so you aren’t thinking of it on the way home, at night, or when you wake up in the morning. Once you start setting boundaries and creating new habits, you will see the benefits, such as:

  • enjoying your workday more knowing you have a finite amount of time at the office
  • feeling more confident in the work you dobeing physically and mentally healthier

It’s always about replacing bad habits with good habits.

What do you do to disengage from work? What obstacles stand in your way?