Archive | Health & Medical

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When we plan on going to college, we think about so many things related to it, including education, campus, and independent life. However, not all students actually have time to focus on the things that may seem less significant – for example, health care.

It might seem irrelevant at the moment. You’re going to start a new life, you have to make new friends, study new courses, manage your finances, and so on. Many students find all of these things already overwhelming enough.

However, learning to take better care of your health is also important. It’s even easier to get sick in college than in high school, because there are so many people living there permanently. If you catch a cold, you’ll have to recover on your own and then struggle to catch up with your classes, so naturally, it’s better to avoid getting sick. But how exactly can students do this?

While it’s impossible to protect yourself from everything, it’s still possible to minimize the risks of getting ill. Here’s how you can do that.

1. Wash or sanitize your hands as often as possible.

As you know, every surface touched by many people is full of germs. You pick them up when touching these surfaces and they accumulate on your hands when you don’t wash them for a long time. If you touch your face with dirty hands, this might cause acne or some kind of a rash. If you don’t wash your hands before touching your food, this might lead to you catching an illness, ones that could range from minor to serious.

Always make sure you wash your hands before eating. And if you don’t have the time or opportunity to do so, try carrying sanitizer with you and use it as often as possible.

2. Clean your room.

Some students don’t put much effort into a clean dorm. However, if you want to take better care of your health, you shouldn’t settle with basic cleaning. Picking up clothes from the floor will make your room look cozier, but it won’t help you avoid germs.

Proper room cleaning means wiping all the surfaces, sweeping the floor, and vacuuming the carpets. Sure, this might be a bit time-consuming, but still, try to do this at least once every couple of weeks.

3. Avoid sick people.

This might not be an easy thing to do, especially if you care about your sick friend or partner. Visiting them with a bowl of hot soup is okay – as long as you don’t stay for long. Avoid sitting next to visibly ill course mates to avoid catching a virus from them. And if you do catch a cold, do your best to stay in your room so you don’t infect others.

4. Take a first-aid kit to college with you.

Sure, this might seem like an unnecessary thing to do, especially when you have so many other things to pack. However, this will help you avoid the unpleasant experience of walking to the nearest drugstore when you’re already feeling sick.

Make sure you have everything you need, from flu treatments to meds that treat stomach diseases. Stock up when you’re running low on certain medications so you’re ready for next time.

5. Be careful with food and drinks.

If you can’t remember how long a certain food has been in your fridge, it’s better to throw it away than to eat it. Be careful when going shopping, too: pay attention to expiration dates and try to remember that some products spoil more quickly than others. This will help you avoid unpleasant stomach diseases and food poisoning.

Also, pay attention to your drinks. When you go to parties, don’t share your cup with anyone. Otherwise, you’ll be sharing all the germs and viruses along with them.

6. Don’t drink if you have antibiotics prescribed to you.

Mixing alcohol with antibiotics will have two unpleasant effects on your body. First, alcohol makes the antibiotics less effective, so if you drink, there’s a big chance you’ll take longer to recover.

Second, taking antibiotics is harmful to your liver as it is. Alcohol affects the liver too, so when you drink, you’re basically doubling the negative effect, making it harder for your body to recover from it.

Avoid drinking until you finish the whole course of your prescription. This will help you get better quicker and minimize the negative impact on your body.

7. Try to build a healthy lifestyle.

College life is overwhelming for many. When you find new friends, go to parties, and try to combine being social with studying, things like sleep and nutrition can seem less significant.

However, a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to prevent illnesses, feel more energized and increase productivity. Getting enough sleep helps you stress less; moreover, getting enough rest is one of the best ways to stay motivated to study. Eating properly ensures that your body gets enough nutrients. Working out makes you stronger, more energized and strengthens your immune system as well. So try building a healthier lifestyle or at least some healthier habits, as this will benefit your health greatly.

Taking care of your health is not easy. It requires paying attention to your surroundings and your lifestyle. However, doing so will help you prevent illnesses and feel more energized during college years. Good luck – stay healthy!

This article was contributed by Lori Wade.

