Fall semester has arrived – and if you’re a community college student, that can mean any number of things.
Whether you’re trying to review all of the syllabi for your new classes, picking up all of your books from the bookstore, getting a head start on prepping for midterms, or a mix of the three, there are a few ways you can make sure you’re taking care of yourself and your physical and mental health so you have a stress free and balanced fall semester.
Get Enough Sleep
We know it sounds cliché, but it’s completely true. Getting back into the habit of managing your course load with work and socializing can help develop bad habits. Prioritize getting enough sleep will help the rest will fall into place.
The American Association for Sleep Medicine has a ton of information about the effects of lack of sleep on college students and advice for how to ensure your sleep health is top notch.
If you’re interested in the quick rundown, the AASM’s main tips included: wake up “on time” even on weekends, leave your bed for sleep only – not reading, studying, or watching TV, wind down for 15 to 30 minutes before bed, and don’t go to bed on a super full stomach – have a snack so you’re not trying to sleep while hungry, but avoid going to sleep after large meals.
Get Some Sun
While we’re not plants and photosynthesis isn’t a priority, human beings still require some sunlight to be healthy. The fall is a great time to get an extra mood boost by enjoying time outdoors as the weather reaches the perfect median between the summer heat and the winter chill.
Don’t believe me? Look no further than diseases including Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which cause symptoms of depression for people in the months with less sunlight. Sun exposure also helps our bodies produce Vitamin D, giving us energy, boosting our evening melatonin production, and reducing stress. There is also evidence that sunlight can help improve motivation and cognition in college students. While the days shorten, it is important to remember to enjoy the fresh air between going to your classes.
Of course, even in the fall, it is important to use protection. Don’t go outside without an SPF and don’t stay in the sun longer than necessary, but a few minutes of fresh air and sunshine can make a huge difference in improving your mood and wellbeing.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Whether you’re working or taking a break, changes in routine can cause big changes in mental health. Lack of activity can lead to lack of motivation and symptoms of depression, and working too hard can lead to burnout. Make sure you’re staying aware of the signs your mind and body are giving you and act accordingly.
If you need someone to talk to, check out BetterHelp – and get your first month free and 15% off if you’re a member of Phi Theta Kappa. Many colleges also offer free counseling and mental health services for enrolled students.
It is so important to take care of yourself, so you stay motivated and avoid burnout during your fall semester. We care about you and want to succeed, so do what you need to do to be healthy.