The Recipe for Student Success – Ingredient Three : Great Health

Whenever I fill in a form that asks for my occupation, the answer I always put is ‘student’. That’s because being a student is a full time job. Unlike a ‘real job’ where you do what you’re paid for within set hours, as a student from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed almost everything I do is somehow related somehow to university.

My job as a student comes with a job description. Part of my job as a student is to socialize, to make friends and connections with dorm-mates, course-mates and professors. Another requirement is being frugal, (depending on your financial circumstances) since most students don’t have piles of money under their beds. Finally, it is also my job as a student to do all of the assignments and reading and attend of lectures and so on. These requirements can create pitfalls that keep me from being as healthy as possible.

obstacles to great health

1. Drinking too much. For some reason, it has become a cultural rule that the best way to make friends is to have a drink with them. Personally, I am not opposed to this, and actually I think it’s a great way to bond with people. However, I do think there is a line between just a social ‘drink’ and a social ‘binge’. Of course, there are some special nights where it’s sometimes nice to drink ourselves silly, but most of the time is that really necessary? There was once a time when I would have gone past the line far enough that I would barely remember the entire night. Looking back at it now, not only was that extremely dangerous, as well as expensive, I probably would have had way more fun if I knew what I was doing and perhaps didn’t make such a moron of myself.

2. Giving into peer-pressure. Now, this may sound like something we were told not to do in high school, but unfortunately I still see it happening at college level. It may be disguised as a ‘suggestion’ or whatnot, but it is what it is. Sometimes when we’re trying to impress people, we do what they say against our better judgement. I’m all for the ‘try-everything-once’ mantra, but for me there are just a few things that are a little too risky, and I don’t think I’ll gain much ‘experience’ from trying them anyway.

3. Buying cheap food. I can’t speak for everyone here but I would say I fit into the usual ‘student’ financial bracket if there is such a thing. I’m not exactly loaded, but I’m not struggling either. There shouldn’t be much reason for me to skimp on food, even though it is tempting. The cheapest food, especially cheap meals, most of the time aren’t good for you. They are filled with additives and flavourings to make up for their lack of real taste and nutrition.

4. Not cooking at home. Every now and again there comes a time when you are absolutely swamped with work and you just don’t have time. Occasionally ordering a take-out is fine, but having three or four a week is bordering on lazy. Not cooking at home is a pitfall to good health because unless you’re ordering salads etc. it’s unlikely that what you get in a polystyrene box is good for you.

Most of these pitfalls can be helped. Almost all of these aren’t forced on you, you can choose the better alternative if you want to. All you need is a little willpower plus the want to be a healthier, more productive and happier person.

3 ways to great health

1. Get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep is crucial to your success as a student. Even a 20 minute nap will boost your concentration and therefore your understanding and retention levels. At night, try to calm your mind down before going to bed by doing some meditation or light stretches. Alternatively, drink a cup of camomile tea or listen to some soothing music. Make sure you’ve packed everything you needed for the next day so that you’re not tossing an turning at night in the vain hope you’ll remember to grab something in the morning. Try to go to bed at the same time every night, even if you only have an afternoon lecture the next day. By maintaining a routine, your body will be able to relax easier when it comes to bedtime and you’ll be able to sleep deeper and wake up feeling more refreshed.

2. Eat a minimalist diet. A minimalist diet doesn’t mean you don’t eat much. It means that instead of choosing processed ready meals or fatty takeaways, replace them with fresh and simple ingredients in a home-made dish. A lot of minimalist recipes only require a few minutes to prepare. Even the cooking process is quick and minimal, such as just steaming or quickly boiling, which means that it shouldn’t take you a lot of time to prepare even the most satisfying meals. A minimalist diet can also save you money, especially if you spend a few bucks each week on junk food. On top of that, it can help you boost your concentration and energy levels throughout the day.

3.  Plan exercise time and do it. Eating healthily is only half of the battle. The other half is exercising, and there’s no getting away from it. Student life means that your body can spend hours at a time sitting at a desk. If you don’t really do any exercise, don’t start out with something extreme like jogging everyday. Instead, just take a walk or do some stretches. Schedule time out to do exercise and actually do it. If you can’t find the time to fit it in, don’t give up. There are many exercises you can do even whilst at your desk. You don’t have to aim to have a model’s body or to be able to run a marathon. Just getting your heart pumped a little releases happy hormones which will lift your mood and make you more willing and able to learn.

Depending on your academic course, you could have it easy. You could have a few days off a week, long weekends and generous deadlines. Or you could be on the other end of the spectrum, the one with library marathons and late-night cramming. Either way (or if you’re somewhere in between) it’s easy for your mind to be full about your job as a student, instead of thinking about what you are apart from that.

Above the outer label, you are a human being, with a real body that hopes and dreams. But without your body, can you accomplish those dreams? You may not want to be a pro-star athlete, but essentially in order for you to achieve your best, your body needs to be at it’s best. Without it being at optimum levels, it becomes something that can hinder your potential. Think about any time when you didn’t get enough sleep, your body probably felt tired and you might have found it difficult to concentrate. Because you didn’t take care of it, your body stopped you from doing your best. Take good care of your body, and it will take care of you.

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