Image by Courtney, Flickr

Going away to college is one of the most exciting times in your life. You have sprouted wings and left the nest, and now you must learn all about independence. One thing that you should have mastered by now is how to eat right. It will be quite difficult to remain healthy with all those late-night study sessions and lack of mom buying the groceries. Nothing goes better with studying than junk food. However, you must stay in top shape to be able to tackle the college life. Here are some tips on how you can remain fit and keep up with all your studies too.

Eat A Well-Balanced Diet

It is difficult to eat a well-balanced diet in a dorm room. From making grilled cheese with an iron to microwave dinners, it can all be a bit unhealthy. You can take charge of your health, even in the most difficult situations. First, you need to make sure that you have healthy snack choices around you. It is just as easy to grab a bag of apples at the supermarket instead of a box of snack cakes. Also, make sure you do your shopping at the grocery store and not at the vending machines in your dorm. These vending machines are made for late night snacking and those who are in desperate need of junk food. Try to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your daily intake.

College students who don’t eat healthy foods are more apt to have focus issues, a loss of energy and an overall poor quality of life. The only way to prevent these things is through nutrition.

Get the Proper Amount of Exercise

Exercise may be the last thing on your mind. It is so easy to be caught up in the demands of college that you forget your overall health. Even if it is just doing jumping jacks and crunches before bed, it can be valuable to your health. Many people enjoy getting out and taking some sort of exercise class. This can allow you to make new friends, feel accountable to a group, and it lets you have fun too.

If you love stationary bikes and music, you might want to lose weight spinning. Spinning classes are all the rage these days. It is a fun way to listen to some tunes and exercise too. You can bring along a friend to chat while biking, which will help pass the time. You may not even feel like you are exercising. The best part is because it is so popular, you will probably find a studio right near your college.

Only 43 percent of students get the proper amount of exercise. You should be getting at least 20 minutes of workout time, three times per week. If you are not getting at least this amount, you could become overweight and have other health complications.

Get At Least 8 Hours of Sleep

Your college years are fun, but they are rough. There will be many nights where you’re cramming late at night for an exam. No matter how big the test, don’t skip out on necessary sleep. Rather than become sleep deprived, you need to give yourself a bedtime. Though you’re not a child anymore, you need to just turn the lights out. Remember, sleep is essential to the body’s ability to rejuvenate.

It is recommended to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Anything less can cause health problems that can be as minor as headache and as major as a reduction in your immune system. When your immune system is not functioning correctly, you will get sick. No college kid needs to fight sickness, especially while trying to cram their brains with newly acquired information.

Take Time for You

You know what they say about all work and no play. While there are many responsibilities that come with being in college, there also must be some time for recreation. Keep in mind, drinking alcohol can have sedative effects that can hinder studies. Find clubs, sororities, hobbies, and other things to do around your campus. Mingle with people of like interests. It is always good to have a strong network of friends to surround you.

Make sure to call home and stay in touch with your family too. Nothing can be more comforting than a conversation with mom or dad. While you are busy sprouting your independence, you want to still include the people at home. They may be going through “empty nest syndrome” from your recent departure, and a phone call could do both of you good.


College is hard. However, you can improve your experience by eating healthy, getting enough sleep and exercise, and having plenty of time for fun.

This article was contributed by guest author Mike.

People of all ages deal with skin conditions such as excessive dryness, acne, rosacea, sun damage and so on. As a matter of fact, approximately 65 percent of individuals worldwide suffer from one form or another of skin disorder caused by improper nutrition and other factors.

Based on this, numerous skin care products have been developed, and every one of them promises amazing results. However, did you know that just by fostering a healthy, nutritious diet, you can promote glowing, healthy looking skin?

The truth is that vitamins are the ones that ensure the right functioning of the body, as well as the health of the skin, nails and hair. The principal source of vitamins is a healthy diet that is rich in fresh foods – and proper hydration cannot be underrated either.

On the opposite side, if you prefer eating processed foods, odds are your body might be struggling with mineral and vitamin deficiencies, which may trigger a range of complications, including skin problems.

Therefore, including plenty of fresh foods such as veggies and fruits is an excellent practice to benefit from the right vitamins that will get you through the day. At the same time, adding the right combination of herbs to your dishes is linked to many advantages. Choosing foods that have a low glycemic index is also a good practice.

