The student life is a busy one. It’s rich with new experience for everyone, as you mix with people you’ve never met before, learn how to manage your time for yourself and try to strike a working balance between studying and having fun. With clubs and societies to join, plays to stage, and sports teams to play for, it can add up to long nights in the library, catching up with overdue essays in a haze of caffeine and sleep deprivation.
The overwhelming nature of the university experience can have knock on effects for student health, both mental and physical. The pressure of achievement at university, combined with the loss of old friendships, and the easy availability of alcohol and other drugs can be a trigger for depression and anxiety, which now effect at least a quarter of students. Alcohol, poor diet and a change in lifestyle to desk bound studying with no enforced activity can impact physical health as well.
Today we’re looking at a few ways to maintain your health in the face of university, so you can achieve everything you want to, whether it’s a first class degree, or playing Hamlet!
It might seem elementary, but keeping your rooms in good order is an important part of feeling good. Whether you’re in the historic halls of Oxford or Sheffield Hallam accommodation, you need your home to be a refuge from the madness of university life. You need somewhere you can relax and study equally, and if your room is a constant mess, it’s just going to erode your mood and leave you feeling stressed out.
Keeping you living quarters in a reasonable state is also an important piece of experience that’s going to serve you well as you move into private rented accommodation and eventually your own post-university homes, as well as shoring up your mental state.
Becoming a student does not, unfortunately, exempt you from the need for exercise. If you don’t make time for physical activity at least once a week, if not once a day, you’ll suffer for it, both mentally and physically.
It doesn’t have to be much – simply taking a brisk walk can raise your heart rate, and alleviate the rigors of sitting at a desk working at essays all day. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed, getting away outside gives you perspective and helps you calm down.
It’s all too easy to fall into a diet of takeaway pizza and kebabs as a student, but this is not just unhealthy, it’s expensive too! Try to find time to cook a simple meal at least once a week – both your stomach and bank account will thank you, and if you have a few friends who can take it in turns to cook for each other, this will help to spread the burden.
If you’re feeling unwell, mentally or physically, make sure you reach out to the help you have on campus. Make sure you’re registered with a local doctor’s surgery, and check with your student union to see what mental health provision you have access to through the university.