Surviving, if not thriving, as a college student

Surviving, if not thriving, as a college student

Midterm grades were due this week, and though the scramble to finish projects and study for tests is behind us, the all-nighters and 2 a.m. trips to Whataburger are still taking a toll on our bodies and minds.

Busy seasons, like test-heavy midsemesters, wreak havoc on our sleep schedules, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be difficult throughout the entirety of our time as college students.

If only there were more hours in the day, we might have time to fit in classes, extracurricular activities, social time with friends, exercise and homework, all while getting sufficient rest each night. Alas, our time is limited, and when managing our responsibilities, sleep always seems to be neglected. While it’s true that the ramifications of missing an assignment deadline are usually more severe than those that come with missing out on a night of Z’s, making a habit of neglecting sleep can have serious effects on our health and wellbeing. Sleepiness impairs cognitive processes, making it harder to pay attention in class and remember information. Sleep deprivation also leads to symptoms of depression, and true insomnia and depression are commonly linked. It also impairs our judgement and leads to other unhealthy practices, like over-eating.

Speaking of poor eating habits, the college atmosphere is conducive to unhealthy eating. Students tend to opt for quick, inexpensive snacks, which are often not the most nutritious. At Trinity, the PODs, Freshii and Einstein’s do offer some healthier options, but they are still more expensive and come with less variety. After midnight, our options are limited to Whataburger and Taco Cabana, neither of which have many, if any, healthy options. In addition to the foods being unhealthy, the manner in which we consume them is often problematic as well. Stress eating is a common practice among students that can lead to unhealthy habits in the long term. On the other hand, under-eating can also be the result of pressure to attain a particular body shape or weight. Certain dietary habits can be dangerous when eating disorders come into play. These are more serious issues that warrant professional advice.

Stress eating is not our only coping mechanism: we often turn to other substances to calm and comfort ourselves.  Use of alcohol and recreational drugs “” we’ve all seen TrinitySnaps “” is common, and the university has taken steps to promote safe drinking. But alcohol abuse and the abuse of prescription drugs can put students at risk of health emergencies and also lead to the formation of life-long addictions.

These are just a few examples of behaviors prevalent in a college atmosphere that have the potential to become dangerous habits or disorders if not addressed. But on a more positive and seemingly contradictory note, health and wellness technology and services have come a long way on college campuses.

For example, awareness of conditions like dyslexia and ADD has promoted the addition of services to help students succeed in school. Improvements in medical technology allow students who struggle with hearing impairment or diabetes to attend college where, 50 years ago, they might not have been able to.

Most recently, we have made progressive steps in the realm of mental health. Admittedly, we still have a lot to learn and relearn when it comes to addressing concerns of this nature, but students and faculty at Trinity are taking steps in the right direction toward reducing stigmas and addressing needs associated with mental health.

We have worked to collect helpful information about staying healthy and aim to provide ideas of how to do so at Trinity. Turn to our Health Issue insert to learn about what is going on in your body when you have a hangover or how to make healthier eating choices on campus thanks to the ¡Por Vida! initiative. Throughout the special section, students can find information about health-related services on campus they can visit if concerns arise.