After implementing a range of dietary changes, you’ll be dazzled to find out that healthy eating can mean the solution to blemishes, inflammations, premature wrinkles, pimples, and acne.

Allow us to introduce you to the most potent vitamins that promote young and healthy skin! With today’s environmental conditions, it’s important to be mindful of our diets and develop a healthy eating plan that preserves our long-term health.

The importance of adequate skin care

Did you know that the skin is the largest organ of the body? Therefore, it makes sense to take extra care of it. Everything starts with including the right set of vitamins in your diet. You should add more fruits, veggies, whole grains, leafy greens, fish and meats to your meals, and less processed foods, sugary snacks, dairy products, sodas and gluten dishes.

The main vitamins that your skin cannot do without include vitamin A, which plays a significant role in ensuring the health of the skin. That’s why vitamin A deficiency will lead to problems such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis.

At the same time, vitamin B1 insufficiency is translated into the occurrence of premature wrinkles, and other age spots. By adding whole-grain cereals, wheat germ, asparagus, potatoes, tomatoes, and other foods rich in vitamin B1, you can prevent such problems.

When the body’s levels of vitamin B2 are low, it will be crystal clear in your skin’s appearance. Dermatitis and cracks in the skin are often linked to this insufficiency. Making sure that you eat plenty of healthy sources of vitamin B2 is highly recommended. Foods such as spinach, fish, broccoli, eggs, buckwheat and others are excellent additions to anyone’s diet.

Did you know that vitamin K1 insufficiency results in dark circles, irritations, and stretch marks? This is a vitamin that plays a fundamental role in speeding the skin’s recovery, particularly after surgeries. Vitamin K1 can be found in kale, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, swiss chard, and so on. Other vitamins of crucial importance are vitamin K2, E, D, C, B9, B7, B6, B5, and B3. Vitamin C is found in many skincare products and has excellent skin care benefits. For help choosing the best vitamin C serum for face, check out Fix Your Skin.

If you wish to find out more useful information about 14 Potent Vitamins for Younger and Healthier Skin, consult our infographic, which outlines the best foods that you should include in your diet. Remember, your dietary choices matter more than you think! And, sooner or later, they will be reflected in your skin’s health and appearance!

Image by Hannah George

Image by Hannah George

This article was contributed by guest author Hannah George.

Image by PublicDomainPictures,

Image by PublicDomainPictures,

ADHD is one of the most controversial mental health topics nowadays. More and more people are diagnosed with this condition and treatment varies tremendously from case to case. Some ADHD patients get diagnosed at an early age and start medication. However, many still manifest some of the symptoms as adults, and can cause several social problems. If you are a student, don’t let the disorder trouble this exciting period of your life. Here are some recommendations to help you deal with ADHD in class.

Find Out More About This Condition
No matter what kind of ailment you suffer from, treatment starts with a full understanding of what is happening to you. So, start learning more about your condition.

ADHD is one of those interesting psychology facts people can’t stop arguing about. It is a complex matter that raises many questions and doubts for doctors and patients alike. ADHS or the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a chronic condition the manifests itself by:
• Attention loss
• Concentration problems
• Impulsiveness
• Mood swings
• Poor memory
• Anxious behavior
• Motivation loss

Get the Proper Diagnosis and Medication
The symptoms should not scare you. You might have ADHD, but it doesn’t mean you’ll manifest all the symptoms at once or to their full extent. Besides, many things can improve a student’s mental health. The first thing you have to do is get a proper diagnosis from a trustworthy specialist. He or she will then be able to indicate the most suitable treatment for your condition.

There are several types of drugs like Concerta, Ritalin or Adderall that can improve your focus and help balance your emotions. Natural supplements containing omega 3 and omega 6 can also boost the brain’s capacities like memory formation or attention. Whatever treatment you opt for, make sure you thoroughly follow your doctor’s prescription.

