Heading to college is a significant life achievement. As a college student, you’ll get the chance to enjoy more personal freedom, but you’ll also have more responsibilities. With no one looking over your shoulder, it is easy to let essential self-care go. Using these healthy living tips for college students helps you get through the next four years in excellent health that paves the way for an exciting future.

Avoid the Freshman Weight Gain

Whether you hear 15 pounds or 20, the truth is that you don’t have to gain weight in college. The majority of freshman weight gain comes from eating too much processed food and snacking instead of eating meals. If your college has one, sign up for the meal plan. Dining in the cafeteria gives you more options than ordering out every night. You can also cook some healthy meals using an instant pot and other small appliances.

Practice Safe Sex Every Time

College is a time when many young adults are exploring their sexuality and new relationships. While it is perfectly natural to enjoy a few romantic moments, you also want to make sure that a temporary hookup doesn’t lead to long-lasting consequences. Many sexually transmitted diseases remain incurable, while others, such as chlamydia, can impact your fertility. Make sure to practice safe sex during all of your romantic encounters. Using an at home STD test for discrete testing after you meet up with any new partners can give you further peace of mind about your status.

Take Care of Your Teeth

During the college years, you may still be young enough to avoid many dental health issues. However, that may not last long. Neglecting your teeth now could turn into painful and costly dental problems in a few years. Go ahead and brush your teeth every night, and see a dental hygienist to schedule your routine exams. If you know you’ll be staying elsewhere, then pack a hygiene kit that you can keep in your purse or backpack.

Plan Active Social Activities

Some college students love going to the gym, which is a great way to stay in top shape. If the thought of lifting weights makes you cringe, then you might need to get a little more creative. Planning a group soccer game with your friends or asking that new romantic partner to go for a hike outside are great ways to stay in shape and socialize rather than sitting in a dorm room playing video games.

Remember to Prioritize Your Mental Health

People often paint a glorified picture of college that is filled with parties and romantic encounters. While you’ll be making a few memories, it’s usually normal to experience a high degree of stress. If you find yourself experiencing the symptoms of depression or anxiety, then talk to someone. Many college campuses have counselors on staff, or you might be able to get help from a professor or mentor. Talking it out can help you find solutions for managing your time or relieving stress before it builds up to unhealthy levels. Meditating, journaling, or listening to music are a few good ways to destress when times get tough.

Make Unplugging a Daily Activity

Being offline for even a few minutes might seem risky when parties and social events seem to pop up every minute. However, too much screen time is hard on your mind. Try to dedicate at least an hour a day to being offline. During this time, you can workout, study, or even engage in your favorite hobby. You’ll feel more relaxed and satisfied about how you spend your time.

Over the next four years, you’ll make amazing new friends and learn what you need to embark upon a career. Focusing on your health might be hard when you have to study for major exams, but it is worth it to be able to look your best as you finally get to walk across that stage. Remember to check in with yourself regularly. It is often the smaller changes that add up to the grand total of feeling your best each day.