Looking to start good habits for college students?
There’s no limit to bad habits in college, from way too much caffeine and junk food to unhealthy sleep and lifestyle habits.
Whether you’re pulling all-nighters two days in a row, sustaining yourself on chips, or re-wearing the same underwear for a week, it so often happens that college can get you into a cycle of bad habits.
To be honest, I still have a hard time getting rid of some of those habits years later!
I wish I could have set myself up for a better lifestyle in my personal and professional life during my student years.
So in this article, I would like to share some advice to build healthy habits for college students.
What healthy means from one person to another may vary but in general healthy habits are behaviors that will improve your physical, mental, and emotional health.
How Do You Form Healthy Habits for Students?
Habits make up 40% of our lifestyle and can shape your life whether you realize it or not.
But a powerful fact is that you can choose to break old habits and build new ones. All it takes is some time, patience and a lot of perseverance.
From my personal experience, I can say that it’s better to build upon new habits slowly.
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For example, start making a healthy breakfast once or twice a week if you don’t do it at all presently. Don’t put pressure on yourself to master good habits in a day, there’s already enough pressure in classes, jobs, and relationships!
It takes on average 21 days or longer to form a habit, so give yourself time and take slow but regular steps to get better.
21 Healthy Habits for College Students
From freshman 15 to late night in the library (or the weekend), staying healthy in the mind and body can be a challenge. But here’s a list of healthy habits for students can incorporate to make the best of the college experience:
#1. Study at Least 1 Week Before Finals
Instead of looking at your notes one time in a cram session, give yourself more time to read mindfully. It would be ideal if you could go through your notes every now and then as it would drill into your memory but if not that, give yourself 7 days before a big test to review and prevent stress.
Bonus tip: Most classes will get an optional review session and it can help you clear your doubts. Many professors give tips and possible important topics at this point also!
#2. Do Not Forget to Hydrate
This will make a big difference in your energy levels too. If you sleep for 7-8 hours, you are not taking in any water during that period thus leaving you dehydrated as soon as you’re up. So grab drink warm water right after you wake up and carry a water bottle with you to class.
#3. Eat at Least 1-2 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables Daily
You may have heard of the term ‘Eat the Rainbow’ which suggests that you should be eating fruits and vegetables from different colors. Make sure your daily serving has different, brightly colored fruits and vegetables.
This is because each of these colors reflects different phytochemicals as they have different health benefits.
Now just because you’re in college doesn’t mean you can dig into ramen everyday! Get groceries delivered if you’re pressed for time and include them in your daily diet.
Try to step away from packed snacks and choose fruits and you’ll definitely notice an improvement in your skin and energy.
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#4. Workout In the Morning
Now I know that waking up at 6 am is not something you as a student would be into especially if you’ve pulled an all-nighter.
But the key here is endorphins which are the reason you feel happy and accomplished after your workout. If your body is full of endorphins in the morning, you’re naturally going to be happy and positive for the rest of the day.
#5. Turn the Phone Off an Hour Before Bed
Your brain will be mentally stimulated and all over the place!
Phones also emit blue light which tricks your brain into thinking it’s daylight. This means that your body will not produce enough melatonin to get you good quality sleep.
And without being rested, you will not get anything useful out of your classes.
Better yet, put it out of reach from your bed to reduce the temptation to turn it back on and use it in the night.
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#6. Listen to Music That Makes You Happy
By this, I don’t mean ‘You do you!’ or that you should listen to death metal.
So, if you are sad or having a really bad day, don’t put on Someone Like You by Adele or a sad Ariana Grande song. Put on some Spice Girls or One Direction, something that you simply cannot be mopey to.
College can be a time for metamorphosis for many with breakups, friendships being lost or making mistakes. It’s only natural to feel some pain and loss at this age but remember it will pass and make you a stronger person.
Music is a powerful tool for changing your mood. If you’re down, use it to lift you up! If you’re tired use it to boost your energy.
