There are a thousand ways in which your health can be compromised while studying, from mental and emotional difficulties like stress and anxiety, to physical issues such as developing unhealthy eating habits and drinking in excess. Granted, this is not the most exciting of topics but I would argue it is one of the most important. Any of these issues can result in your immune system being negotiated and before you know it you’re bed-bound watching back-to-back repeats of Jeremy Kyle. So if you want to get the most out of your studies, here are three healthy habits you can put in place to feel your best and keep illness at bay!
Guess who escapes the infamous ‘Fresher’s flu’? He who eats his greens! When I moved into halls I was the first in my flat to have veggies in the fridge. My broccoli looked a little lost among the pizza boxes and microwave lasagnes, but at least I spared myself from partaking in the chorus of coughs that plagued every lecture the following week.
Our diet should primarily comprise of fruit and vegetables as they are loaded with phytonutrients and vitamins, making them the optimum foods for our bodies. For inspiration check out this blog of delicious plant-based recipes which won’t leave you feeling sluggish or hungry!
There are a few healthy habits included in this category. Personally, I find doing 10-20 minutes of yoga straight out of bed while my tea or coffee is brewing sets me up for the day. Instead of diving into to-do lists the minute you wake up, try taking just ten minutes to collect your thoughts and centre yourself, whatever that means for you. You might find that everything else runs a little bit more smoothly after a little exercise to get the juices flowing and release those feel-good endorphins!
Another stress management habit I have developed is getting up early. It sounds obvious, but it’s one thing we students tend to struggle with, particularly at degree level when you might not have anywhere to be until the afternoon. Rising early has many advantages. For me, it’s all about getting things done at a comfortable pace instead of waking at noon and rushing to get everything done. It also means you can generally fall asleep at a reasonable hour, ready for the next day.
Arguably one of the most difficult aspects of studying is knowing when to stop. I think most of us succumb to the pressure of exams and assessments and we often end up with a rather skewed work/life balance. Whether you feel like you’re slacking off a little more than you should (and no, making five cups of tea before starting an essay does NOT count – that’s what we students call preparation) or spending hours locked away in your room with your nose in a book, it’s important to take a step back now and then and recognise where you might be lacking.
Your emotions are key to identifying this; if you find yourself unusually low or anxious for no particular reason, it is likely your work/life balance is askew.
Developing healthy habits takes a lot of planning and effort which can contribute to already existing pressures of uni life. As I always say, the key is to try different strategies and find what works for you.