How to stay healthy at university (both physically and mentally)
Whether you are a new or experienced student, good physical and psychological health are paramount for getting through university. Much to the contrary of student stereotypes, as well as the likes of Fresh Meat, not all students should have to sacrifice basic nutrition and wellbeing to live the ultimate university experience.
We have come up with some tips and ideas for how to stay healthy both mentally and physically during term time to help you stay on your game!
- Hydrate. It’s really easy to lose track of your water intake throughout the day, or simply forget. However, hydration has been proven to improve not only cognitive function, but also improve mood. Carry a water bottle around with you throughout the day so you can track how much you are drinking.
- Vitamins. It’s cliché, but vitamins from fruit and vegetables are essential to maintaining health. Some vegetables are expensive if you’re a student, but try buying bags of frozen vegetables – they are cheaper, last longer and still provide nutrients!
- Sleep well. Sleep is very much an underrated way to stay healthy. Sleep mediates appetite, memory function, physical capabilities, cognitive function, stress levels and mood. So next time you think a good night’s sleep isn’t necessary, think again! Adults need between 6-8 hours per night consistently. Buy good pillows, ear plugs, a warm duvet and if possible, blackout blinds.
- Take some time out. This statement means something different to everyone – for some it may be having an evening of relaxation, and for others it may be going out with friends. In university there are a lot of pressures, and sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in these without taking the time to look after yourself and your wellbeing.
- Prioritise you. Don’t forget to put yourself first sometimes – if you miss one party or want to do something you enjoy, then don’t sweat it. Sometimes you have to be selfish to ensure you are well mentally and emotionally.
- Utilise those around you. Some of us like opening up to others, yet some of us like to be more private. But, by utilising your friends by either telling them about any worries you may be experiencing, or inviting them to spend time if you feel a little low without delving into it, they can help you in both ways.
- Reflect. What makes you feel good? What challenges you? Make sure there is a dose of each in your life – you need positive cues to stay healthy mentally, however a little challenge every now and again can really help you to grow and push your boundaries. Take baby steps though – don’t put yourself in a situation you are very uncomfortable in.
- Use your university services. If you feel as if you are struggling with your emotional wellbeing, then get in touch with your Student Support Centre who have trained professionals to offer support on many levels. This can include over the phone, online and face-to-face counselling.