Behavior Therapy
This is extremely beneficial especially for young adults who are willing and ready to adapt to a social environment. Behavior therapy can enhance your daily relationship with teachers and colleagues. It can cast away the fears related to your condition and mitigate the emotional ADHD symptoms. This therapy aims to help patients manage the way they act and change unhealthy behaviors related to this condition.

A specialist can help you strengthen your social skills and advise on how to behave in day to day situations. Cognitive behavior therapy is organized both in individual and group sessions.

A balanced diet is recommended to everyone out there, but it is increasingly important to stick to it if you have been diagnosed with ADHD. Try to eat as healthy as you can. Include fresh fruit, vegetables, and lean meat in your diet. Fiber and protein will boost your mood and brain capabilities. Fish is very useful because it contains healthy fatty acids. Water intake should be regular because it hydrates the entire body and enhances concentration. A balanced diet will help you perform better during class and put you in the right mood for studying.

There are also elements you should try to limit. Regarding sugar and caffeine, moderate consumption is recommended because they increase restlessness.

Train Your Mind and Body

Physical Training
Many ADHD patients find it easier to deal with this condition if they practice a sport on a regular basis. Physical exercises help you get rid of anxiety, balance your hormones, regulate your appetite and stay fit. There is no reason why an ADHD patient should not practice a sport, provided that their physical condition allows him or her to do it. Besides, there are many sports you can take up as extracurricular activities. Dance, jogging or swimming will help you relax and give you the chance to socialize with your colleagues outside of classes.

Mental Training
Train your brain the same way you do with your body. Mental challenges like puzzles, quizzes, or crosswords will keep your brain in shape. They will also help you develop the concentration and problem-solving skills that are important while you are a student. Games are fun and can enhance your creativity. Moreover, you could practice together with friends and, again, work on your interpersonal skills while you’re at it.

Improve Your Social Skills

In Class
One of the most common problems caused by ADHD is the impairment of social interactions. People suffering from this disorder find it difficult to commit to strong relationships. Therefore, they often tend to isolate themselves. This only worsens your social life and leads to self-esteem problems. No matter how hard it is, make an effort and go out there. Try to integrate yourself into the picture. Start with small talk and gradually get close to your classmates. Don’t be afraid to open up and ask for help.

After Classes
Support groups are a great idea for students who need a moral boost. Here you can meet other people who struggle with the same problems as yours. This is your chance to talk about your problem with people who fully understand you, under professional supervision. You can share best and worst practices and learn from each other’s experience. Maybe you’ll also make new friends in this intimate environment.

Try to Relax
The idea of relaxation seems utopic in this context, but it is by no means impossible. People with ADHD can learn how to relax. There are common methods that work very well in this case, and one of them is meditation. This is something you won’t master in several months. It takes years of practice to get the full benefits, so start with simple methods like breathing techniques and posture. Thirty minutes of meditation a day will do wonders for your mental balance. It is definitely worth trying.

This disorder should not be treated like other chronic diseases that impede you from a normal life. You can do everything a healthy person does. Keep this in mind and start working on your problems. It’s up to you to control ADHD.

This article was contributed by guest author Mike from TGC Media.

Image by Christopher Campbell,

Image by Christopher Campbell,

College is an exciting time in a student’s life — a movement toward adulthood and its unique freedoms. Along with the privilege of greater freedom, however, comes greater responsibility, including caring for your own health for what may be the first time. Do you know how to stay healthy while away at school? What steps should you take to stay well?

To help answer these questions, here’s a look at some of the top tips to know in order to care for your body while in college:

1. Watch what you eat. Your diet plays a major role in how you feel day to day, but when you’re busy with a heavy class load, a hectic social calendar and other new activities, you might be tempted to grab whatever is fastest and easiest — even if it’s a candy bar. That’s why you need to decide now to prioritize a balanced diet. One great way to do this is by choosing to make more of your own food. When you shop for your own groceries and make simple, healthy meals at home, you can better control what you eat.

2. Drink lots of water. When you lead a busy lifestyle, it’s easy to get dehydrated. Keep a re-usable water bottle with you, drink often and fill it up at drinking fountains on campus in order to keep refreshing your body’s water supply.

