#DolphinsLiveWell “Projects and papers and tests oh my!” Staying Healthy During the Busiest Time of Year!

Halloween has officially passed and midterms are but a mere our spec in our rearview mirror.   At this point in time, you are (hopefully!) hunkering down and planning on how to get everything done by the end f the semester!  Besides your academic work and other responsibilities, Thanksgiving is right around the corner as well as a number of other cultural and religious holidays that many of you observe, ending with the Christmas break.


With everything that you’re gearing up to accomplish, experience, and go through, stress levels are going to rise…even holidays can be stressful, both good and bad!  The best way to keep stress from getting the best of you is to stay healthy. When we are overstressed, our immune system becomes vulnerable and less able to fight off bacteria and viruses.  We are then at the highest risk of getting a cold or even the flu… and of course, cold weather keeps everybody inside and “closer than usual”! Below are some tips on how you can really toughen up your immune system and keep yourself healthy and on track to get through the end of the semester’s work as well as really enjoy the holidays!


Getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for yourself in terms of helping to manage stress… and of course, most college students do not get enough sleep.  This means you have to plan better, and not procrastinate, in order to avoid being up all night before a test or project. Planning and managing your time will actually allow you to sleep better;  not only will you be able to get more sleep, but you’ll probably sleep better because you’re not worrying about getting things done! Fun fact: did you know that staying awake for 17 hours is equivalent to functioning with a blood alcohol level of .055…. not conducive to doing your best!!


Eating right is also very important.  Did you know that the molecule in your brain responsible for being in a “good mood” is serotonin?  Serotonin regulates sleep, appetite, memory, and learning, and if you don’t have enough serotonin then all of these areas of your life will be skewed. Serotonin is synthesized from an amino acid, L-tryptophan, which as you will remember from grammar school biology is a “building block of protein”, so the moral of the story is in order for your brain to function optimally, it’s important for you to eat protein.   Make sure you eat lean protein such as fish, chicken, or turkey as well as green, leafy vegetables. Round out your diet with vegetables, fruits, and complex carbohydrates. Your brain nor your body will work…or feel very good on a diet of junk food. Along with eating well, stay hydrated by drinking water…at least half your weight in ounces during the day is recommended.


Exercise is also important in staying healthy and building a strong immune system.  Along with serotonin, other neurotransmitters are released when we exercise including dopamine and endorphins.  Dopamine is the molecule in our brain that keeps us motivated and endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body.   This is why you feel good after you exercise and explains why exercise aids in relieving stress. Aim for 3-5 times a week for 30 minutes.


Lastly, take some time to have some fun whether it is binging on Netflix, getting off campus or out of your room (“change-of-scenery-therapy”!), or just hanging out with friends.  So remember in the busy coming weeks, if you take care of your body, your body will take care of you!