Going to university is, for most people, the first taste of real freedom. Unfortunately, it’s also the first time you have to take real responsibility for everything in your life, including your health. Check out these simple tips for keeping fit and healthy, and you can enjoy the good times that much more.
Image by greggavedon.com
Get Organised to Beat Stress
Stress: a student’s number one natural predator, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The main cause is simply a lack of organisation. I know, I know; “Organisation?! But I’m a student!”
I’m not suggesting that you ditch your social life and force your friends to book appointments, just that you exercise a little bit of self-control. Plan a flexible timetable for your week, with generous allowances for any work you might need to get done, as well as time to enjoy yourself. You’ll probably pick up a whole load of new hobbies at university, so a timetable is a great way to dedicate some time towards them, too!
By knowing when you should be working, and on what, you can knock stress out of the park before it becomes a problem. It’s true what they say – sticking to a plan can set you free.
Get Some Sleep
Whether you stay up all night partying or gaming, it’s easy to get carried away with the student lifestyle of late nights and lie-ins. Apart from being bad for your general health, lack of sleep can cause stress, and you really don’t need that in your life!
Avoid drinking too much caffeine, too. Apart from it giving you the jitters, your body will actually build up a tolerance. That means you have to drink more just to feel awake, and drinking a shot of espresso won’t give you the same ‘kick’ it used to. There are better things you can blow your budget on.
Gym memberships can be incredibly expensive, but a lot of universities provide discounted, or even free, facilities for students. Take advantage of that if it’s available!
Even if you don’t have easy access to a gym, make a few adjustments to your lifestyle to get your blood pumping. University often means plenty of moving to and from campus, so walk whenever possible. During times of the year with fewer classes, make time every day to go outside. Even if it’s just a five-minute walk down the road and back, your body will thank you for it.
Cook Real Food
Every student loves pizza (and pizza companies love students), but try to cut back on the take-away food and cook for yourself on a regular basis. I’m not expecting every student to aim for a Michelin star, but get hold of a cheap student cookbook and cook a meal at least three times a week.
You’re in full control of your diet for the first time in your life, so try eating fruit and vegetables you’ve never tried before. I’ve known students go from hating an ingredient to loving it, just because they cooked it themselves.
Having a decent repertoire of home-cooked meals is also a great way to make friends. Everyone loves a good cook!
Okay, I want you to stop for a second and pay attention to your mouth. Does it feel a little dry? If so, then you’re already getting dehydrated. Go get a drink of water and come back.
Dehydration can come in varying amounts, so you might not always feel thirsty. You need to be proactive when it comes to getting enough water. Try carrying a bottle with you when you go to class. It’ll help you avoid headaches, as well as making you less likely to grab a sugary drink on impulse. And no, caffeine and fizzy drinks don’t count as hydration. Far from it, in fact; they’ll dehydrate you even more thanks to the chemicals in them.
This advice is doubly important when you’re drinking alcohol. Get tap water between every alcoholic drink to balance your intake – it’s free, and your head (and liver) will thank you in the morning.
Remember; university is a time to enjoy yourself and let loose, but it isn’t a competition to see who can party the hardest. Stay on top of your health, and everyone will soon be wondering how you manage the balance so easily.
Are you a student, or have you recently finished university? What tips do you have for keeping on top of things and staying fit?
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Murray is a blogger and writer who graduated with a first-class degree and all his internal organs intact. He writes for GKBC.