A person holding a coffee cup and enjoying a bowl of cereal while reading a book.

  • Overall Wellness:
    • Find small habits, like a skin-care routine, to anchor your day.
    • Create a comfortable home but separate study spaces.
    • Reflect on daily experiences for emotional processing.
    • Balance positive and negative reflections to avoid negativity bias.
  • Physical Health:
    • Choose healthier dining options for sustained energy.
    • Incorporate designated walks or city exploration to combat sedentary habits.
    • Find enjoyable classes to make physical well-being a regular commitment.
    • Utilize campus facilities and fitness classes for structure.

Taking care of yourself is extremely important, especially as a college student. Navigating your classes, work, and personal life can be a lot for someone who isn’t used to being on their own. This means that a lot of students neglect their health, making any kind of productivity that much more difficult to achieve. Though the stress can get to you, finding balance on the inside can reflect positively on the outside. Below are my college student’s tips to stay healthy with a busy schedule. Use them as your guide! 

Overall Wellness

When considering personal health, a lot of college students write off wellness as extraneous. Establishing boundaries and emotional outlets can significantly improve your daily quality of life. Here are some of my tips that help me feel better about my busy schedule:


Having consistency in your life can help you feel like you have more structure. Don’t go overboard; a few consistent activities each week provide excitement, especially during challenging times. During my first year, my friend and I watched two movies a week. While that might seem like a lot of movies (and it was!), it was something I was excited for each week. 

For a lighter commitment, integrate small routines throughout the day instead of scheduling fixed weekly activities. Something as small as a skin-care routine can add structure to your mornings and nights in a way that bookends your day positively.

Work–Life Balance

Your living space should feel like a comfortable home. However, sometimes we might get so caught up in how comfortable we are that we don’t want to leave when it’s time to study.

I understand…if your bed is comfortable, why not just stay in it to do your math homework? Trust me, it messes with your mind. Each time you glance at your bed, you’re going to think of that calculus problem you freaked out over or that essay you stayed up all night writing, not rest. If you don’t want to leave your room, reserve your desk for schoolwork. This will provide enough separation in your living space. No one wants to look at their bed and feel stressed, especially when it should be the most comfortable part of your room.


Journaling helps me reflect on daily experiences. Especially when it comes to verbally expressing yourself later on. If you’ve already articulated and recounted it to the page, you’ll be better prepared to share it aloud. There are a few risks here: I’ve fallen into the trap of only journaling the bad parts of the day. Resist the temptation to focus solely on negative journal entries because associating journaling with negativity hampers its benefits. Journaling should capture both challenging and positive emotions for reflection.

A woman sitting on a couch and writing in a journal.

Physical Health

Physical health tends to be difficult to maintain with a busy schedule, let alone finding time to work out with a full class schedule. Still, here are some tips that helped me, especially during my first year, as I started taking care of my physical well-being on my own.

Healthy Eating

We have many dining hall options for students to choose from daily, whether they need a quick bite between classes or a sit-down meal. If you’re craving a taste of home, the Kimmel Center Marketplace is known for boasting several international cuisines. If you want something heartier, Third North has a top-rated homestyle station. Additionally, each dining hall has quick-serve options for students to choose from, such as pizza, fries, and burgers. 

It can be easy to fall into the trap of having pizza for dinner every single night, but each of these dining halls also has healthier options for students. Trying new foods can be tough, especially when seeking familiarity, but opting for healthy choices consistently significantly impacts your well-being. Eating right gives you more energy so you don’t fizzle out halfway through the day, and it can fuel productivity!

Designated Walks

New York City is known for being an incredibly walkable city, and many will find that they’re doing a lot more walking than they’re used to. During move-in weekend, I remember fighting sleep at 7 p.m. because of all the walking. As the semester continued, however, I found I mostly just walked to my classes before heading back to my room. I was already so tired from the rest of the day, so taking an extra walk wasn’t on my radar. 

However, only walking to and from my lectures snatched away the enjoyment from me. I had always loved taking walks and now it was something I dreaded. One day, just as the weather started to turn, I walked to the Empire State Building and back. The entire trip took an hour, and when I got back to my room, I felt refreshed. Consciously setting aside the time to walk through the neighborhood or explore new places can leave your mind feeling clearer, but it also gets some physical activity in your day. What I love about my walks is that I can explore parts of the city that I never had time to visit with my friends. By putting in my headphones and walking with no destination, I had a new outlet for the stress of my busy schedule.

NYU Athletics Resources

Across our Manhattan and Brooklyn campuses, NYU has a total of four athletic facilities for students to use. For me, I would have trouble going to the gym because, in my mind, it wasn’t a real “commitment.” Exploring fitness classes across facilities can be a solution for a committed workout routine. Adding a class to your calendar feels more like an appointment so you’re motivated to follow through. Additionally, it can become easier to continue going to the gym as you become more familiar with the facilities.

Great examples of some notable fitness classes include:

  • Core Strength
  • Zumba
  • Vinyasa Yoga
  • Contemporary Dance
  • Interactive Spinning
  • Deep-Water Aerobics

And there are several more offerings as well for students to sift through on the NYU Athletics site. These classes can become a part of your weekly routine and give you something to be excited for! 

A group of female-presenting students on spin bikes.

Bonus: Exam Season

“But what about finals season?”

“I have too much studying to do. I can take care of myself some other time.”

As a fellow college student, I completely understand the struggle: balancing the piles of homework and readings your professors assign while somehow keeping yourself alive? Impossible. Unless…?

If anything, these tips are most important to follow during your exams. Personal health during busy times is essential for true well-being. Taking the time to do even the little things between cracking down and studying for that dreaded exam can greatly improve your mood. Dropping the books to take a walk for an hour or to grab a real meal from the dining hall can give you that extra boost of energy and motivation that can carry you through the rest of your study session.

A group of male-presenting students studying together in the library.

Knowing where to place personal health on the Scale of Priorities™ can be hard for anyone, much less a college student who is living on their own for the first time. Remember these tips when you need a break from the chaos. Even as a third-year student, I struggle to apply these tips each week. No one is an expert, so don’t beat yourself up over taking longer to get in the groove of things, and don’t compare your stress to anyone else’s. Take a deep breath, and take everything step-by-step. Better days are sure to come.

Cecily Johnson is a rising senior from the Philadelphia suburbs studying Film and TV Production, Producing, and French. While on campus she is an Admissions Ambassador, the Treasurer for Tisch-affiliated club The Collective, and a Resident Assistant in a first-year residence hall. Though Cecily loves living a busy lifestyle, she’s often making efforts to slow down a bit as she enjoys taking walks, photography, weightlifting at 404, and trying new foods. In the future, she hopes to work in the media and entertainment field, ideally as a television showrunner, and wants nothing more than to contribute to the creative sphere with her personal touch.