6 Ways to Start Fresh This Semester

Two girls holding notebooks.What's our New Year's resolution at Her Campus? Beyond acing organic chemistry, we want to help you make this semester way healthier than your last. Everyone knows college is stressful — and in between back-to-back finals, generous helpings of eggnog, and a bit of well-deserved holiday laziness, maybe your health has taken a hit. But now it's time to get back on campus for another whirlwind semester. Here are our top ways to make sure you have the happiest and healthiest semester you can have!

1. Get back into a sleep routine. The CDC recommends 7–8 hours of sleep for adults. So if you're crashing around 2 a.m. and rolling out of bed for an 8 a.m. lecture, you're not getting enough. As if you needed more reasons to get more shuteye, sleep is essential for memory, learning, immune system functioning — the list could go on. Our top tip? Be consistent. Your body will become confused if you're waking up at 7 a.m. on weekdays and noon on the weekend. While it may feel good to have a lazy weekend, it could really mess up your routine during the school week.

2. Find a workout you actually like. Yes, yes, you already know a bit of activity is crucial for staying healthy. But 30 minutes on the elliptical every day can get old very fast. The key to staying in shape is to make working out something you actually want to do! Try yoga or a spinning class, jump into the pool, or just go on long walks through your campus' quad with a friend.

3. Use smart judgment when it comes to alcohol. Alcohol, for better or worse, is an undeniable part of college culture. If you choose to partake, make sure you're doing it safely, and keep in mind that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that moderate drinking is up to one drink per day for women. So keep moderation in mind and follow up each drink with a glass of water. By the way, a red Solo cup of wine is not the equivalent to one drink. Make sure you're not drinking on an empty stomach, and always have a plan before you go out to get home safely when your night is over.

4. Don't be afraid to seek help. Your mental health should be a priority! If you're feeling homesick, overwhelmed, or stressed, it is really worth it to reach out to family, friends, or your school's counseling center. College can be really stressful, so if you feel down this semester, you owe it to yourself to talk to someone. Check in regularly with a friend or a therapist to make sure you're not bottling things up. Be sure to return the favor with your friends, too. Everyone could use a good listener!

5. Find the right birth control method for you. Birth control is not one-size-fits-all, so if you are sexually active, take this semester to reevaluate your current method to determine if it's working for you and your lifestyle. There are so many methods (PDF, 914 KB) out there that it's easy to get confused. Set up an appointment with your health care provider to discuss your options.

6. Eat more vegetables. It's way easier to add something to your diet than to remove something. You're probably not getting enough veggies, and your pizza toppings aren't cutting it. Aim for two and a half cups of veggies a day. Add a cup of shredded kale to your morning smoothie, snack on peppers with hummus for a midday pick-me-up, or throw some spinach in your pasta for dinner. Writing everything down in a food journal is one of our favorite ways to make sure we're maintaining a healthy diet.

Making even tiny moves toward a healthier lifestyle can make a huge difference. Let's make this your healthiest semester yet!

The statements and opinions in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health.