Wellness is …
… being at your best.
… maximizing your potential.
… improving your quality of life.
The way to achieve wellness is through making proactive, healthy choices. Only you can assume the responsibility for making positive changes in the quality of your life. The road to wellness begins with becoming more aware of your present condition, and then making the conscious decision to change the way you live. The path to greater wellness is through living in a manner that is consistent with your own personal needs, values, and goals.
While there are different pieces to the wellness puzzle, these pieces all impact you as a whole person. Each aspect is an essential component of the wellness equation. As such, when you neglect any one part, you – the whole person – end up in a state of imbalance. Balance is a key component to achieving wellness and optimal functioning. For instance, exercising and eating well are important, but if you are not getting enough sleep, you will fall out of balance. As a college student, attending classes and studying are essential, but if you don’t take the time to develop and nurture friendships, your life will feel out of balance.
In order to live optimally, you must actually make change happen in your life. These changes can range from the obvious – e.g., quitting smoking, exercising – to things you may never have equated with wellness – e.g., expressing your passions and talents, utilizing your unique strengths, and laughing every chance you get. Making changes in your life can sometimes feel overwhelming. Look at the pieces of the wellness puzzle below and decide where you would like to start. Once you begin to make small positive changes in your life, you will feel more able to tackle the bigger changes. Remember, The University Counseling Center is here to help. Please let us assist you in making positive changes in your life and maximizing your potential as a person.
- Physical Wellness: The ability to care for our bodies and maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to minimize the negative effects of stress on our lives.
- Get enough sleep. Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep each night in order to feel well rested the next day. Establishing a regular sleep schedule can help you make sleep a priority. This includes weekends! You may think that sleeping-in helps your body “catch up” on lost sleep throughout the week. In reality, changing your sleep routine by an hour or more will throw your body off for the following week. Stick to a sleep schedule to avoid feeling tired during the day.
- Exercise. Getting some kind of physical activity for 20-30 minutes each day is a great way to beat stress and achieve overall wellness. Not only does exercise relax muscle tension, it also improves your sleep and boosts your confidence. Leave your textbooks at home and listen to some music to give yourself a break from your workload while you work out. Did you know the Leach Center offers yoga classes as well as many cardio activities like spinning and kickboxing? You can even change up your routine and try biking outdoors or playing tennis to keep exercise enjoyable. Try to exercise no later than two hours before you want to fall asleep.
- Skip the temptation of fast food. Although it’s extremely tempting to order pizza at midnight or grab a coffee for breakfast, these options only make it harder on your body to handle stress. Eating smaller, healthy meals every 3-4 hours will help you stay focused in class and keep your body satisfied. Even when you’re in a rush, there are many healthy options on campus that are quick and cheap. Try a smoothie from Energy Zone in the Leach Center or a wrap from the Fresh Food Company for some of the healthier options on campus.
- Put down the coffee. Consuming caffeine 3-6 hours before bedtime can double the time it takes to fall asleep and quadruple the number of times a person wakes during the night.
- Play it safe. College is full of temptation and it takes some planning ahead to stay out of risky situations. Be smart in your choices so you avoid serious problems down the road. Studies have shown that 25% of college students experience significant academic problems as a result of their drinking while 54% of female college students had experienced some type of sexual assault while in school. Many of these situations can be avoided entirely by reducing risky behavior like excessive drinking, promiscuous or unsafe sex, and drug use. Seek out friends who share your beliefs and you will be guaranteed to have a fun-filled, safe college experience you will never forget.
- Environmental Wellness: The ability to appreciate and care for our natural surroundings and for our community at large.
- Save some trees. Americans receive approximately 4 million pieces of junk mail each year so do your part and cancel unwanted magazine subscriptions and catalogs. You can even pay many of your bills online these days which also allow you to save on postage!
- Turn your water off. Turning your faucet off when you brush your teeth can save up to five gallons of water. Similarly, taking shorter showers will cut down drastically on the amount of water wasted on a daily basis.
- Take care of your personal space. We all tend to be happier and less stressed when our living and working environments are comfortable and organized. Take some time at the end of each day to clean up any clutter, wash the dishes in the sink, and fold your laundry so that your personal space continues to be clean and inviting.
- Cultural Wellness: The ability to maintain an understanding of our own cultural backgrounds while recognizing and accepting differences that exist among us.
- Do a self-study. Many people know very little about their cultural heritage and ethnic background. Interview grandparents, parents, and other extended family to get a better understanding of how your family unit has developed and changed over time.
- Attend International Coffee Hour. Every Friday from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m., the Center for Global Engagement hosts a meet-and-greet coffee hour that s free for students. This is a great opportunity for international and U.S. students, staff, faculty, and scholars to get to know more about other cultures and meet people from all over the world.