3. Stay active. Exercise is about much more than losing weight. The truth is, getting your body moving is important for everything from mental clarity to emotional stability. Whether you participate in pickup sports, join a gym or spend a big chunk of time each day walking all over campus, stay active.

4. Locate your nearest health clinic. Maybe you have an awful migraine from studying all night, or think you may have the flu. It’s important to know where the closest urgent care center or health clinic is in order to maintain optimal health. Your college will likely have this information on hand.

5. Get your sleep. When you’re facing high-pressure deadlines, upcoming tests or the opportunity to party all night, it’s all too easy to miss out on sleep in college — but don’t make this mistake! Missing sleep can mess with your brain function and increase headaches or even weight gain. Instead, try to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.

6. Skip the drugs, drinks and smoking. When you want to stay healthy, choose to avoid drinking, drugs and smoking, all of which can damage your body over time. Skipping these substances helps reduce your risks for various diseases — both now and in the future.

7. Limit sugar and caffeine. Think chugging energy drinks or soda will give you the extra boost you need? Think again. As much as possible, skip these stimulants that typically make you crash a few hours after your temporary high.

8. Protect yourself in the sun. Heading to the beach with friends on spring break may be a college cliché, but it’s a fun one. Whenever you’re soaking in sunshine, however, make sure you take protective measures. Wear sunscreen, and re-apply it regularly. Likewise, skip the tanning beds completely as they can increase your skin cancer risks.

9. Have fun. There’s no denying stress is bad for your body, so do yourself a favor and find things to enjoy in college. Just as important as studying for tests and sticking to a budget is making time to unwind and relax. Whether it’s getting out with your friends for coffee or going for a walk, make time to de-stress. It’s one of the best things you can do for your health.

When you’re young, you might not always feel the urgency for taking care of your health — but your college years are the perfect time to implement healthy habits that continue for the rest of your life! Set good patterns today so you can enjoy maximum energy and mental clarity well into the future.

This article was contributed by guest author Dr. Abhijit Shinde.

Image by Practical Cures, Flickr

Image by Practical Cures, Flickr

Attending college can be wonderful but also extremely stressful. You’ll experience new relationships, have more responsibility, and start making some important life decisions, such as what to major in and what career you wish to pursue. All of this stress can be overwhelming and it can increase if you have diabetes.

Stress, according to the American Diabetes Association, can dramatically raise glucose levels. Prolonged raised blood glucose in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics can lead to a number of complications that range from continued fatigue to vision and kidney problems.

Considering what stress can do to the body, it is important that diabetics continue to monitor their blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, monitoring glucose levels in college often takes a back seat to all the fun and excitement that occurs. This can lead to uncontrolled diabetes and numerous complications.

If you are in college and have diabetes, the following are some helpful tips that will allow you to monitor your glucose levels and control your disease while still having fun.

Create a Daily Schedule That Works for You
Creating a schedule is especially important if you are going away to college. You will be on an entirely new schedule, facing new situations, eating at designated times, and taking part in activities at various times of the day. This will be a new change of pace compared to your life back home. The best way to cope is to implement structure and stick to it.

Before the start of every semester/quarter, create a schedule that works for you. Make sure you include time to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner; as well as several small snacks, time to study, and time to hang out with friends or family.

Of course, it is important to stick to your schedule, but it doesn’t mean you can’t waiver a little bit. If there is a party or a gathering you wish to attend, feel free to do so, just be sure to adjust your schedule accordingly.

Realize the Impact of Drinking
While attending college, you will probably be invited to a fair number of parties, all of which may or may not include drinking. It is important to realize the impact alcohol will have on your diabetes.

Drinking even moderate amounts of alcohol can cause blood sugar to spike. Overdrinking can cause you to experience extreme lows. If you are over the age of 21, you don’t have to completely pass on the alcohol — but drink responsibly based on your body’s tolerance to alcohol.

Be Prepared With Your Medication
Always keep a proper supply of testing strips, insulin and other supplies on hand. You never know when an emergency could happen and the last thing you want to deal with is running out.

If you are going away to college, consider keeping an emergency prescription on hand at the local pharmacy. This will allow you to get your medication or supplies without having to wait.

