Now that we’re beginning the new school year many of us are looking to engage in new experiences and learn new information. In this collegiate realm, many of us deal with balancing things such as classes, work, sports, and a multitude of other activities. With all of these activities to juggle we can sometimes lose sight of what makes us happy, healthy, and well. Let’s uncover some healthy habits for you to explore, discuss how these habits are in fact healthy, and their contribution to stress management

A major philosophy in the well-being of people is defined by the eight dimensions of wellness. These dimensions include physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, vocational, financial, and environmental. At first glance it can seem daunting to think about how “well” you are in each domain, but the truth is these are all subsets of overall wellness and an increase in any one dimension has the potential to positively affect the rest. Engaging in a few new healthy habits could have a fantastic impact on your overall wellness; it’s as simple as changing your mindset or even getting into that vigorous new exercise routine you’ve always wanted to try. Here are some simple and great healthy habits most people can try to manage stress and overall wellness: 

  • Explore Nature: getting outside in a way that interests you is a great place to start! Since we are all a part of the natural world, it would make sense that taking a quick walk around campus or going on a backpacking trip with Outdoor Pursuits would create positive psychological effects

  • Bullet Journal: writing down the best part of your day at the end of the day can help get the mind into a more positive mood, even if there were some aspects of the day that weren’t so great. 
  • Exercise: This is a clear healthy habit that I biasedly recommend as the Graduate Assistant of Fitness and Wellness here at the UNC Rec Center. The proof is in the pudding folks, exercise is the best medicine because of its proven beneficial effects on nearly every health problem from boosting immune function to helping with depression and even decreasing cancer risk/fatality. 
  • Spend time with friends and family: These are the people in life who care about you the most. People are social creatures and we need these social interactions to cheer us up! 
  • Set goals: Setting achievable goals is a great way to manage the stress associated with a large workload. Follow the simple S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound) goal formula and you’ll be a pro goal-setter in no time! 

 A healthy habit doesn’t have to be purely physical in nature, as exercise is, but it can be something to help benefit you in the other dimensions of wellness. Doing something to increase physical health is always a plus but there are also habits that allow for healthy relationships and a healthy mental state. The UNC Campus Rec Center is always a great place to develop some new healthy habits of your own. Come join us for an energetic group fitness class or get a team together and crush it on the intramural fields. Getting involved in these activities is a great way to increase not only your physical wellness but also your social and emotional dimensions as well.

Overall, engaging in a new healthy habit that increases your wellness in any dimension is the goal. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor is a book written about the psychology of happiness and the main premise is that if you are happy you will succeed, not the other way around. So, go out, do stuff that makes you happy, and the stress of daily life should melt away!