Courtney Dickson, Wellness Columnist Ω
As the school year begins and young minds learn about the joy of independence, it’s common for students to neglect basic wellness. However, there is a reason you chose to pursue post-secondary education, and poor health can severely damage your education and experience during university.
This is my sixth year of post-secondary, so I understand how bad you just want to grab a bag of chips from the gas station across the street to munch on at midnight while you work on an essay due the next morning. There are so many things wrong with this approach. I don’t want to nag, but seriously, I can’t stress enough how harmful this lifestyle is.
A lot of you will start doing your own grocery shopping. Maybe your parents used to limit the amount of junk food in the house, or you don’t actually know what the healthy alternatives are because you never paid attention to that stuff. This is where things got really tricky for me when I first left home. All I wanted to buy was juice and doughnut holes. Things did not go well.
Here are some tips from a university veteran that will hopefully help encourage a healthier lifestyle.
Recognize what kinds of food it is that you always go to: microwave popcorn, chewy cookies, gummy candy, etc. Now find healthy alternatives for those foods. An alternative to a food like this is something that is similar in taste, so if you want sweet, you need to replace it with something else sweet. Same with crunchy, salty, etc. I like hot chocolate, so I picked up some black tea with vanilla, chocolate, peppermint and peppercorns. Add a little milk and voila! It’s a low-calorie version of my favourite treat.
Don’t fall into the habit of buying food on-campus. I’m sure food services would disagree with me, but you will save a ton of money and you’ll know what you’re eating is healthier if you prepared it at home.
Pencil-in exercise as part of your schedule so that it becomes just as important as going to class. If you have a break between classes, going for a walk can noticeably improve physical and mental health. Pick up a membership at the TCC (only $27.50 per month for students with a valid student ID) or go to one of TRU’s free fitness classes each week.
Perhaps the easiest habit to fall into is irregular sleep. I realize some people work best when it’s 2 a.m. and the pressure is on to learn an entire semester‘s worth of material in the next six hours, but as we’ve all been told many times, sleep is imperative to your well-being and the more often you stay up late to work on assignments, the more you will start staying up late just because that’s the routine.
The added stress of exams, deadlines and new responsibilities wreaks havoc on your body. Figure out early on what a good strategy is for you to deal with stress. For some, it might be as simple as going for a drink with friends. Don’t wait until stress is high during midterms to find out how to cope; learning now will do wonders for you in the future.
Just because it’s the end of summer and you’re going back to studying, it shouldn’t mean that it’s time to start pigging out on junk food and replacing healthy physical activity with a daily nap (or two) in order to make up for all the fun you aren’t having at the lake or some EDM festival. All it takes is one slip-up to start creating a pattern of poor health.