Staying Happy and Healthy in College

College can be a stressful time, regardless if you’re just starting out as a freshman or if you’ve been there for a few years. Here are self-care tips to keep in mind while you’re away at college:

Make new friends.

In addition to your friendships from high school, it’s important to make new friends in college, as these friends will serve as your support system throughout your college years. Don’t worry if it is taking you longer than expected to make new friends – it will happen.

Don’t face homesickness alone.

If you’re feeling homesick, talk to your college friends about it, because chances are they are feeling the same way. Check in with your friends and family back home. Use a video chat like Skype or FaceTime so you can see your friends and family instead of just talking over the phone. If you’re really struggling with homesickness, talk to your doctor or a counselor.

Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.

A good night’s sleep helps you stay healthy and energized. Aim for six to eight hours of sleep each night.

Exercise when you can.

Exercise helps to reduce stress, so try to be active when you can, whether it’s going for a run, walk, hike or bike ride.

Clear your mind.

If you’re having trouble focusing or studying, take a break, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes. Change up your scenery, whether it’s going to the library, a coffee shop or a friend’s dorm, especially if you’re feeling distracted. If you become tired of typing all the time, take a break and mix it up by reading for a bit or write notes on paper.

Don’t forget to eat and drink enough water.

No matter how busy you are, make sure you take time to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, and drink at least six to eight ounces of water every day.

Be true to yourself.

Peer pressure still exists in college, especially when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Don’t participate in things that you don’t feel comfortable doing, especially if it is illegal. Always make smart choices, and remember that underage drinking has severe consequences.

Pay attention to how you’re feeling.

There will be days when you’re feeling down, but if you’re having these symptoms for two weeks or more, talk to your doctor or see a counselor as soon as possible: feeling helpless, sad or worthless, loss of interest in doing things you enjoy, trouble eating, sleeping and focusing, headaches, stomachaches and other body aches, low energy and extreme tiredness.

Remember, even though you are in college, your UPMC Children's Community Pediatrics doctor is still here to provide care to keep you happy and healthy. If you have specific questions or concerns, contact your doctor’s office.