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Back-to-School Health Tips for College Students

Two teenage boys and a teenage girl sitting together outdoors

By Stacy Gilliam

It’s just about that time again – time to head back to classes, exams and all the socializing you can fit in between! Sure, you’ve been doing this school thing for a little while, but it’s never a bad idea to be prepared for the unexpected things life may throw at you. This school year, check yourself on the following:

  • Stress! Class workload (papers, exams and finals!), crazy roommates, challenging relationships and too little sleep from all of the above can cause students to pull out their hair. Battle stress by breathing, finding a quiet space alone, managing your time effectively, and working in some stress-relieving exercise. Try heading off campus to a museum or park. Learn more about college stress. 
  • Weight gain. Fast food, high-calorie cafeteria meals, sugary snacks and beer fests will pack on the pounds before you know it. (Beware the Freshman 15!) Nip an expanding waistline in the bud by balancing your diet with fruit, colorful salads, whole grains, multi-vitamins and a regular dose of exercise. Get tips on eating right. 
  • Shut-Eye. It may not seem important with all the late-night studying and partying you’ll be doing, but lack of sleep affects your mood, judgment, reaction, time, and memory. Try 15-30 minute power naps between classes or work on getting a full, 8-hours of sleep as often as possible. Also, watch the caffeine, which can keep you up longer than you need to be. Read more about sleep-deprived college students.
  • Partying. Remember that experimenting with drugs and drinking can lead you down the wrong college path. Just say no! If you must drink, do it safely, in moderation and around people you trust. Read more about avoiding alcohol and drug temptations. Also, keep late-night hangouts to a minimum. You’ll need to be as alert and prepared for class as possible.
  • Sex. Saying "no" to sex could be a challenge, but you should still make your sexual health a priority when you choose to do it. How? Always practice safer sex by using a condom to help avoid sexual transmitted diseases (STDs) and an unwanted pregnancy. (Use dental dam for oral sex.) Limit your number of partners and pick them carefully. Get tested for STDs routinely. Get tips for protecting yourself.
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