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An elephant is balancing on the front two feet on a beach ball on the sand of a beach. The other two legs are being held in the air. The words above the elephant say "creating a balanced lifestyle" and the words below the elephant say "balance is the key to life"

Creating a Balanced Lifestyle

By Karin S. Ryan, M.A. and Kelly Machan, M.A.

Eat Well!

A well-balanced diet, and eating meals throughout the day, will give you optimal energy and concentration.

  • Chocolate and caffeine can leave you dragging after the "buzz" wears off.
  • Too many salty snacks (chips) can dehydrate the body and brain, bringing on fatigue.
  • High fat meals raise stress hormones levels and can keep them high.
  • Eat breakfast and try to include protein.
  • Get in every food group, every day (milk/dairy, meats/beans, fruit, vegetables, grains)

Avoid Unhealthy Habits

Drinking caffeine, smoking cigarettes, alcohol use, and using marijuana all significantly impact your cognitive, emotional, and physical health.

  • Remember that caffeine is a stimulant, can lead to dehydration, and is addictive. Caffeine also increases symptoms of anxiety and panic.
  • Individuals who binge drink are 8 times more likely to miss class, fall behind in school work, get injured, have unwanted pregnancies, have STI's, and sexual dysfunction. So be thoughtful and conscientious when drinking alcohol, there are significant consequences.
  • Smoke inhaled from marijuana contains 50-70% more carcinogenic toxins than tobacco smoke, and marijuana use can cause deficits in mathematical skills, memory retrieval, and shrink the brain. Stop kidding yourself that it is harmless and stop using pot.

Move that body!

Exercise has so many benefits, that it is always worth the time and effort.

  • The benefits of exercise include: increased energy, enhanced mood, increased self esteem, increased mental focus, decreased risk of heart disease and breast cancer, increased stamina, reduced depressed and anxiety, better sleep, enhanced immune system, decreased stress levels, and enhanced coordination and balance.
  • When beginning an exercise routine, start simple, such as walking, biking, or playing a favorite sport or hobby.
  • Make exercise part of your daily routine, it will be hard the first few weeks, but once you get going you will have more energy and motivation.
  • Find a workout friend, join a club, or participate in intramurals.

Catch good sleep!

Getting the needed quality and quantity of sleep is critical to your daily functioning and well-being.

  • If you find yourself thinking or worrying when trying to fall asleep, make of list of what you want to do or think about in the morning, write down your thoughts/concerns in a journal or blog, and remind yourself that you can address it in the morning.
  • Create a sleep schedule, trying to go to bed and wake up at a similar time each day.
  • Have a relaxing routine before you go to bed (such as a shower/bath, reading, stretching) and avoid medications, caffeine, action movies/tv, and stressful events.
  • Create a good sleeping environment, one that is quite, dark, comfortable, and clean.
  • Do not study or "hang out" on your bed, because this can train your brain to be awake and alert while in bed.

Have a positive attitude!

Happiness and health are connected; one's level of happiness impacts one's level of health.

  • Try to be aware of when you are being self critical and challenge those negative thoughts will more realistic ones.
  • Give yourself credit and praise where it is deserved; acknowledge your strengths, successes, and hard work.
  • Healthy relationships are linked to strong immunity and overall health, so surround yourself with people/friends that make you happy and feel good.

© All staff articles are used by permission of the respective author(s). Copyright belongs to the University Life Café. No part of this may be used without authorization.

Creating a Balanced Lifestyle (pdf)