How to Maintain a Healthy Routine While at Uni
When you’re studying at university it’s easy to get swept away with the experience and put your health and wellbeing on the back burner.
After all, for most people, it’s a time of profound change. You leave home for the first time, you start living independently, and you start to make new friends. It’s all new and exciting.
Many students, after a while, start to lose track of their routine and don’t prioritise their health. That shouldn’t really be the case, as your wellbeing forms an important part of the university experience, and a healthy student is a productive student - but hey, no judgement here!
To keep you on the right track, here are a few tips that you might find helpful…
Keep a consistent routine
If you find yourself hitting a rough patch, then you’d be surprised how much keeping a consistent routine can help you to get out of the funk.
A lot of students mistake autonomy for lack of obligation. You might think ‘sweet, I have Tuesday and Thursday mornings free of lectures, so I can stay up late every Monday and Wednesday night! Woo!’
Sorry to break it to you, but that kind of lifestyle is not sustainable. After a while, you’re gonna find yourself feeling low and exhausted - and probably have picked up a few pimples along the way!
If you have free periods in your schedule, it’s important that you take personal responsibility for your own routine and find a rhythm that works for you.
That means getting organised, maybe setting up a study schedule, getting enough sleep, and dividing your days up into study, rest, self-care and play. That can be more complicated to maintain than it sounds, which is why we really recommend getting organised…
This takes a little bit of concentration and effort, but once you have managed to get organised you’ll have a sense of control and perspective that can make a huge difference to your mental health.
Something as simple as buying a calendar or a study diary and keeping it to hand can help you to visualise how your day and week are going to pan out.
That will keep you focused on your priorities and help you to organise your social life too - which is also important!
You can also break down your bigger tasks into smaller, bite-sized ones, so things don’t get overwhelming.
If pen and paper isn’t really your thing, there are also helpful time-management apps that exist to help you to keep on top of lectures, deadlines, events or study group dates.
It’s also a great idea to set up a study space that you find conducive to work. If working in your room is only going to lead to a Netflix binge, then perhaps heading to the library might be a better idea! Or when you're looking for student accommodation in Sheffield, for example, check out the study rooms available in your student residence and use them!
Alternatively, pair up with a motivated study buddy who’ll hold you accountable for lapses in motivation, and vice versa.
Most people have a peak time of day when they are most productive. Some people are early birds, while others are night owls. If you know yourself, that’s half the battle won. If you are a night owl, that’s fine - just make sure you get some sleep too!
No matter the time of day you prefer to study, you need to get enough sleep in order to function well. If that means getting a siesta in, then so be it!
If you struggle to get to sleep, try meditation. Some people even use some YouTube videos designed to lull you to sleep. (Just don’t get sucked into the YouTube black hole!)
While it’s true that our bodies are designed to sleep at night and get up early, sometimes that’s not possible. The important thing is that you’re resting well.
Sleep is such an essential part of healthy brain function, and an antidote against depression - so get your 8 hours a night in.
Alongside sleeping well, eating well is a vital key to healthy brain function.
Not eating any old food, though!
We’re talking about a healthy, nutritious, well-balanced diet, with plenty of fruit, vegetables, carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats.
The stereotypical uni student gorges on pot noodles, baked beans and pizza and excessive amounts of alcohol. While there’s nothing wrong with that every now and then, if that’s your staple diet you’re headed for bloating, lethargy and the dreaded acne!
Getting in some regular exercise should be on your list of priorities if you want to maintain a healthy routine while at uni.
Exercise isn’t just about losing weight or burning calories - it’s also super important for your mental health and optimising your mind’s potential.
When you’re studying you need to store new information, and exercise encourages nerve cells in your brain to bind to one another, an essential part of learning.
And remember - when you’re exercising, you lose water, so make sure that you drink plenty of it throughout the day!
If you need a bit of extra encouragement, why not try an exercise app? They are fantastic for tracking your progress and staying motivated.
Take regular breaks
University life can be full on. When you’re organising your study and social schedule, make sure you factor in some rest time.
Stepping away from your laptop and books every hour should be standard practice, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. Easier said than done if you get into the groove with your studies, but taking a break is good for your eyes, your posture, and your brain!
Why not use the time to make a healthy lunch or snack or pop out for a walk?
You’d be surprised at how much a break re-energises you.
There should also be a moment in the day when you totally disconnect from your work and transition into social life or ‘me time’.
Make time to see a friend, read a book, or watch a film. If your laptop needs to recharge its batteries and update every so often, so do you!
A great way to spend your downtime is doing something that you love in a university club or society.
When you get to university you’ll find lots of options at the university Freshers Fair, so make sure you sign up for some fun activities.
Whether it be a sports club, dance, amateur dramatics, hiking, cooking, or a weird and wonderful society, just get out there and get involved.
The friends you make will become your support network and a source of joy and release for you in between seemingly never-ending study periods.
Ask for help if you need it
If you find that you’ve really hit a wall or are experiencing personal problems - remember, you don’t have to go it alone.
Most universities offer counselling and wellbeing services - take advantage of them. There’s absolutely no shame in reaching out for help.
Just speaking to someone can be cathartic, and if your problems seem insurmountable, the trained professionals at your university will be able to point you in the right direction.
So there you have just a few tips to keep you on track to maintain a healthy routine while at uni. And remember - enjoy the experience, they are some of the best years of your life!