College is said to be the best years of our lives. We leave Mom and Dad back at home, and we have new agendas and new sets of rules when we step on campus and embrace our independence. For many of us, it is the first time have to take care of ourselves.
With the freedoms that come with being a college student — such as being away from parents, thinking independently, making decisions on your own and having control over your life — we sometimes forget to mention this sudden and seemingly wonderful freedom can actually be our downfall.
It is scientifically proven our young brains make us think we are invincible. This mindset isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it isn’t necessarily a good thing either. A large portion of college students have never had this sort of control of their own lives, and because of this they end up fostering an unhealthy relationship with their own self-control.
Some college students exhibit this lack of self-control through excessive substance abuse because alcohol is readily available on college campuses. Although alcohol consumption and drug usage are prominent problems on college campuses across the country, people fail to mention the broader problem as a whole: lack of self-care.
You are responsible for your own self-care, but it can easily fall to the bottom of your to-do list.
Unlike at home where parents and elders are always concerned for your health and your well-being, you are on your own when it comes to your health now. Parents and guardians have taught us to develop routines that are good for our health and to stay away from riskier activities, but now we have to learn to put that advice into action.
Although you may have a mother who calls you every day to ask how you are doing and how you are feeling, there isn’t a way for her to check if you actually feel OK, or if you’re actually doing what you say you’re doing.
The primary reason we are all here is to get an education, so schoolwork, classes, exams and papers come as our first priority the majority of the time. The second priority usually falls in between extracurricular activities and having a social life, and sometimes the two overlap. The actual education you receive and the time you spend experiencing college will make you busy enough to forget you are still a human who needs to take care of your body.
Our health often falls to the bottom of the list of things we need of take care of and sometimes doesn’t even make it on the list.
Sometimes we take our health for granted. We go out all night, drink too much, sleep too little, eat unhealthy food, occasionally exchange saliva with a stranger and forget to work out. It’s no wonder the phenomenon of the freshman 15 and the freshman plague exists, even though these are applicable to any grade. We don’t have the time to even think about properly integrating into college life every year because we are so busy.
A balanced diet, which is required to keep us healthy, requires a lot more thought than waiting for someone else to hand you your dinner. If you really care about your nutrition, you have to think about what to eat, where to eat, when to eat and how much to eat.
For one reason or another, we don’t even think about what we are putting in our bodies or doing to our bodies — the bodies that will be with us beyond these four short years of college.
In addition to maintaining our physical health, it is important that we practice self-care and pay attention to our mental health. At times, this is harder than icing a bruise or stitching up a cut. College campuses across the country are making an effort to emphasize the importance of mental health because it is so easy to lose yourself in college. Mental health is something we should all work to care more about, and part of that includes acknowledging you have different emotions and not being afraid to reach out and talk to someone about them.
Take care of yourself. Stay in the habit of planning your meals or organizing movie nights with your friends because simple things like this can promote good physical and mental health. Be aware of what you are putting into to your body and what you are doing with your body. Have fun, but don’t forget to be rational. These are the years where we start forming adult routines, and these routines will become our habits in the future. Make yourself the number one priority. Without your health, you can’t do the things you are here to do.
Gili Remen, ’19, is an assistant sports editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected]