University is a big deal for everyone. The straight out of school and college freshers, the mature students, the 19 to 20-year-old inbetweener’s. It isn’t easy and the challenge can take its toll on you. Staying healthy and happy at university are two of the most important things to remember because if you don’t then you can burn-out and it may lead you to drop out, which no-one wants really.
How to stay healthy.
We all know that it’s much easier to ring up for a takeaway (kebab…pizza…parmo…) or whack some noodles or a ready meal into the microwave. Job done in minutes. But having a healthy diet is important for keeping well both physically and mentally.
When I first started at university, I must admit I used to have ready meals every night. I paid for it – I was ill a lot and was constantly tired. When I started to eat meat and vegetables, I felt a lot better. I wasn’t chucking something into the microwave, I was waiting for something to cook and I was cooking myself. I could add what I wanted into my meals and that felt good. I had control of what I was eating.
I used to cook fish, chicken, mince and other meats with carbs like pasta or potatoes. Not forgetting the vegetables! I used to snack on nuts or fruit as well.
You can look at recipes online and set yourself a meal planner, that way you won’t be able to stray away from your set meals. You won’t be tempted because you will have bought the ingredients. Eating healthily is difficult on a student budget, I know, but it is worth it! Use local butchers and fruit/veg stalls if you want cheaper and fresher produce.
Drinking water is also a good thing to make into a habit. You can always make the water flavoured but stick to water if you can. It’s cheaper and it is better for you than the fizzy pop and alcohol you may be consuming throughout your years at university.
The last thing to remember about staying healthy is balance. I let myself have treats now and then – that bar of chocolate or some crisps. I don’t go overboard. Everything in moderation!
If you don’t look after your physical health, you can slide upwards or downwards on the weight scale which can become severe and lead to anorexia, bulimia or even body dysmorphic disorder.
How to stay happy
Mental health is just as important as physical health, if you feel well mentally then you will feel physically well too. I know all too well what happens when you don’t look after your mental health. Stress and anxiety are common at university, as is depression and other mental health problems.
My first tip for staying happy is to have time to yourself. I have time to myself by volunteering because I enjoy my passions. But even I have to kick back and relax for some proper “Sophie” time – a nice bubbly bath, a movie or just reading a book can all help take me away from the stress of university.
Plan. Plan. Plan. This word is something that is and has been etched into my mind since I started university. Time management and planning are key to staying happy. If you know what assignments are due and when and you plan them in advance then you’ll be much better off. Go to the library early and get those books instead of waiting till the last-minute. Sit down with friends and plan your essays. Get things done as early as possible to save you squashing in endless all nighters and sleepless nights. It will help. Promise!
Eating well as I’ve mentioned is another way to stay happy.
Getting a work-balance is similar to the first tip, but make sure you socialise. I didn’t socialise last year (whilst on my social work degree) and I suffered because of it. I was “work work work” orientated in my mind. But this year, I’m making time to go out with my friends, even if it is for lunch once a week. It’s time to think about something other than university and assignments.
I’ve learnt to say “no” to things too, which is always important. You can’t bite off more than you can chew. I’ve done that before and got too overwhelmed. Don’t let that be you. If you say no to something then it’s fine. It wasn’t meant to be. That’s how I look at it now anyway.
Those are my top tips for staying healthy and happy at university.
What are your top tips? Comment below.