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How to Keep Mentally and Physically Healthy as a Student | Student Health Tips

This year has been an extremely difficult time for students, with self-isolation, lockdowns, and Covid anxiety adding to an already stressful student schedule. But how can students keep up their mental & physical wellbeing during this tough time?

We recently held the Student Health & Wellbeing Summit, a free event for all students with Q&As, discussions, video content, and more! If you missed the event, you can still check out all the content for free here. If you are just looking for a summary, we have compiled all the major information in this useful guide! Here are some of our top tips for student health & wellbeing.

Top Tips from our Student Influencers

Some current students talk about their favourite techniques to try and reduce stress and improve mental health at college and university. Here are a few of the tips from Becca’s Small World:

  • Take time out of your busy routine
  • Keep up with friends even if you can’t meet in person
  • Get fresh air everyday
  • Speak to housemates everyday
  • Limit social media use e.g use Downtime app
  • Make sure you get enough sleep!

 

Yoga

Yoga is a perfect activity for students, it helps reduce stress and anxiety, it helps with fitness, and it even has been shown to improve memory and attention span. Anyone can get involved with yoga, all you really need is a quiet room, some relaxing music, and a guide to help you through it!

Check out our free Yoga session with Beth Hardwood here. Beth is a Vinyasa Flow teacher with over 200 hours of training. Her sessions will help you to escape from stress, engage with the mind, and find greater connection from within.

We even have a free playlist to help you really get into things. Check it out here.

 

Self-Awareness

How well do you really know yourself? Self-awareness is basically the ability to see yourself clearly and objectively, understanding why you feel what you feel and why you behave the way you do. Self-awareness has been shown to improve wellbeing in a number of ways, as this talk by Helen Cowper shows. 

What are the main benefits of self-awareness:

  • Make informed personal decisions
  • Allows you to stay driven and positive
  • Understand your values
  • Helps you set short and long term goals
  • Be more confident
  • Keep out negativity

But how exactly can you go about improving your self-awareness? Firstly you should think about some basic questions: What do I like doing? What do I dislike? What makes me happy? By jotting down some key ideas, this can help give you a better understanding of your values and eventually your goals.

Here are some great resources to help you improve your self-awareness:

What are my goals?

Values & Personality Lists

Feelings score sheet

Key Ideas

Gut Health

When thinking about student wellbeing, the ‘gut’ might not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, this talk by The Gut Stuff might help to change your mind! The gut is simply the tube connecting your mouth to your anus (and all the organs in between). But what are the benefits of a healthy gut?

  • Can improve sleep
  • Helps your skin / reduce eczema
  • Can improve your mood (the gut is linked with the brain)!
  • Can help improve your immune system and reduce risk of disease
  • Can improve your alcohol tolerance?!
  • Can reduce anxiety (‘that bad feeling in your gut’).

Check out the Gut Stuff website to find out more about the science of the gut.

What are some simple tips to help improve your gut health?

  • Chew more! Chewing 20-30 times before you swallow can stop gas build up in the gut.
  • Eat fibre – 30g a day – Helps build up the good bacteria in your gut.
  • Eat 30 different plants / week! Helps improve microbe diversity in the gut. Keeping a food diary can help you to do this
  • Reduce stress by implementing ‘you time’. Some relaxation every day can help your gut!
  • Mix gut health strategies with CBT / mental health strategies to help reduce anxiety.

 

The Immune System

The body’s immune system is a fantastic tool which helps protect you against substances, germs, and cell changes that could make you ill. If you are sick more than others, it may suggest your immune system is not as strong. In our immunity panel, we discuss the value of supplements, vitamins, and general strategies that can help your immune system.

How can one improve their immune system?

  • Make sure you get enough vitamins (Vitamin C, D, and Zinc are excellent)
  • Eat immunity boosting foods (see below)
  • Sleep properly – less than 6 hour sleep can reduce immune system functionality
  • Exercise regularly
  • Reducing caffeine and sugar can help your immune system, particularly as they damage your sleep patterns
  • Sunlight exposure can help mental health, sleep, and immnutiy!

What foods can you eat to help improve the immune system. Our friends at Tonic Health suggest:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc
  • Elderberry
  • Ginger
  • Honey
  • Blackcurrant

 

Smiling!

Did you know that smiling can help stop anxiety and panic attacks? Emma Amoscato from The Smile Programme helps explain the science behind smiling in this video.

By moving the muscles of your face into a smile, it starts sending signals to the brain that we are calm and safe. As a result, the brain releases serotonin and endorphins, which can slow breathing, improve mood, and make you happier!

So if you are feeling anxious:

  • Move your mouth and eyes into the smile position
  • You should feel your heart rate and breathing slow
  • Focus on steady breathing
  • Reassure yourself that you are OK.

Find out more info in the Smile workbook here!

 

The Mental Health & Wellbeing Q&A

In this video, our mental health experts answered some of the most common mental health questions from our students. Here are some of the highlights:

 

How can I make friends at uni?

At university, there are as many introverts as extroverts! If you are introverted, try to find some sociable and outgoing people who will be much easier to talk to. If you can make friends with an extrovert, they will likely introduce you to many of their friends, helping you find lots more people to get on with! Joining societies or group chats is another great way to meet new people.

 

What to do if I’m feeling lonely at uni during lockdown?

It’s hard during lockdown, with zoom meetings stopping people from the normal ways of meeting up! But social media is your friend, so make sure you keep up with your friends and message them on a regular basis. Even after an online lecture, you can drop someone a message asking for help or giving them a compliment on the points they made, this can lead to new friendships forming!

 

My anxiety is really bad at the moment, what are some ways to cope with this?

There are some great tips on the Student Minds website for anxiety. But spending time with yourself and having some ‘me time’ is a great thing to introduce to your daily schedule. This helps you to stay calm, introduce some mindfulness activities, avoid difficult environments, etc. You need to be able to express how you are feeling, either by talking to your friends or writing it down. This can help you to keep on top of your emotions, and not allow them to overwhelm you.

 

We hope you found this guide useful. Remember to check out the various student mental health resources that are available:

NHS

Mind.org

Student Minds