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Thursday, September 28, 2023
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How to stay healthy as a freshman

Freshman year is a very exciting time. Everything is new: friends, living environment, eating habits, social life, school and much more. One thing that almost every incoming freshman experiences is the inevitable cold. All of the changes, excitement and exposure to new people and things make you extremely susceptible to getting sick. 

This is the reality of freshman year; however, here are a few tips and tricks that can help you fight the germs and feel your best!   

First, pace yourself. Many freshmen, including myself a few years ago, dive in headfirst and forget that you can’t do everything all of the time. This go-go-go mindset is typically not sustainable and disregards the importance of pausing to enjoy the excitement and the newness. Taking the time to relax and have a night in, not only is a great chance to recover, but can be an opportunity to get closer with friends or floormates. A little bit of relaxation goes a long way in staying healthy, feeling your best and enabling you to do your best. 

Second, water is your best friend. It is very easy to get swept up in the array of caffeinated beverages and the coffee spots scattered throughout campus; however, the simple act of prioritizing drinking water in your daily liquid diet will go a long way in keeping your body nourished. 

Third, there’s the “freshman diet.” Like the many students that have come before you, it is easy to be drawn to the chip section in Flamingo Run and operate on a consistent diet of quesadillas from Gordon’s. Although delicious, it is important to visit the salad bar and have some fresh fruits and vegetables. It seems obvious, but this is likely the first time you will ever have had complete control of what you eat and when and remembering that choosing healthy food will pay off in the way you feel is a valuable lesson to learn. 

Additionally, it is equally easy to have a cup of coffee and a granola bar every morning and abandon the concept of traditional meals. I would encourage you to look at your schedule and find the time to sit and eat meals each day. Not only is planning times to eat well good for your physical health but it can also be a chance to connect with those around you. Some of my favorite memories of freshman year were when my floor would gather for Friday morning breakfast in Gordon’s. 

Finally, feeling good mentally is a key to feeling good physically. Being healthy is multifaceted, and it is important to give ample attention to both your mental and physical wellbeing. College can be challenging, and these challenges are much more manageable when you feel grounded. There are many ways to nourish your mental health whether it is through exercise, art, nature or exploring Madison’s numerous options, so don’t be afraid to see what is out there for you!

No matter how much self-care and healthy nutrition you give your body, the chances are you will catch the freshman cold at some point, and honestly, that is part of the fun of this whirlwind time. I would encourage you to practice being intentional with how you treat your body because freshman year is a lot more fun when you feel your best!

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