#7. Be Inspired, Not Jealous of Others
In this era of social media, it’s easy to always compare your clothing, body, career or relationships with others. This will end of hurting yourself the most and affecting your mental health.
It is a human tendency to assume that the grass is greener on the other side but you may not know everyone’s life stories. Try your best to not let jealousy and envy take over your life and instead twist this mindset to set higher goals for yourself.
That’s why one of the best healthy habits for students is to get inspired, not jealous! Focus on yourself, not other people.
#8. Print Papers and Projects at Least a Day Before Submission
The world would be a lot better if there was no paper wasted in college but it so often happens that professors find it easier to grade papers than pdfs!
I’m sure you’ve seen it before: Students stressing out near the printer 10 mins before class and the printer breaks down.
This is easily avoidable, simply print out your projects ahead of time and keep them safe in your backpack so that there’s no stress in the morning.
Plus, it gives you an extra day to catch any mistakes and make corrections in time. This healthy habit for students can help you destress and get better grades. Win-win!
#9. Get Involved with Something at College
This is a great way to make new friends and learn new skills. Whether it’s a choir, a language-group, social club, committee, theatre, NGOs or something related to your subject, take the leap and join something in the initial few weeks of college.
This will make you noticeable, expand your social group and may even add more skills to your resume. Plus, if you’re a new student or freshman, getting involved on campus can help you feel more at home and a part of the community.
#10. Celebrate Your Small Victories
You work so hard for success, you need to celebrate them!
If you get an A even on the smallest assignment, treat yourself to some ice cream, go shopping or hit the popular watering holes with your friends! Even if you did better on an assignment than you thought you could celebrate it.
In general, we’re always way too hard and harsh with ourselves. It’s a challenge, especially in college to remain confident and have a strong sense of self-worth when you’re being graded on everything. So, take it easy!
Don’t wait until the end of the term to celebrate and have a good time, find ways for little enjoyment throughout the year. Knowing how to treat yourself is a healthy habit everyone needs to develop in life.
#11. Stay in Touch with People at Home
Many of us leave our friends and family for university whom we would miss at times. So, don’t be strangers and definitely do not depend on Snapchat or Instagram to keep in touch with them.
Give your friends a call now and then (yes a phone call!) and it will keep you in touch with your roots and make you appreciate your life greatly.
Taking a moment to send a personal text, saying that you’re thinking of them and wondering how things are going can go a long way towards sustaining your relationships.
Plus, I’m sure your parents would love to hear from you and how college life is going. One of the best healthy habits for college students is investing in relationships not just on campus, but at home too.
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#12. Write Down All Your Due Dates
This is going to take a little time but as soon as you get that syllabus, get to noting those dates on your calendar. Set reminders, print out the entire semester and post it where you can see it.
Knowing your due dates is one of the best habits for success as a college student. And it teaches you how to be organized and prepared.
This way you can plan your work in advance and not struggle last minute to meet those deadlines. This will also help you schedule flights, vacations or when you can go home and those tickets will be a lot cheaper when you book in advance. Organized and thrifty!
#13. Choose Classes Because of the Professor
When selecting your courses, don’t just look at the class names but also the professor.
This took me a while to realize but when I took classes only according to my interest, the professors were not that passionate about the subject, therefore, making the whole subject uninteresting.
It’s best to check with your seniors or website like ‘Rate My Professor’ to be sure that the class experience will be top-notch.
You can always rely on online courses or the library to gain knowledge on the subjects you couldn’t take.
Plus, by taking multiple courses with a professor you love, you’ll start to build a rapport and relationship with your professor. Which is invaluable for your success in college.
#14. Wake Up an Hour Before Your First Class
Got an early morning class? Or even one in the middle of the afternoon? Be sure to wake up at least an hour before your class starts.
When you have the time to get out of bed, shower, do your hair or make breakfast, that extra bit of time can help set the tone for the rest of the day.
#15. Set Your Goals At The Start Of The Semester
Set goals to get an A for every class even if you’re not used to getting A’s or you know it’s going to be a really hard class. By setting your sights on doing your best, you start the year with confidence.
