Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be difficult as a student. Late nights, irregular schedules, work commitments, tight budgets and food choices all take their toll on your health. Luckily, there are a few simple tips to keep in mind that will help you stay on track. Whether you’re getting ready to start tertiary study for the first time or you’re in your last few semesters, our five tips could be just what you need.
Follow a healthy diet
It’s important to maintain a balanced diet, so take advantage of dinner leftovers or get up a little earlier to make yourself a sandwich before you head out the door to your first class. Not only does bringing lunch from home help you avoid making unhealthy decisions in the cafeteria between classes, but it also saves you a bit of money throughout the week. For those living out of home who need to cook dinners as well, the best tip is to ‘shop smart’ — look for special deals, visit your local market and buy in bulk. If you’re short on time, you can even try cooking extra meals over the weekend and freezing them to reheat throughout the week.
When you’re in classes throughout the day, studying in the evenings and working on the weekend, mustering up the motivation to exercise isn’t always easy. The best way to get around this is to establish a routine or — better still — get your friends involved. Join the local gym (or the one on campus), plan activities over the weekend that get you moving and look for opportunities to increase your ‘incidental’ exercise. If you normally take public transport to class, why not get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way?
Avoid late-night studying
It’s okay to stay up finishing an assignment once in a while, but it’s not a good idea to make ‘all-nighters’ a habit. Not only does staying up late increase your stress levels, but you’ll also find that you are not doing your best work when you’re tired and frantically working towards a deadline. Even if you are getting good marks, think about how much better they would be if you put in the time and effort ahead of the due date. We recommend keeping a schedule of assignment due dates so you can plan ahead, and starting assignments at least two weeks before they are due so there’s no last-minute rush.
Balance your commitments
Ask graduates about what they struggled with most during their studies and many will tell you that they found it difficult to balance their commitments. This could mean balancing study with a part-time or casual job, or perhaps with relationships and social commitments. It’s important to maintain a life outside of study — keeping everything balanced will help you to do well academically and will also keep your health in check. If you are worried that your job is affecting your studies, ask your manager if you can cut back your shifts or change your roster. If social outings are interfering with your assessments, try to limit the amount of times you go out per week or promise yourself an early night every now and then.
Find ways to manage stress levels
Assessment stress can have a negative impact on your health, particularly your immune system. The key is to manage your stress levels before they hit their peak and to find study methods that work for you (remember, these might be different to what works for your friends or family). Many students find it effective to structure their study sessions and take study breaks between each session. This might involve a quick jog around the block to clear your head, sitting down with a book or your favourite movie, or catching up with friends for a coffee. You can also avoid stress by being prepared and organised throughout the semester — maintaining a good attendance record, doing your class readings and starting assignments early can all help to minimise your stress levels when the assessment period comes around.