Prioritize self-care this new year

Amid the New Year’s resolutions to hit the gym more, eat healthy and set a goal weight, there are some resolutions for mental and physical health that might be more valuable lifestyle changes for the average college student.

For example, regularly spending enough time sleeping, getting enough nutrients or paying attention to one’s mental health could have a positive impact on a student’s daily life.

Unfortunately, while these goals sound relatively easy to fit into one’s schedule, a college semester can potentially wreak havoc on students’ health as school and work become more important priorities. The trials of students’ responsibilities might include the average six to nine hours of study time per class each week, not to mention the additional hours spent at work.

Even though fitting in time for one’s biological and mental needs seems mundane in comparison to a drastic lifestyle change such as going to the gym at 6 a.m., making the goal to do so is beneficial to one’s well-being, which often doesn’t come first before more immediate priorities.

Much has been written about how college students have a tendency to be sleep-deprived zombies. Students might know from personal experience that lack of sleep can lead to an “impaired mood,” “compromised learning” and even a decreased GPA, effects reported in a Nature and Science of Sleep article.

Aside from the ways lack of sleep can hurt a student’s performance, common sense shows a good night’s sleep helps people feel better and more alert. Many times, these benefits trump the detached, fuzzy feeling caused by an all-nighter.

Also, while skipping meals or eating convenient foods with fewer nutrients might give students a little extra time, that’s probably the only benefit of doing so.

A study from Oregon State University found that students don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, with many of the students surveyed not even eating one daily serving of them. This problem could be caused, in part, by not eating enough meals, as some students reported.

Eating well may not be as exciting as a New Year’s diet plan, but it can help students feel more energized and focused. As with sleeping, students shouldn’t aim to improve their eating habits only to ensure they perform well in school or work, but also for general wellness.

One’s mental health could be just as easy to ignore as one’s sleeping or eating needs, too.

The prevalence of mental illness among college students shows that this issue should not be neglected. A survey from the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors found that 41.6 percent of students experience anxiety and 36.4 suffer from depression.

If students think they might need help, the best route is to acknowledge this need even if they don’t think they have the time to seek counseling, whether on or off campus.

School and work can certainly muddle a student’s bodily and mental health, and adhering to these needs will benefit in more ways than scoring well on a test. Making time to address these basic necessities may be at the bottom of a stressful student’s to-do list. However, to even begin making a change, one must look at these needs as a priority as important as a midterm exam and face them full-force.

Though these resolutions are challenging commitments that require an adjustment, students should dedicate time for their personal health to learn to deal with needs they will have long after the semester’s end.

Isabelle Cavazos is a junior majoring in English and Spanish.