By Malinda Scannell, Nurse Practitioner
How are you prioritizing your own needs while attending university?
Are you getting enough sleep? Experts say seven to nine hours of sleep is recommended for allowing your body to restore itself. Regular adequate sleep is one of the best defenses to ward off sickness and is more powerful than vitamins, exercise and handwashing.
What are you doing for activity? Some form of daily exercise is ideal. You don’t have to go to the gym. Simply walking or hiking for 30 minutes at one time is beneficial for not only your physical, but also your mental health.
Are you drinking enough water? Experts recommend six to eight eight-ounce glasses of water over the course of one day. This does not include tea or coffee, because these beverages cause you to pee off fluid and are dehydrating.
Do you skip meals? Busy lives and stress can cause us to rush through our day, causing us to skip meals or eat on the go. Eating within one hour after awakening is important for fueling our brains after the night’s fast. Ideas for on the go nutritious snacks are trail mix, fresh or dried fruit, veggies (carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, celery) and hummus, single serving yogurt, string cheese, almonds and peanut butter.
Free options in the cafeteria…. Heaven or @#%*? Be mindful of not over consuming foods in the cafeteria. Too much pasta, pizza, French fries, ice cream and sugary drinks can weigh us down. Visualize a healthy plate. Ask yourself, how colorful is my plate? A healthy plate provides lots of color; half is vegetables and fruit, a quarter is protein (chicken, beef, tofu) and a quarter is bread or pasta.
Take a check of your personal hygiene. Regular showers are important to good hygiene. Daily tooth brushing is critical for prevention of dental problems.
Stress. Who needs it? Unfortunately, it happens. Some stress can actually be good for you. Most important is managing your stress so it does not become chronic and pull you down.
How do you manage your stress?
Taking daily action to manage stress is critical to one’s health and academic success. Signs of stress can be eating unhealthy foods, especially when you are not hungry (emotional eating); difficulty sleeping (falling asleep, staying asleep and/or waking up early) and not feeling rested; unsettled digestive problems or stomach aches; headaches; excessive sweating; feeling irritable; experiencing sadness, loneliness or isolation; feeling worried all the time; substance misuse; smoking; neglecting yourself; and missing classes.
Assessing your stress on a daily basis and having a plan to decrease stressors will diminish their impact.
Are you connected? Making friends can be hard. Get involved with events and clubs on campus. Connect by disconnecting from your screens- phones, computers and TV.
Reach out and meet others with real face to face time.
Remember every door at USM is open to help you.
Put yourself first! Self-care is a very important component to well-being and your success as a student.
Need help with any of these self-care tips?
The staff at University Health and Counseling can assist in guiding you.
Contact us on the Gorham or Portland campuses. Phone: 207-780-5411.