Consider Wearing a Diabetes Alert Bracelet or Notifying Close Friends of Your Condition
There is no telling when you may experience a medical emergency related to your diabetes. It is important to make sure that those around you know about your condition so they act accordingly.

This doesn’t mean you have to tell every single person you come in contact with, but consider telling close friends and your roommate. If you don’t wish to tell these individuals, consider purchasing a medical alert bracelet or necklace, which will allow individuals to know about your condition should you have a medical emergency.

Just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the college experience. You just have to be smart about it. Follow these tips and you will be able to have a fulfilling and fun time in this new chapter of your life, while still controlling and maintaining your diabetes.

This article was contributed by guest author Thomas Boston.

Image by Peter Hellberg, Flickr

Image by Peter Hellberg, Flickr

When there are finals to study for and frat parties to attend, our health usually takes a back burner during college. Whether this happens intentionally or unintentionally, severe consequences are usually the result.

No One Worries About Vitamin Deficiencies

For many college students, the extent of our concern for nutrition extends to:

  • What seems most edible at the dining hall
  • Which foods can safely be prepared in a microwave
  • How many restaurants deliver
  • The best foods to keep you awake during a late night cram session
  • The easiest things to eat while walking to class
  • Whatever sops up alcohol the quickest

Even if you are the exception to the norm and actually try to eat healthy, there is still a very real possibility you aren’t doing enough.

Nutrients are complicated. They need to be consumed at certain times with certain other foods and at a certain rate each day. College students have enough to deal with—worrying about the recommended daily intake for zinc isn’t high on anyone’s to-do list.

But it’s a pretty safe bet that you will, at some point, think about vitamins. The question is…will you think about them now while you can still do something to guard your health or will you only acknowledge them when you are faced with a deficiency?

Vitamin B12 Takes the Cake

A vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the most common forms of nutrient shortages. This is especially true for college students.

Let’s take a look at some of the most probable reasons for a vitamin B12 deficiency in college.

  1. Your poor eating habits started a long time ago. For most of us, our hectic schedules started back in high school. We’ve been eating poorly for a long time. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning you need to consume it each day. However, the liver is capable of storing some of the nutrient for a short period of time.

    Unfortunately, the liver can only store vitamin B12 for a maximum of five years. That means, by the time you reach college, there is a good chance your B12 levels have already been depleted.

  2. You’re still eating unhealthy foods. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products — beef, pork, lamb, seafood, milk, eggs, etc. It isn’t present in Ramen Noodles, Pop Tarts or Easy Mac. If your diet revolves around those things (and a microwave), you’re doing serious damage to your body.

Getting Help

Let’s be real. You aren’t going to snarf a steak dinner every night of the week. Even if your schedule allowed for a sit-down healthy meal on a regular basis, your wallet sure wouldn’t.

It is probably safe to say you won’t be able to get enough vitamin B12 from your diet alone. You’ll probably need supplementation.

There are two forms of supplementation: oral pills and vitamin injections.

Oral pills might seem like the lesser of two evils. After all, who voluntarily agrees to poke themselves? But for many, vitamin B12 injections are actually the better option.

Oral pills need to be taken once a day (sometimes twice). Vitamin B12 injections, on the other hand, are usually only a once-a-week dose. You’ll only need to remember your supplement once a week, rather than every day.

If you want to talk to someone about the different forms of supplementation, ask your doctor or campus nurse.

Fix it Now!

A vitamin B12 deficiency is only one nutrient shortage you need to worry about. If you are short on B12, you are probably missing out on other essentials too.

Technically, you should work on improving your overall health—getting enough of all the essential nutrients. But if you are only going to focus on one nutrient—make it B12.

Even a mild deficiency can seriously damage your college career. Those who don’t get enough vitamin B12 experience…

  • Exhaustion (the frat parties and weekly cram sessions are tiring enough, thank you very much)
  • Light-headedness (if you are walking up eight flights of stairs to get to your dorm room because someone hurled in the elevator, you don’t want to get tippy)
  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing (the attractive co-ed sitting in front of you in Econ 101 is distracting enough)
  • Pale skin and a sore tongue (totally not cool on the dating scene)
  • Easy bruising or bleeding (unless it is Halloween, you don’t want to look like someone beat you with a baseball bat)
  • Diarrhea or constipation (ew!)

