Making healthy choices as a student on a budget, living a busy lifestyle can often be challenging but it’s one worth taking on when you realise the benefits:
- stronger immune system
- more energy and better concentration
- healthy weight
- reduced risk of certain diseases
Eating healthy does not have to break the bank the NHS Eat Well for less has 20 tips to help save money when thinking about your meals. It’s also important when eating healthy to include some variety, being healthy doesn’t mean eating plain chicken and rice every day, enjoy the process, learn new skills, new recipes and be adventurous. Challenge yourself to try a new recipe each week, many can be found online including these student recipes.
Life doesn’t often get much busier than during exams and this is a time when eating healthy should really become a priority. Eating for exams is a great guide on how eating well can actually improve your exam performance and what foods are best to help you do this.
Most of us need around eight hours sleep per night, however the quality of that sleep also makes a difference. Quality sleep is really important to a healthy lifestyle and can:
- improve concentration
- boost energy
- improve memory
- boost mental wellbeing
- help keep a healthy weight
If you have trouble falling asleep the NHS have some tips on how to get to sleep. Simple changes in your evening routine can make a big difference. The mental health foundation also have some information on improving the quality of your sleep.
Try to stop smoking
Smoking can cause a number of health problems and the NHS outline 10 key benefits to stopping and this does not even cover the financial benefits you will see. Quitting isn’t always that easy but research suggests you are up to four times more likely to succeed if you get support, there are a number of local services available. There are also plenty of strategies you can use to help quit. The NHS have 10 self-help tips to help you quit.
Understand sexual health
Whilst at university you may decide to have sex or you may not. Either way it is important to understand sexual health in general and how to make healthy choices.
More than a third of cases of sexually transmitted diseases are in the 16-24 age category according to the Health Protection Agency. The best protection against this is always contraception.
This sexual health tool can be a useful guide to see if you are practising safe sex.
The University medical centre are able to offer sexual health advice if you are a patient and the NHS run a Sexual Health Clinic in the city centre where you can book an appointment or attend a walk-in clinic.
Be alcohol aware
Alcohol is known to slow us down and impair our judgement which is why you are more likely to be involved in an accident or be targeted for a crime if you have been drinking. Drinkware have a number of articles on staying safe whilst drinking which includes information on sticking together on nights out, drink spiking and how to help someone who has had too much to drink.
There are plenty of ways that you can stay in control whilst drinking and stay safe:
- alternate alcoholic drinks with water or soft drinks
- eat before drinking
- have smaller drinks, such as a bottle of beer rather than a pint or a small glass of wine rather than a large glass
- avoid being part of a round where you may feel the need to drink at someone else's pace
- look out for each other
- understand your limits and know when to stop
If you choose not to drink alcohol or to drink less, the university has a Set Your Own Volume campaign that aims to give you more low or non alcohol choice in our outlets including Fresh, Parade Bar and Grill and The Plug and Tub.
In the UK it is recommended that men and women drink no more than 14 units per week which is equivalent to around 6 pints of beer. However if you regularly drink 14 units per week these should be spread over a number of days. Calculating units can be difficult and you may be surprised at the number of units in your favourite drink. Drinkware have a how to stay safe at Uni guide that gives some good advice about staying safe.
Many students drink very little or not at all so will enjoy the benefits of drinking less including better sleep and a healthier appearance. It can help to manage weight and reduces your chances of a more serious health condition.
If you think you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol there is plenty of support available from the Wellbeing Service or the Students’ Union Advice and Support Centre as well as external agencies.
Stay safe around drugs
No matter what your attitude is towards drugs it’s important you are aware of the risks. Talk to Frank provides a comprehensive overview on drugs, their effects and support. Whilst under the influence you can seriously comprise your safety and the only real way to stay safe is to avoid them completely.
If you need support it is available from Student Services or the Students’ Union Advice and Support Centre as well as external agencies including:
- the NHS who can link to support services
- The Mix provides facts, advice and support
- Frank lists the local support services in Bath
Know the symptoms of meningitis
Meningitis is an inflammation of the cells that surround your brain and spinal cord and whilst it can affect anyone, young adults are one of the most vulnerable groups. It can kill within hours so it’s really important to be aware of the signs and symptoms and to get vaccinated. You can find full details on our meningitis page or by visiting the website of Meningitis Now who are the leading charity for meningitis in the UK.
Recognise if gambling becomes a problem
For many people gambling is a hobby that they enjoy from time to time. For others gambling can become a habit that can lead to debt, isolation, put strain on relationships and in some cases lead to anxiety or depression.
If you are worried that gambling has become a problem for you or a friend, you can seek help in a number of places. Gamcare, a national charity for gambling awareness, have a self-assessment tool to help you reflect on whether gambling has turned into more than just a hobby. Student Services can also offer help and support.
Try an App
Apps to support wellbeing are becoming increasing popular and can support all aspects of health from diet and activity trackers to apps to guide you through mindfulness exercises. Here is a list of the top 18 health and fitness apps.