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Chapter 10 Taking Control of Your Health

Figure 10.1

Where Are You Now?

Assess your present knowledge and attitudes.

Yes Unsure No
1. I usually eat well and maintain my weight at an appropriate level.
2. I get enough regular exercise to consider myself healthy.
3. I get enough restful sleep and feel alert throughout the day.
4. My attitudes and habits involving smoking, alcohol, and drugs are beneficial to my health.
5. I am coping in a healthy way with the everyday stresses of being a student.
6. I am generally a happy person.
7. I am comfortable with my sexual values and my knowledge of safe sex practices.
8. I understand how all of these different health factors interrelate and affect my academic success as a student.

Where Do You Want to Go?

Think about how you answered the questions above. Be honest with yourself. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your level of personal health at this time?

Not very healthy Very healthy
1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

In the following list, circle the three most important areas of health in which you think you can improve:

  • Nutrition
  • Weight control
  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Drug use
  • Stress reduction
  • Emotional health
  • Romantic relationships
  • Sexual health

Are there other areas in which you can improve your physical, emotional, and mental health and become happier? Write down other things you feel you need to work on.

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

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How to Get There

Here’s what we’ll work on in this chapter:

  • Eating well to stay healthy and at a weight you feel good about
  • Finding regular physical activities you enjoy that will make you healthier and cope better with the stresses of being a student
  • Determing how much sleep your body and mind really need—and how to get it
  • Developing an appropriate and healthy attitude toward smoking, alcohol, and drugs and learning how to change your habits if needed
  • Understanding why everyone feels stressed at times and what you can do about it
  • Knowing what to do if you’re feeling lonely or anxious about school or your personal life and how to stay balanced emotionally
  • Feeling good about your sexuality, having safe sex, and protecting against unwanted pregnancy and sexual assault

Introduction

Health and wellness are important for everyone—students included. Not only will you do better in school when your health is good, but you’ll be happier as a person. And the habits you develop now will likely persist for years to come. That means that what you’re doing now in terms of personal health will have a huge influence on your health throughout life and can help you avoid many serious diseases.

Considerable research has demonstrated that the basic elements of good health—nutrition, exercise, not abusing substances, stress reduction—are important for preventing disease. You’ll live much longer and happier than someone without good habits. Here are a few of the health problems whose risks can be lowered by healthful habits:

  • Cardiovascular issues such as heart attacks and strokes (the numbers one and three causes of death)
  • Some cancers
  • Diabetes (currently reaching epidemic proportions)
  • Lung diseases related to smoking
  • Injuries related to substance abuse

Wellness is more than just avoiding disease. Wellness involves feeling good in every respect, in mind and spirit as well as in body. Good health habits also offer these benefits for your college career:

  • More energy
  • Better ability to focus on your studies
  • Less stress, feeling more resilient and able to handle day-to-day stress
  • Less time lost to colds, flu, infections, and other illnesses
  • More restful sleep

This chapter examines a wide range of topics, from nutrition, exercise, and sleep to substance abuse and risks related to sexual activity. All of these involve personal attitudes and behaviors. And they are all linked together to one of the biggest problems students face: stress.

Everyone knows about stress, but not everyone knows how to control it. Stress is the great enemy of college success. But once you’ve learned how to reduce it where you can and cope with unavoidable stress, you’ll be well on the road to becoming the best student you can be.