The Consequences of Not Looking After Yourself in College

Ginger Abbot

Feb 7, 2022

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College is the gateway to adulthood. These years might be the first time you’re living on your own or getting yourself up for school. You might face new challenges, like cooking for yourself. Unsurprisingly, no one will parent you in college, and not looking after yourself isn’t an option. Neglecting your self-care can lead to several negative consequences.

What You May Start to Notice When Neglecting Yourself

When you’re not looking after yourself as well as you should, you may notice yourself feeling different. If you don’t feel up to your usual speed, that’s a sign that you aren’t taking care of yourself properly.

1. You Aren’t Sleeping as Well

Sleep is necessary, especially as you get older and tackle more challenging classes. You may notice that you can’t do classes first thing in the morning or all in a row as you did in high school. Try to keep as regular of a sleep schedule as you can so you can perform well in your classes and enjoy your days off with your friends. Having the right sleeping environment can help you, too. Sticking to a schedule can seem tedious, but getting up early on the weekends can have its perks, such as doing laundry while no one else is around.

2. You Can’t Focus

Lacking focus is never a good sign in college. While it may not always mean that you aren’t taking care of yourself correctly, you can see your lack of focus as a sign that you need to be more in-tune with yourself. Take an inventory of your emotional state to see if you can figure out what’s behind your inability to focus. You need to keep your mind sharp and prepared for anything college life throws at you, whether academically or socially.

3. You Feel Fatigued or Ill

College can often be a petri dish for several bacteria and viruses. When living in a dorm, you might do all you can to prevent yourself from getting sick but still feel ill. Still, if you come down with colds or other sicknesses relatively easily, it might be because you’re not taking proper care of your body. If you don’t rest for the recommended hours of sleep each night, you’re more likely to get sick than other students who get their recommended amount of sleep.

Still, it might be more than just you not getting enough rest. You may not be nourishing your body with the right foods. With many dining halls, you have access to healthy and unhealthy food. Many people will lean toward unhealthy food, especially if they’ve had a long or difficult week. You should aim to have a healthy diet, even when you don’t like it. Nobody will force you to eat your vegetables while in college, so you have to rely on yourself.

How to Take Care of Yourself On Your Own

Transitioning from being under your guardians’ care to taking care of yourself fully can be jarring. However, you can implement a few tactics to slowly learn not to neglect yourself and the signs your body gives you. You aren’t doing yourself any favors by not looking after yourself. Choose to establish good habits that will carry you through college and into adulthood.

1. Pay Attention to Your Body

Your body will tell you when something is wrong with it, so don’t ignore it. If you feel hungry, eat something that will nourish your body. If you’re fighting off sleep, go to bed — staying up might be more of a detriment than turning in an assignment late. Your body consistently sends you signals, such as getting a headache when you spend too much time on electronics, so you must learn to listen to it.

2. Buy Groceries

Groceries are essential, especially if you have access to a kitchen. Having the right food in your dwelling space can help you keep your body nourished and fill it with the energy it needs for all your academic and extracurricular activities. Even if you’ve never tried to cook before, several resources can teach you how to make easy, healthy recipes that won’t take much time out of your day. Remember to restock your groceries when you’re running low, and if you eat at the dining hall, you can balance your healthy and unhealthy meals to give yourself a treat.

3. Eliminate Procrastination

One vice many college students — and adults in general — have trouble with is procrastination. Procrastination can detriment you in all areas of life, in academic and professional settings. As an adult, your boss might task you with a project with a tight deadline. You need to learn how to handle yourself to be trusted to meet specific deadlines. You can consider your schoolwork the same way. To meet your deadlines effectively, you need to squash procrastination.

It’s easier said than done, but once you know how to defeat procrastination, you’ll find yourself completing assignments earlier and earlier. Consider doing a bit of work on your current assignments every night. That way, by not pushing them off until the weekend or the night before you need to turn them in, you’ll be teaching yourself to be diligent with your work.

Avoid Not Looking After Yourself

Now that you’re an adult, you have to take care of yourself. Not looking after yourself won’t fly in the world beyond college, and while you may be able to tolerate a few nights without good sleep now, you’ll pay for doing the same thing in the future. College is the perfect time to start building habits that will serve you well in the future, post-graduation. Your future self will thank you for taking care of yourself in college.

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