Let's get past the typical student stereotype of being lazy, drinking too much and living off pot noodles and beans on toast. University provides you with a lot of opportunities to be healthier than you have ever been before. Here are a few ways in which you can keep physically and mentally healthy throughout your university years.
As students, we don't want to or have time to cook lavish meals which take 2 hours to cook and have 15 ingredients (all of which are expensive). We want convenience. However, convenience does not necessarily mean microwave meals or takeaways. There are many healthy and quick meals that you can make on a budget. Stir Fry's, for example, take only 10 minutes to make and are crammed with lots of veggies.
Also, if you're smart with where you shop then you can fill your weekly trolley up with lots of goodness for £20-£30 (shoutout to ALDI). Another great way of saving time and money is to cook for the week ahead every Sunday night. Buy lots of vegetables and meat and make a stew that can be put in the freezer - just don't forget to take it out on the night before to defrost!
If you're a sporty person or want to get into sports then there are lots of opportunities for you at university. Firstly, there are lots of sports clubs you can join from rowing to football and even ice hockey. Sports clubs are easy to join, are always accepting new members and are a great place to make new friends.
There are still lots of different ways you can keep fit if you're not into sports. Instead of getting the bus to uni, why not walk instead? You could also perhaps invest in a bike and cycle around the city. The university gym is also a great option and is often cheaper than other regular gyms. Take part in one of the many classes such as yoga or pilates, get lifting weights to build your strength, or have a half an hour run on the treadmill.
One important factor in keeping a healthy mind is getting a decent night's sleep. We tend to have irregular sleeping patterns due to hitting the clubs a couple of times a week, studying until the early hours of the morning and waking up early for lectures. If you can get a good sleeping pattern, this will do you a whole lot of good.
Try turning your laptop and TV off an hour before you sleep so that your mind has a chance to wind down. If you have noisy flatmates, invest in some earplugs. Avoid working late at night and work on your essays in the day instead. Not only will getting better sleep help you feel mentally refreshed, but it will also make you feel a lot happier and healthier.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. University can be very stressful at times, so it's important to take care of yourself and relax. Every week, schedule in some time which is just for you. This is your downtime to do whatever you want to do. This could be doing some meditation, baking, painting or listening to your favourite music. It doesn't have to be a lot, but this small timeout can make a huge difference.
It's also important to recognise when there's an issue. Many students will brush off feelings of extreme stress and will put it down to the student lifestyle. Talking about your feelings as soon as they arise will be hugely beneficial. Talk to a friend, tutor or family member over the phone. Keeping these feelings to yourself can be harmful. If you are feeling extremely down then it's important to remind yourself that you are not alone and many other students feel the same way. Make sure to reach out to your university's student wellbeing support service if you need the support.
Lauren Buck is a Criminology and Psychology graduate, freelance writer, blogger and Etsy store owner. She writes about a variety of topics including student and career advice for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in placing graduates in the best London roles.
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