The Disney College Program is filled with some of my favorite memories of my life. As a fitness professional and wellness enthusiast, I saw how easy it was to get wrapped up in eating ice cream every day and knew if I wasn’t intentional with my healthy habits, I’d stray from my healthy lifestyle. As much fun as working for Disney was, some days were long and exhausting. Even with dark circles under my eyes, the lure of Magic Kingdom was hard to ignore. I learned a lot when it came to finding a work/magical life balance.
Here are my tips for keeping your mind and body healthy during your Disney College Program.
1. Meal Prep
Buy a lunch box, friend!
It’s so easy to live off of churros and pretzels but the best way to keep your body healthy is to pack your own food for your shifts. Having something like overnight oats for breakfast and some snacks plus a sandwich and some snacks throughout the day will keep you fueled. With all of the running around, multitasking and creating magical moments, hunger is a guaranteed side effect.
I tend to get hungry pretty quickly and require lots of snacks. On the days where I didn’t pack enough, I regretted it because then I’d have to go pay for a six-dollar small cup of oatmeal. This reminds me, don’t forget to pack snacks when you’re going to the parks!
Eating well at your apartment and during your workdays makes your body feel healthy and strong so you don’t have to feel guilty while indulging in a jumbo cupcake.
2. Get Enough Sleep
Of course, there are going to be some nights where you’re bonding with your roommates after a long day at the parks and you stay up laughing until 2 AM. I don’t wanna take those memories away from you. But overall, you should be prioritizing your sleep. It’s important because you’re expected to show up at your best Disney self every time you put on your nametag.
Besides, you could be eating well and getting enough steps every day but if you’re not sleeping, you’re still straining your body.
3. Find Alternatives to the Gym
The gym isn’t for everyone. Even as a fitness instructor, lifting weights wasn’t appealing after working for 8 hours. Thankfully, walking around Disney World counts as cardio.
My recommendation is to use a stepping tracker. Tracking your steps will give you a good indicator of how much activity you’re getting and if you need a little more.
4. Do Legs Up The Wall
Even if yoga isn’t your jam, this pose is life-changing. Legs Up The Wall has many benefits, including relieving swollen ankles, knees and reversing the circulation in your body. It also eases headaches and is extremely relaxing.
Chances are, you’re going to be standing and walking around a lot. That’s great for keeping your body active, but if you don’t have supportive shoes and have to work long hours while standing, your feet are going to be tired. It’s possible that your ankles and knees will be swollen as well. This is completely normal, but doing Legs Up the Wall when you get home completely changes the way your feet feel at the end of the day and leaves you ready for a fresh start the following day.
5. Practice Mindfulness
There’s so much excitement while you’re on your program, so it’s important to give your mind a rest. Practice mindfulness by turning your phone off, finding a quiet place, and focus on your breath.
Lovely places to practice mindfulness are your complex’s pool, the Hub grass in Magic Kingdom or in a corner of your favorite resort. I adore Polynesian Resort because the lobby has this beautiful waterfall surrounded by orchids and tropical plants. Outside, there’s a waterfall and beach chairs overlooking a gorgeous lake.
Find a moment of peace during your shift. Maybe slip away to the back to work on restocking or towel folding for a few minutes. For a high alert role like attractions, perhaps observe how many boarding passengers are wearing a red shirt, have Minnie ears, etc.
Anything that grounds you into the present for even just a moment is good.
Sufficient rest days are key since you’ll be so busy with working, park-hopping and making incredible memories. Even though you’re having the time of your life, your body still needs to recover. Rejuvenate by sleeping in, watching TV with your roomies, going for a swim in the complex’s pool or just hanging out in your favorite Epcot pavilion overlooking the lagoon.
7. Hydrate and Wear Sunscreen.
Friend, you’re in Florida. That sunshine is no joke. No one wants sun poisoning or severe dehydration.
Always have sunscreen and a water bottle in your bag. Be sure you have enough electrolytes in your system. And yes, you still need to do all this even if you’re not constantly outside.
Take care of yourself! Your Disney College Program will be one of the best experiences of your entire life. Maintaining your physical, mental and emotional health will allow you to enjoy it to the fullest.
Sending you love and pixie dust,