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How to Stay Healthy in College

By Steve Smith

The information presented here is true and accurate as of the date of publication. DeVry’s programmatic offerings and their accreditations are subject to change. Please refer to the current academic catalog for details.


December 28, 2022

4 min read


Did you know your health, wellness and lifestyle habits can play an important role in your college education? Good self-care practices can help you maintain a healthy mind and body, allowing you to do your best in everything you’ve taken on, be it a part- or full-time course load, family responsibilities and work or personal commitments.  If you’ve wondered how to stay healthy in college, this article will provide useful wellness tips to use throughout your college career and in your post-graduate life as well.

The Importance of Sleep

Getting enough sleep is one of the fundamentals of good health and will be indispensable as you learn how to stay healthy in college. Good sleep helps with decision making, concentration and memory. Most people need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to feel fully rested. Lack of sleep can make you feel sluggish and unable to concentrate, contributing to difficulties with coursework or other obligations.

Here are 5 tips to get better sleep from the Rutgers University Student Wellness Center:

  • Create a bedtime routine: If you have trouble getting to sleep at night, create a routine that signals your mind and body that bedtime is approaching. Stick to this routine and you may find it easier to fall asleep.

  • Stick to a schedule: This may be challenging with assignments, family, work and other aspects of your college lifestyle, but try to set a strict schedule for sleep hours.

  • Relax before bedtime: About an hour before your planned bedtime, put your electronic devices to sleep and initiate your relaxation routine, which might include breathing deeply, doing a few yoga poses, dimming the lights and making notes so the next day’s to-do list isn’t reverberating in your head.

  • Don’t work in bed: Many students ditch the desk and use their bed as a workspace. This can make it harder to get to sleep. Try to maintain a strict separation between your work and sleep spaces, and use your bed for rest, not studying.

  • Avoid meals or caffeine right before bed: All of these activities throw off your body’s internal clock. Try to finish consuming any food or caffeinated drinks at least a few hours before going to bed.

Nutrition is Key

Along with sleep, nutrition is another aspect of wellness that shouldn’t be ignored when learning how to stay healthy in college.

While it can be tempting− and convenient −to eat foods with unhealthy ingredients, what you eat plays a big role in how you feel and your energy levels.  

Get started on the right foot by maintaining a balanced diet with a focus on fruits and vegetables. They contain filling fiber, have heart-boosting antioxidants and are more nutrient-dense than other food groups. Add healthy protein and whole grains and you’ve got a balanced diet that is more likely to keep you feeling and doing your best.

Sometimes the biggest dietary culprits are of the liquid variety. Limiting drinks that are high in calories and sugar, like lattes, sodas, sweetened teas and fruit juices can help keep you feeling your best. A few more wellness tips in this category include:

  • Don’t fight stress with eating (more about that later).

  • Eat breakfast. Yes, it can be the most important meal of the day. Adding high-quality protein will keep your energy and concentration levels up and reduce the urge to snack later in the day.

  • Remember the importance of hydration. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help boost your concentration while keeping you from overeating. 

Pay Attention to Your Physical Health Too

Let’s talk about exercise. For some of us, it’s part of a routine. For others, it can be challenging to find the motivation. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to health problems like heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should be getting a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise every week. Here are some wellness activities for students that can fit into a busy schedule:

  • If you live close enough to work or school, increase your heart rate and release those mood-boosting endorphins by riding a bike or walking.

  • During 15-minute breaks in study sessions or your workday, take a walk or climb a few flights of stairs.

  • Find something you know will be fun. Playing disc golf on a team or signing up for dancing or yoga are fun ways to exercise. Choosing the activities you enjoy makes it easier for them to become a part of your routine.

  • Don’t forget to stretch first. Avoid injuries and pain by stretching. Your body will thank you later.

  • Squeeze in a workout at the gym before work or during breaks.

  • Exercising with a friend is a great way to make working out more fun and keep yourself accountable. When someone else is relying on you to show up, you’re much less likely to skip your workout. 

Keep Your Immune System Up

According to the CDC, flu viruses typically circulate during the fall and winter, with increased activity beginning in October and peaking between December and February. On college campuses, crowded classrooms and lecture halls are environments where the flu and other respiratory viruses can spread.

Getting an annual flu vaccine and implementing these important everyday preventive measures can help to stop the flu from spreading:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. If these aren’t available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will do in a pinch.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, especially after being out in public.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects on a regular basis to rid them of germs.

  • If you are sick, limit your contact with others as much as possible.

Always consult your healthcare provider for guidance if you’re feeling unwell or if you have any questions about your health.

Stress Management Equals Wellness

When it comes to staying healthy in college, consider more than just your physical health. As you balance your academic, family, work and other obligations, no discussion about wellness activities for students should be complete without considering mental health and stress reduction. To relieve stress, take a brisk walk, do deep breathing exercises, meditation or yoga, talk with a friend or do an activity that you enjoy. This will give your brain a break and help you recharge.

Consider these mental health activities for college students to help avoid stress:

  • Create a routine. Developing a habit of studying, working out and sleeping on a consistent schedule will make it easier to manage your time and your to-do list without feeling stressed out.

  • Exercise. As we mentioned, exercise has stress-reduction benefits, as well as helping you stay physically fit. A workout in the gym or on the basketball court can help make the stress melt away.

  • Improve your time management skills. Conducting a little research to see how you can better manage your time and your to-do list will help you significantly when it comes to completing assignments, your work schedule, studying and other demands.

  • Set realistic goals. No matter how good your time management skills are, sometimes there is just no way you can accomplish everything you’d like to in a day. Knowing how to take a step back and be compassionate to yourself is an important part of learning how to stay healthy in college.

  • Take time to rest. Taking regular breaks and getting enough sleep are both excellent stress reduction measures.

  • Maintain and develop relationships. This will help to minimize the feeling of isolation that can sometimes compound anxiety. Making new friends and spending time the people that you love can help provide a welcome respite from tasks like challenging homework assignments.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. For your own benefit and the benefit of others, learn the signs of depression. If they emerge, tap into student resources or talk it out with a therapist or friend. 

Learn Your Way with Online and Hybrid Options from DeVry

Getting sleep, reducing stress, exercising and maintaining a nutritious diet are all good ways for you to stay healthy and focused on your goals. If you’re ready to pursue in a way that allows you to balance your commitment to education with work, family and other things in your life, we can help. Our flexible learning options allow you to earn associate, bachelor’s or master’s degrees, or undergraduate or graduate certificates 100% online or in a hybrid format. In other words, education here at DeVry is built for you and the way you need to learn.

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