Written by James Hughes – Student Writer
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is difficult to prioritise amidst all the external stresses of student life. But is this neglectful way of living preventing many of us from reaching our full potential and staying happy?
Unlike other aspects of health, self care isn’t one we shy away from talking about. Most of us probably discuss it on a day-to-day basis. In fact, we probably have the same thoughts as the person we are talking to. A simple admission of “I could do more to lead a healthier lifestyle”, justified with a more defensive “but I’m not that bad” is a fair summary of our self-care dialogue. However, this disregard for something so severe has, unsurprisingly, severe consequences.
University is a fast-paced environment, full of perfectly legitimate reasons for a student to self-diagnose themselves with anxiety, stress, and even depression. A student’s diet is renowned for its inclination towards microwave meals over a healthy diet. The chaotic environment you find yourself in demands more ‘me time’. So why not start now? Before you continue reading, go and make yourself a cup of fresh coffee, or pour yourself a cold refreshing water. Put your phone on silent, and just breathe for a moment. If you don’t come back, I will be slightly offended, but at-ease, knowing I helped kick start your ‘me time’.
It is important to throw yourself into new experiences whilst studying. Meet new people. Try new hobbies. Explore new cultures. But if you manage to enjoy these new experiences and still look after your physical and mental health, your university lifestyle will be all the more fulfilling. Stop reacting to those Pinterest or Instagram images of the perfect cultured lifestyle, and start being proactive with your own lifestyle.
The best advice I can give to help kick-start this lifestyle is to prioritise your mornings. It is proven that we are more responsive, productive, and absorbent in the first few hours of the day. So why do we waste these? I’m not suggesting waking up at sunrise; just set your alarm an hour earlier for the first week and progress slowly. Whilst your Uni friends are recovering from the night before, you can enjoy the bliss you have allowed yourself. Start to think about what you will do today to be productive, and how you’ll achieve these goals. Whether you tick off every item from your to-do list is irrelevant; you’ll find yourself more at peace the next time you see others freaking out about deadlines or finances.
Here are a few pro-active suggestions that helped me to achieve a lifestyle that took care of myself without needing to give up any guilty pleasures:
- Be an Early-Riser: Set your alarm clock an hour earlier and make your mornings count. Relax or work; it’ll pay off either way. Drag yourself away from that pillow. Even if your tongue feels like a towel.
- Music: I have several playlists on Spotify that were created to ease stress, encourage productivity, and minimise those worrying ‘what if’ thoughts. Select your favourite artist and blast out those tunes. Sing along in the shower, or listen on the train with a wry smile.
- A Global Menu: Find new exotic recipes and discover healthier foods, full of the things that will take care of your insides and leave you glowing. Check out local charity shops for recipe books from all over the world.
- Neglect your Smart-Friend: Turn off notifications for all those applications that pester you unnecessarily during your day. We’ve all been there. We pick up our phone for ‘five minutes’ and put it down an hour later.