University is a great time of your life, but with such a limited budget and time away from your degree to spare, it might also mean that you end up forgetting healthy eating and exercise.
In my first year of university I didn’t really care about either. I was just focused on grades/having a social life. (And I guess with a blog mostly about eating cake and burgers, I’m not exactly that bothered now!) I am of the mindset that as long as you are happy with your body and you feel healthy, then you are absolutely fine and don’t need to change a thing. However, it’s not just about the outside, but also about how you feel psychologically. Nowadays many students suffer from depression and other mental health disorders at some point in their academic career (about 1 in 4 UK adults are diagnosed with a mental health issue in any one year), and that number is increased when living with the day to day pressures of a big city like London. Thus, making a few adjustments to your lifestyle may make you feel a lot better. Here’s some of my tips on how to stay healthy/happy whilst at university:
Join a sports team at your university
Ok, it’s the most obvious starting point. But I have heard that the sports teams always have the best socials. Some universities, like UCL, even give students Wednesday afternoons off from lectures in order to participate in sports matches. From Muay Thai boxing to yoga, there’s plenty of choice.
Take up jogging
If teamwork/sport socialising is not your idea of a good time (it’s not mine either!), then why not go for a jog by yourself or with a friend? This is definitely the cheapest way to get fit – all you need is a decent pair of running trainers.
If you have never ran before, the podcast/app “Couch To 5k” (C25k) is a great starting point to ease you into running. The podcast can be downloaded for free online or free from the NHS on the iTunes store. C25k teaches you endurance by improving the length of time you are able to run for. A voice over tells you when to run and when to walk and gradually builds up to longer runs (and less/no walking) over a programme of 9 weeks of podcasts.
A good session of exercise can not only help you burn off calories, but also improve your mental state. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel better and after a quick run, you should have more energy – this is a great way to break your mind away from the stresses of essays and coursework.
Switch to water
Whether or not you are trying to lose weight, drinking more water can improve your mental health, your skin and how much energy you have. The recommended amount of water to have a day is 8 glasses, something that can be very hard to remember to drink unless you count. Why not take a bottle of water in your bag to lectures and fill it up throughout the day?
Don’t be afraid to tell someone if you’re having a bad time
University isn’t always the most fun/best time of your life. If the stress of coursework, essays and maintaining a social life is getting you down, don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it. Other people in your class may feel the same way. Talk to your tutor is you are struggling, they may be able to offer you an extension.
Universities also offer support in other forms, such as psychological services offering workshops for just about anything from getting over presentation anxiety to overcoming procrastination. Your university’s psychological services also offer free therapy and counselling for its students. Don’t be scared to talk to them if you need to. I’m only in my second year, but I have met many people who have used the psychological service at my university already. No one is ashamed to even tell people they have, as it’s very common. So if you are really struggling with a problem, don’t be put off by what others may think. The service is confidential so not even your department will find out (unless you want to tell them). Google your university and psychological services today.
Change something in your life
Sometimes making changes can be scary, but more often than not it’s actually better for you. Not happy with a certain ‘friend’? Not feeling appreciated? Don’t waste your time. Hate an optional module you have just started? Don’t feel it’s right for you? Ask to switch to something you might enjoy more. Tired of going to the same place out to eat/club? Google your area or look up places near your postcode on Time Out and search for better places to go. Making little changes makes life way more exciting. Don’t get stuck in a rut.
Get a good nights sleep/make time to relax and chill out
Not everything has to be a rush. If you’re feeling tired or stressed, take time out for yourself. Relax and re-group your energy. It’s cliche, but sometimes sleeping on something and leaving it until the morning is better than rushing something haphazardly at 4am (hey, we’ve all been there with essay deadlines!).
Just enjoy yourself and chill out, you’re only young once!
(P.s. I hope you like my new banner/blog theme!)