Set yourself up for an A so even if you fall a little short and get a B, that’s okay! You did your best to reach for an A.
Time and time again, researchers have proven that goal setting is linked to higher-achievement. Those who set goals are more likely to succeed. If you want to be successful in college, in life or your future career, get in the habit of setting goals for yourself.
#16. Start to Ask Questions
If you’re a shy person, you may find it difficult to ask questions or participate in class. But try to raise your hand in class to comment in a discussion or ask doubts as this will benefit your peers and also raise your confidence.
Being able to ask questions helps you not only to become a contributing member of the classroom, but also to build relationships. To live a healthy and happy life both on and off-campus, you need to make connections. Questions are the perfect way to get started.
#17. Record Your Classes
If you’re not a good note-taker like me, you may miss out on important points mentioned in class.
It can be overwhelming when there’s a lot of information and I often got confused if I should take notes or pay attention in class!
Consider recording your classes on your phone or laptop so that you’ll not miss anything again. Plus you can always relisten to these recordings on your commute or while preparing for a test.
Make a point to review your recordings and take more complete notes after class. This helps you develop the healthy habit of being prepared, both for assignments, class discussions, and exams.
When you’re prepared, you’re less stressed and anxious, making this habit key for your emotional health and wellness.
#18. Do Extra Credit
If your professor gives you an opportunity to do extra credit, just do it!
Even if the credit is about 1-2 points, it may take your grade up from a B+ to an A-. Most of the time it’s because your professor can see that you’re putting in an effort.
Putting in the extra work shows that you actually care about your grades, that you’re willing to go the extra mile. This is a valuable trait to develop, especially when you head into the workplace.
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#19. Being Organized
You don’t need to have every kind of school supply or have color-coded highlighters. It’s more about being punctual to class, having done your weekly readings before class and you’re scheduling everything so that you have a routine going on.
This healthy habit is really important in order for you to feel like you’re up to date with the work and are managing an increasing workload well.
Being organized helps you to stay in control, not get overwhelmed and prevents burnout. This is such a serious issue, with 3 out of 4 college students stressed out. Protect your sanity, protect your mental health by being organized.
#20. Don’t Forget to Be Fit
When you’re an ambitious student, there is a mindset that you should spend all your time studying or pursuing opportunities.
This too may lead to burning out, anxiety or even depression. So make use of your campus gym, running track, pool or any physical activity that allows you to break into a sweat. Plus, remember odds are your already paying for these facilities in your tuition, you might as well use them.
#21. Recognize Your Limit
Have you heard of the diminishing marginal return theory? It says that after a certain point if one input variable is increased, the output will begin to decrease.
Sometimes there’s no point in studying after 3-4 hours because you must have overtired yourself. If you force yourself to study for 9 hours, think about how many of those hours were actually useful?
Know your limits and stay within them. That’s one of the best healthy habits for college students and will save you from becoming a workaholic.
Top 10 Unhealthy Habits for College Students
I know you’re wondering, what are some unhealthy habits for students?
Now let’s just do the anti-thesis, check out this list of bad habits that many students can invariably fall into.
#1. Not Going to Class
College is a different ballgame from high-school and teachers and parents will not be able to keep you accountable. It might be tempting to miss classes and sleep in but don’t let this become a habit! College is pretty expensive so you are not only leaving money on the table but you may miss out on important notes, assignments and make a bad impression on your professors.
Punctuality is an important life skill that is crucial in your professional career. Nobody appreciates waiting for someone especially. If you find yourself racing to class all the time, you will need to adjust your habits.
Always being late and running behind is an extremely bad habit you do not want to stick.
#2. Texting or Playing Games in Class
Even if the professor is boring or the subject too dry, if you’re constantly on your phone you will distract not only yourself but also your peers. Don’t be “that person” who clearly doesn’t care or what to be there. Instead, learn how to be present, how to there and be involved. Part of maturing and growing up is participating regardless.