- Social Wellness: The ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships with those around us.
- Learn how to say no. There’s plenty of time to get involved in different activities on and off campus so don’t try to cram everything in during the first few months. Allow yourself to take on one or two activities outside of classes but remember to keep academics a priority – that’s why you’re here after all!
- Build a social support system. College students are especially vulnerable to feeling socially isolated seeing as how many students are living apart from their families and childhood friends for the first time. However, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone! You’re surrounded by thousands of other students in the exact same position so take advantage of this time in your life to form lasting friendships. Research shows that people with strong social support networks experiences less stress and exhibit better overall health than those people who are more socially isolated.
- Get involved. Did you know there are currently over 500 student organizations on campus including a scuba club, an a cappella group, and an organization solely dedicated to salsa dancing? Check out the FSU Student Activities website to find out more details about each of the recognized student clubs on campus. Another great resource for students looking to get involved on campus and in the greater Tallahassee community is the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement. These opportunities provide a great way to meet new friends and try out some things you’ve always wanted to do!
- Spiritual Wellness: The ability to establish lasting meaning and a sense of fulfillment in our lives.
- Get in touch with your values. Now is the time to take a step back from the values and beliefs imparted to you during childhood and adolescence and determine their relevance in the life you are now creating for yourself. While some beliefs may still hold true, college provides an incredible opportunity to explore other beliefs, traditions, and values in order to find those that are most meaningful to you.
- Find time for relaxation, prayer, or mediation. In the midst of your busy schedule, try to find a few moments each day for spiritual connections. This practice can help in many ways including improving physical health, decreasing stress, and improving overall well-being.
- Occupational Wellness: The ability to achieve personal satisfaction and professional enrichment through work.
- Choose a fulfilling major. When choosing academic courses and contemplating what field of study to pursue, make sure your decision is based on the type of work that is most appealing to you rather than what you feel you “should” be pursuing. Researchers find that those people who are truly successful have been able to do so because they genuinely feel passionate about their work.
- Get to know your co-workers. One of the best ways to create a positive work environment is to establish relationships with your colleagues. Not only is this an excellent opportunity to learn from others with similar interests, it provides you with another form of social support that is essential when you encounter difficulties in the workplace.
- Intellectual Wellness: The ability to create a healthy environment for lifelong learning to take place.
- Plan ahead. Pulling all-nighters is nothing to be proud of and they certainly aren’t worth the trouble. You’re guaranteed to be stressed out over the 15 page paper you have due on Monday if you start writing it on Sunday night. Plan on finishing your assignments at least 24 hours before they’re due. That way, instead of frantically rushing to squeeze out five pages an hour, you can reward yourself for finishing early by going out with friends.
- Don’t skip class. Skipping class to catch up on sleep or to finish up a last minute paper will only hurt you in the long run. Missing notes or quizzes will only add to your stress level.
- Brush up on your study skills. Sign up for a one-on-one instructional session with one of the RENEW peer educators on campus and learn how to manage your time better, study more efficiently, and deal with stress in a more effective manner. Check out RENEW’s website for more information on how to sign up for these free sessions.
- Financial Wellness: The ability to maintain an awareness and balance of your finances.
- Develop a budget and stick to it. Although you may think $5 here and $10 there may not put a dent in your overall cash flow, you’d be surprised at how quickly these types of expenses add up. In order to make your money last you through the school year, fill out a sample budget like the one shown below to help you manage both your income and your expenditures.
- Use caution with credit cards. According to Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest college financing company, undergraduate students are carrying over $3,000 on average in credit card debt. With high interest rates and limited income, college students who rely on credit cards for everyday expenses are going to face even more financial trouble when they graduate. By saving credit cards for emergencies only and by paying off your credit card statement each month, students can maintain significantly higher credit ratings and be in much better financial standing at graduation.
- Emotional Wellness: The ability to experience and appreciate both our positive and negative feelings in order to maintain a state of mental health and well-being.
- Practice optimism. Being optimistic is not equivalent to being in denial. Rather, optimists have a much more realistic outlook on their situations and choose to use setbacks and difficulties as opportunities for personal growth.
- Smile. Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology, found that people with genuine smiles experience happier relationships and overall more positive life satisfaction than people who do not outwardly express positive emotion.
- Seek help. The University Counseling Center is only one resource available to FSU students. Don’t be afraid to ask for help whether that means reaching out to a friend, sharing a personal struggle with a professor, or calling to make an appointment with an advisor or a counselor. There will always be people ready and willing to help, but you have to let them know how.