If left unchecked, these issues will only get worse. Since vitamin B12 is responsible for maintaining the nervous system, you can expect to experience mental damage including depression, mania, dementia and possibly Alzheimer’s disease. We’re pretty sure those issues would put a damper on your future career.

Chances are we lost some of you when we first suggested you add one more thing to your overflowing college responsibility plate. But if you’ve stuck around this long, it means you acknowledge the possibility that your diet is pretty lousy. If so, then it is time you did something about it!

Image by Gebbe, Flickr

Image by Gebbe, Flickr

Being isolated in high school translated to me not having a lot of typical social experiences that most teenagers have. I had never been to a real party and I’d never been exposed to alcohol or drugs. That was fine with me, but when I got to university, my ‘uncoolness’ followed me. Everyone wanted to party, and I legitimately did not know how, and I was so anxious and uncomfortable that I couldn’t just give it a shot. In my first year I went to Brock University, which is known for its parties, and I felt miserable and left out.

I am not joking when I say that I did not speak to anyone all year. No one. I hid in my room, I avoided the girl who shared a bathroom with me, and I sat alone in classes. At Brock, every class has a seminar attached to it, and I had a bad habit of not going to them. Luckily, I was still able to transfer to the University of Toronto, where I should have been all along, but I had the same problem there. Needless to say, I could have done better, and my GPA is suffering now as a result of my isolation in those early years.

I’ve been making great progress, but I had a setback this year – I had a major depressive episode in the winter where I was suicidal for a time, and I wasn’t feeling up to doing all of my school work, or much of anything at all, really. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to complete an assignment that I found very challenging, as I felt that I had been pushed to my breaking point already, so I went to the school’s health clinic. The doctor gladly gave me a form so that I could get an extension, and he recommended that I see a psychiatrist as well. I had been on the waitlist for one, but he ensured that I was given a higher priority and I was able to see someone within a week. It’s a good thing that he did – the psychiatrist prescribed me medication, something that I had been avoiding for years even though it had been recommended before. I didn’t think that it would help at all, but it turned out to be my saving grace, and I am doing much better now. I dropped the course that I was struggling in, but I did well in all my others.

I’ve been getting better and better at finding ways to be engaged in classes, even if it isn’t always by talking, and my grades have been reflecting that. I found that I made a significant improvement in my third year, when class sizes shrank to at least half of what they were before. Now, I try to find classes that I think will be small and unintimidating.

I still haven’t really made any friends, only acquaintances, but I’ve gotten more involved with my school’s community through a student group that I lead. I discovered my passion for mental health awareness, and I became president of a group called Active Minds at UofT that is dedicated to just that. Even when I can’t find many other things about school to motivate me, planning events never fails to inspire me and push me to do better in all areas of my life.

Not everyone is going to go through something like this, and I hope that you don’t. But if you find yourself struggling with anything at all, please reach out to the adults and professionals around you. There were times when I felt like doing this was weak – I should be able to get As on everything, no matter what, without anybody’s help. If someone gave me an extension or any kind of help, then I obviously wasn’t smart enough, and it meant nothing. This is not true. Asking for help is brave.

When you ask for help, you’re making yourself vulnerable. I was afraid of being judged, or even simply being told ‘no’. And it’s true that there were some people, even those who were very close to me, who refused to help and distanced themselves from me during my time of need, for whatever reason. But there were still people who did help, like the teachers and counselors and doctors that I’ve mentioned. Some of my friends were great too – when I was at my worst they kept me company and guided me towards whatever I was supposed to be doing next, knowing that to be alone with no routine would probably be the worst thing for me. It is so much better to try than to just drown, thinking that no one will jump in to save you. Even if you’re convinced that you will, what’s the worst thing that could happen if you reach out? Maybe something good will happen. Just maybe. And some day, your future self will thank you.


Four years. It may not seem like a long time, but it’s long enough – long enough to get cavities, need glasses and develop a prescription-dependent medical illness. Health and dental insurance are important to have during your university years.