#3. Skipping Meals and Not Eating Right
Without mom preparing your meals or packing your lunch, it’s up to you feed yourself properly. Don’t be too lazy to go to the grocery store, or go to the cafeteria when it’s open.
Proper nutrition is essential for your health and performance in school. Living off vending machines and fast food is also a bad habit that you don’t want to have in college or beyond.
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#4. Not Bothering to Study for Tests
Unless you have a photographic memory, cramming for tests at the last minute is super stressful. Break down the process of preparing into smaller chapters and review them in advance.
When you graduate college and start your career, you’ll have meetings and presentations that you need to be prepared for. Learning this now can save you from a lifetime of having to find ways to deal with stress and anxiety.
#5. Turning in Messy Assignments
Are you turning in untidy paper with crumbled edges or bad handwriting? You might have gotten away with it in primary and high school but this won’t help you in any way in college. Take pride in your work by handing in perfect papers. Surely you’ve heard that presentation is everything.
#6. Not Taking Care of Your Appearance
Haven’t showered lately? What about doing your laundry? Showing up to class or presentations looking like a hot mess is a really bad habit to have in college.
Personal hygiene may seem optional in college, but you do not want to be known as the smelly, messy and dirty person. Brush your teeth, use deodorant, do your laundry, put on clean clothing and groom your hair.
#7. Not Keeping Track of Homework or Tests
Are you depending on your friends or professors to remind you about assignments? This is not a good idea as you will miss out on things thus affecting your grades. Make a habit of being responsible for yourself and your own assignments. If you do need help though, think about finding an accountability partner.
#8. Being the Quiet Student in the Back of the Classroom
Not participating in class is a bad practice which will lower your confidence and your GPA in some cases. When you speak up in class, you can engage with your peers meaningfully and set a good impression on your professors.
Don’t be afraid to speak up and to show others how amazing you are.
#9. Not Taking Breaks Throughout the Day
Do you study nonstop at the library or pull all-nighters writing papers? Be sure to take regular breaks by standing up and stretching, going for a walk, getting a snack and drink.
Breaking up your study time gives your mind and body a rest it needs. Sitting in the same position, looking at your screen for hours on end is not healthy for you. Start taking breaks!
#10. Getting Caught Up in the Social Aspect of College
Of course, having an active social life and partying is a rite of passage in college. And yes, it can be lots of fun! But if you find yourself spending more time doing so than going to class, there might be a problem.
Drinking on weeknights and partying until all hours is the fast lane to underperforming in your courses and potentially even failing a class or two. You cannot be prepared, be present and participate if you’re tired and hungover every morning.
If you find yourself falling into most of these habits, read my list of healthy habits for students above again which will help you get out of this rut!
Start Creating Good Habits in College
Being a successful student to me is not just about grades even though many of the tips will enable you to get better grades in the end.
It is about living your best life whether it’s through learning, making friends and having new experiences while being in a good headspace.
Healthy habits for students is not just a catchphrase but a lifestyle that can help you manage the real world better.
If you thought college was difficult, the real world is much more hectic. With emails, commute, bills, and responsibilities coming at you from every direction, with healthy habits in your life, you can manage all of these much better.
Get Your Printable Habit Trackers
Ready to create healthy habits for students in college? Sign up below to get your printable habit tracker templates, with spreads for 30 and 31 days. Pick a habit to start and make it stick.
There you go! I can go on about this for hours but if you manage to apply even a few of these tips, you will definitely do see some positive changes in your life.
Do share your experience in applying these healthy habits for students in the comments below.
Want to create good habits for success in college? Here's a list of 21 healthy habits for students you need to form. Plus, watch out for these 10 unhealthy habits you need to break. #Habits #Habit #CollegeClick To Tweet
What’s your #1 healthy habit for college students?
More About Guest Contributor
Tanya is an entrepreneur and a digital marketing enthusiast who has 3 startups to her credit. Her biggest dream is to learn something new every day so that at the end of her journey, she can look back at a colourful and knowledgeable life. She loves reading and her pug cocoa!
Last Updated on January 10, 2021