Welcome back to school. I hope you had a good summer, and are rested and ready to crack open the books and expand your mind. I also hope you had a healthy summer, with time to regroup and take care of your body.
I know it is August, and nowhere near the usual time of year for resolutions, but I’m going to suggest that you think outside the box, always a good habit for a student. How about making one health resolution for the year?
The beginning of a school year is a good time to start things fresh. It’s also a common time for people to let their health slide down the priority list. I have seen this often. You think you’ll get back to exercising after the first busy weeks of class, or you’ll cut down on sweets just as soon as you’ve tried all the desserts in LaPo.
But one thing leads to another, and next thing you know that healthy habit you picked up over the summer is crumpled in a corner of your closet underneath your running shoes.
By now, you know the basics of being healthy. Give your body quality fuel, balance rest and movement, and try not to poison or hurt yourself. It’s pretty simple stuff, but it is not always easy.
I suggest you pick one thing, one healthy behavior that you want to either start or keep, or one unhealthy behavior you want to stop. Then make a plan so that you can incorporate this resolution into your life as a student.
What to pick? It’s up to you, but here are some general categories to consider.
Activity. Your body needs to move. The benefits of exercise range from stress relief to heart attack prevention, with weight loss and body sculpting as nice side effects.
If you started a new exercise habit over the summer, you might want to continue it. Or if you were a summer sloth, you might want to start something now. One way to get or keep exercise in your life is to put it into your schedule, as solid as a class.
Nutrition. Good food habits are often forgotten once school starts. I know, it can be a challenging to-do to get regular nourishing meals. But despite what your heavy eyelids tell you, your body will be happier if you get up and eat breakfast before class. And despite what the commercials tell you, you do not need a triple cheeseburger or a super sized soda.
You are old enough to know what is good for you, and mature enough to make a plan about it. Maybe you want to pick a food habit for your new school year resolution.
Compulsions. Alcohol, weed, tobacco, oxy, sugar, caffeine, Candy Crush Saga… pick your poison. Not all addictions are equal, but all can get in the way of school success or good health.
Is there something you need to give up or cut back on? If you have made progress toward a goal, your resolution can be simply to stay where you are and not backslide.
If you have an obsession or addiction that is cramping your style and you want to quit completely, consider getting some help. You can start with SHAC (Student Health and Counseling).
Other. In this category I would put anything that brings you joy or peace. A weekly phone call home, daily playtime with your dog, a meditation practice, or anything else that you know is right for you to keep regular. Prioritize it.
I am not proposing that you add “Attain perfect health in all ways” to your long list of obligations for the semester. I just want you to treat yourself with the respect and care that you deserve. Choose one health goal and go for it. And don’t forget to congratulate yourself each time you succeed.
Dr. Peggy Spencer is a physician at Student Health and Counseling. She is also co-author of the book “50 Ways to Leave Your 40s.” Email your questions directly to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions will be considered, and all questioners will remain anonymous.