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Whether you’re new to college and you’re still getting your footing or you’ve been in the game for a while, it can sometimes be difficult to put your health first. After all, you also need to manage your social life, school work, and other duties, such as jobs and family obligations. College students have a lot on their plates, but that should be an argument in favor of putting your health first even more, not casting it aside.
Whether your mental or physical health or a combination of the two are in question, there are plenty of reasons to put your well-being first in college, even if it’s hard. You need to focus on yourself and allow for compassion and grace, because that’s the only way to lead a truly balanced, sustainable life in school and beyond. While there are a million reasons you could choose to disregard your health, there are even more to care for yourself properly. Here are just a few of them.
1. You Need to Be Healthy to Get Good Grades
Many college students spend their university years pulling all-nighters, downing coffee, and casting their mental health aside in favor of studying nonstop. While being studious in college isn’t a bad thing, and it’s important to focus on your grades, there can come a time when you take it too far. You might engage in unhealthy habits that eventually end up hurting you, even academically.
It’s scientifically proven that test scores improve with a full night of sleep, not a 24-hour cram session. Your body and mind need rest, proper fuel, and balance to function at maximum capacity. It’s a part of being healthy, which will give you a better foundation for learning. Without it, your attention span and schoolwork will suffer.
2. Prioritizing Yourself
College and grades are important for your future, but so is your well-being. While your marks follow you for a bit after college, you stay with you forever, and it’s important to take care of yourself to stay healthy in the long run. Eating healthier, getting enough sleep, taking the medications you need, or looking after your mental health are ways you can put yourself first. You are the only permanent thing in your life, and you should take that as a reason to care for yourself.
3. Mental Wellness
Whether your self-care comes in the form of going to counseling, doing yoga, eating nutritious foods, or making sure you drink enough water — or perhaps all those things and more — putting your health first shows real payoffs when it comes to your mental wellness. The way you eat, sleep, and exercise directly relates to your happiness, as the body and mind are connected.
Your brain — and by extension, your emotions — needs proper fuel to run at its best. When you treat your body well, the mind will follow, and you’ll have a better, happier college experience.
Showing compassion for yourself might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how difficult it can be sometimes. Self-compassion is simply the act of making sure your needs are met, and sometimes, college can make it feel difficult. When you commit to caring for your health, that agreement is already built into your relationship with yourself, and it can help guide you in other necessary areas of self-compassion.
5. Teaching Yourself Good Life Habits
Unfortunately, many students tell themselves that once college is over, they’ll start leading a healthy life, and everything will magically fix itself once the homework is over. However, things rarely work that way. Other responsibilities — perhaps even bigger ones — arise when school ends. Jobs, career changes, and the new ventures of adult life can often cause stress and require more self-care than ever.
By caring for your health in college, you’re not putting it off until later. Instead, you’re learning how to put your well-being first and building it into your routine now so it becomes second nature. That way, it’ll stick with you for years to come.
Your Health Should Be a Priority in College
Your health should always come first. It’s the foundation that the rest of your life builds upon. No matter what it looks like for you — mental, physical, or both — it’s a part of recognizing the duty you have to yourself. You are a priority, and when you understand that, you can give yourself the compassion you deserve in college and beyond.