Initially University can seem a faultless place of fun, adventure and free living and there is a honeymoon period that for some extends well into their first year. However at some point be it pressure inflicted by academic, financial, or some other factor, students need to address their lifestyle choices. As much as one would like, University cannot be one big party and I believe success at University or College is largely based on compromise, discipline and balance. For me the very definition of a modern student is a person that seeks to immerse themselves in new experiences and continue to self-improve.
A persons’ health and wellbeing is very important to be able to function effectively in society and University is a perfect place to get the fundamentals right for the demanding professional life you ultimately intend to lead. There are four main areas to Health and Wellbeing and these include: Physical, Social, Cultural and Psychological. We will look at each of these areas and see how you can implement these concepts into your daily life to ensure you maximise your time at University and give yourself a good foundation for your career ahead.
This is quite a simple concept and its one that will have been installed in you from a young age. Exercise, fitness and sport, the moving of the body is fundamental in leading a happy existence. Government guidelines recommend that adults should undertake 60 minutes of moderate exercise a day and this doesn’t mean you have to gear up and go Fencing or Weightlifting but merely a walk or a jog in the fresh air guaranteed it will make the world of difference to both your body and your mind. In one of my previous articles I talked about the Sports Union in Higher Education, BUCS and the vast amount of activity that is available. I feel it’s important students tap into this scene to experience the benefits of meeting new people, trying new activities, improving your body and reducing pressure and stress through the power of physical activity. Nutrition is also vital to ensure physical wellbeing. Avoid feeding your body junk food and expecting your attention levels and cognitive ability to be efficient in Lecturers and your energy levels high in sport. Healthy food is not expensive and can easily be implemented into the student budget. Make sure your hydrated too; a 2% decrease in hydration can lead up to a 20% decrease in concentration and that’s never good when your trying to pass through exams. A simple suggestion would be to treat yourself to a simple diffuser and add real fruit to your water.
I seriously doubt there will be another opportunity in life to meet such a diverse range of people than your time at University. It is inevitable you will meet friends at University that will become lifelong friends. Ensure you socialise and meet new people and this shouldn’t always equate to drinking and alcohol related situations. Join new clubs and societies and develop a healthy desire to meet different people and experience new things. Why not entertain, throw a dinner party or a Tapas in your student accommodation. It’s important to be around people, especially positive and enthusiastic people because they will bring the best out of you. Lucky for you, University campuses and the cities they are situated in will be in abundance of great and inspirational people.
Universities are at the very forefront of developing societies and the opportunity to sample different cultures and customs should be both exciting and inviting. The city you have chosen to study for example will have it’s own character and it’s important to experience the cultures and customs of your new home. Why not study a new language for example, purposely meet international students and build up relationships with students from other countries. You never know it may lead to an exchange visit or opportunities abroad. All life is truly at University and it is yours for the taking. Experience as much you can, when you can.
This is a big factor to success and fulfillment in life and for many people can be a constant battle. Your mind and your mental health must be managed just as you would manage your fitness regimes. Stress and anxiety are at an all time high in young people. With the added pressure of a demanding world, people can struggle to cope. Exams, relationships, missing home and workload can all induce stress related conditions in students. There are many techniques you can use to deal with stress and a personal favorite that I find gives me clarity is Mindfullness. There are many books and on-line resources, which will show you how to do Mindfullness exercises and these can be easily added into your daily routine-consistency is key with Mindfulness. Sleep is also vital to good mental wellbeing. I appreciate there will be some weekends and events were you probably won’t sleep for 24hrs but over wise consistent sleep is important. If you have a smart phone there are some great apps you can use to monitor your sleep patterns and also aid the quality of your sleep. Below is some useful links to resources that can help you discover how to deal with anxiety, stress and develop a strong growth mindset.
These are the basics and by no means a comprehensive list on how to achieve an active and healthy lifestyle at University. A lot of it comes down to choices but these few points should guide you in the right direction. Embrace University and being at the very forefront of society and use it to shape your future self. Create the foundations that will be a blueprint for your health and wellbeing in the future.
Suggested Links For Further Reading:
Be Mindful: Mental Health Foundation
NHS: Anxiety & Depression
Mind: Tips For Everyday Well Being
Some Helpful Apps
A Bit About Our Contributor:
Robert James Woodhead - Lecturer of Essential & Core Skills at Edinburgh College
A passionate educator within the FE sector. Student focused and driven by innovation, quality and challenge. Sports background with an ability to adapt, develop and deliver courses across a range of subject areas.