One may adopt poor eating habits living in residence. Many students don’t know how to cook or find it difficult to make time to cook with their studies. They may resort to junk or fast food, which contribute to obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis and many other diseases. Another downside to poor eating habits is they can cause cavities.

Medical expenses can be costly. It’s even more difficult when you are away from home, as your parents may expect you to pay your own bills. Students tend to have many other expenses to pay that make medical expenses an added cost, such as tuition and book costs. Tuition typically ranges from $5,000 to $10,000 per year and books can cost anywhere from $500-$1,000 per year. Students living on their own tend to have to pay rent as well as utility costs and grocery bills. During school, there is little time to work, so students are usually on a tight budget.

During my five-year university stay, I experienced a chipped tooth and cavities. If I didn’t have dental insurance, it would have cost me $110 to fill the chipped tooth, and $300 for the cavities.

There are many reasons you could be visiting the doctor or dentist this semester. However, you don’t have to pay steep prices. Many universities provide health and dental plans at discounted prices for students. Sacrificing a minimal premium could make the difference between an inexpensive and healthy year, and a very pricey or unhealthy one. Make it a priority to look into your school’s medical and dental insurance at the beginning of the year, and your wallet will thank you.

Image by UrbaneWomenMag, Flickr

Image by UrbaneWomenMag, Flickr

Everyone has exactly 24 hours in a day – how do you spend yours? Studying, eating, sleeping, daydreaming, talking, texting, Facebooking and networking are all frequented activities, but it’s often exercising that gets pushed to the backburner. You’re aware of this, and you keep telling yourself, “I need to find time to go to the gym.” But with a busy schedule, this isn’t always easy. The good news is you can turn everyday activities into quick and easy exercise routines – ones that you can do daily to make sure you don’t let those late-night snacks get the best of you.

  1. Take the stairs

  2. Yes. Put one leg in front of the other and off you go. While you clutch a steaming hot Starbucks beverage with your left hand, reach for the stair railing with your right. Climbing a few flights of stairs is not much, but it certainly counts as exercise if you do it on a regular basis. It doesn’t need to be for 10 flights at a time either; it makes sense to take the stairs for short trips in either direction, rather than waiting for the elevator.

  3. Take over the tap

  4. Sitting for three hours straight while studying in the library can be tiring both physically and mentally. Take five minute breaks every 45 minutes. Brief walks to the nearest water fountain or tap give you time to stretch, hydrate, and clear your mind. Short breaks keep you alert and help you concentrate – you’re also able to retain more information. Take advantage of the breaks your professors give you in class as well – leaving the room for a few minutes does wonders for your energy level.

  5. Get off the bus at the wrong stop

  6. It sounds counter-intuitive, right? You’ve only imagined getting off at the wrong stop after falling asleep or being deep in thought or conversation. It’s good for you! Getting off the bus or train one stop earlier gives you a longer distance to walk, and can be a very enjoyable form of exercise when the weather is nice. When the sun is shining, it can improve your mental health as well.

  7. You are what you absorb

  8. Exercise without proper diet is like a Ferrari without an engine – it looks good on the outside, but won’t get you anywhere. You’ve heard it before – you’re not just what you eat, you’re what you absorb. Oats, vegetables, nuts, fish and all the other healthy food you tend to avoid are vital. Pizza, fries and burgers may be pocket-friendly meals, but they mostly contain empty calories, meaning they keep hunger away but fail to adequately nourish your body. For more insights on your diet, check out 5 ways to stay healthy at school, or the top 10 food items you should have in your kitchen. Remember that eating healthy does not need to be an expensive or time-consuming activity.

  9. Turn your house into a gym

  10. With a little improvisation, you can create your own – inexpensive – home gym. Conduct a quick tour of your kitchen, and chances are you’ll find one or two cans of baked beans or chick peas. With your imagination, you can turn those into dumb bells. They won’t help you build remarkable biceps, but it’s a good starting point. You can eventually graduate to using real weights at the gym or purchasing your own set when you have more time. In your bedroom, challenge yourself to 10 push-ups and sit-ups every morning before stepping out.