Staying healthy in the midst of stress


With philosophy papers, chemistry tests, Spanish quizzes and theology presentations, college students do not have the time or energy to make healthy choices with diet, exercise, and sleep. In the American College Health Association report from Fall 2009, 45 percent of college students felt they did not get enough sleep three to five nights in the past week. Less than 30 percent of college students get the necessary three to four servings of vegetables and fruit a day, and less than 20 percent of students admitted to working out regularly throughout the week.

Yet, with a demanding schedule, how are students expected to eat three healthy meals a day, find an exercise routine that works for them and get the necessary eight hours of sleep at night?

Getting sufficient rest seems to be the biggest concern for students on campus. Whether it’s an overactive social life or a demanding curriculum or work schedule, all students

share a common dilemma – lack of sleep. 

For sophomore Katie Ramos, getting enough sleep every night is a difficult task. Due to a loud common room in her suite and the fact that she has 7:30 a.m. classes twice a week, Ramos often feels drowsy throughout the day. Although Ramos uses her headphones to drown out the noise from her suite when she goes to bed early, she also takes naps throughout the day to catch up on her sleep.

“Without a good night sleep, I can’t concentrate or think straight,” said Ramos. “The naps during the day don’t help because they re-energize me and make it harder to fall asleep.”

In fact, the National Sleep Foundation states that a long nap during the day or a nap taken later in the day can severely affect sleeping patterns at night.

Sophomore Yenessi Silie admitted to only getting three to six hours of sleep on a given night and felt that it was difficult to function throughout the day. Yet, more than getting enough sleep, Silie is frustrated with the poor amount of healthy food options on campus.

In Marillac, there are very few healthy options with fast-food, such as Taco Bell and Burger King, having the longest lines. With D’Angelo Food Court’s recent health violations and Montgoris’ lack of selection for healthy dishes, students expressed contempt towards eating well-balanced meals.

As a lifetime vegetarian, Silie expressed dissatisfaction towards the poor quality of vegetables at Montgoris.

“They have salads and they’re not the best stuff. But I make do with what they have,” said Silie.

Ramos tries to keep a balanced diet by regularly buying fruit and yogurt at Marillac or the C-Store. Most students shared the same opinion that it is difficult to sustain a healthy diet with the limited options on campus.

 “I do care about eating healthy, but the institution of St. John’s does not provide the option,” said sophomore, Rob Kerns. “Instead of providing the same general meals everyday, Chartwells should provide healthier alternative options.”

While the dining options at St. John’s do not garner much support, students believe that the gym in the Carnesecca Arena offers lots of options for students.

With numerous treadmills, exercise bikes, lifting equipment and dozens of exercise classes offered regularly throughout the week, students living on campus have no excuse not to exercise.

“I go to the gym twice a week for cardio. Mainly I do it because it’s the only time in my life I’m going to have a free gym,” said Kerns. “But I also do it to maintain an active lifestyle.”

Although Silie goes to the gym twice a week, she is less than excited to use the gym’s equipment.

“Sometimes I don’t go to the gym because I don’t feel like it. But my favorite forms of exercise are field hockey and biking outside which is not an option on campus,” said Silie.

Students can make healthy choices and exercise regularly by finding a routine that works for them. But even in stressful times, students must find a balance in their life to stay healthy. Students must be proactive to sustain their health on campus.

“When college started, time management got more demanding,” said Kerns. “And for a lot of people, making healthy choices fell in priority.”