Hi friends! As it is officially the end of my reading week from school, I thought it would be a perfect time to write a little post about student life, and how to stay healthy as a student.
We all know that student life is unique and comes with it its own set of pressures, extra financial burden, stress and particular scheduling. All of which can make it difficult to eat well, stay active and generally just feel our best. For those of you who don’t know, I started a full-time school program last year (to study more nutrition!) and it has been both great and very challenging! Although this is my third degree, it has been 8 years since I’ve been in school and I completely forgot what it felt like to be a student. When I started school again in 2018, I found it quite difficult to maintain my regular health habits and routine, and as a result I was not feeling the best. Of course, this is all compounded by also working full-time, but this is also the reality for many students!
Now that I’ve adjusted a bit, I thought I would provide tips to help fellow students stay healthy while studying and generally while pursing any academic endeavour! I am providing these tips both as a Nutritionist and as a student myself who is experiencing the day-to-day of student life!
HEALTH TIPS FOR STUDENTS
1. The Multi-Tasking Workout
We all know moving our bodies and being active is good for us, but this last year I truly realized what a difference it made for my mental health. Finding movement and working out almost every day has been the biggest help while studying. It is an immediate stress-relief and I find it completely wakes me up when I feel mentally drained. Something that I’ve been doing is multitasking while I workout- this means that I read a book or read over notes while walking on a treadmill or on a stationary bike. If I am going for a run outside, I may also listen to a podcast or audio book on the topic that I am studying. Not only am I getting a good sweat in, but I also find that this helps me focus on what I am reading, and I actually retain the information better! If this is not your thing- I generally encourage you find the time to find movement in your day-to-day. Also remember that any movement is better than no movement. Try to walk as much as possible, and even a 15-20 minute home video does the trick! I have been loving Yoga with Adrienne and Barre3 Online.
2. Meal Prep
Another lifesaver for me has been meal prepping. I try to make 1-2 larger batches of something to have for the week. My go-tos are curry, veggie stew, chili, a pasta dish, lasagna or veggie sheppards pie. I also make ‘comfort food’, and generally just food that I crave. For me, nothing is better than having a comforting meal ready for me at the end of a long day when I am stressed and tired.
3. Stock the Pantry with Brain Food!
Studying uses a lot of energy! I am always more hungry when I am studying. My tip here is to keep food in the pantry that can be used to make nourishing meals and quick snacks. Food that is full of good healthy fat and complex carbohydrate can help fuel your brain, help with focus and generally just keep you satiated to limit any distraction you may feel due to hunger. Here are some ideas of foods to keep in your pantry:
– Oatmeal – I add a dollop of peanut butter and/or yoghurt, a tbsp of ground flax and a chopped banana and I am good to go!
– Canned soup – I like Amy’s, which has a little more sodium that I would like, but a good option in a pinch when you haven’t cooked!
– Rice cakes – A great snack with peanut butter and banana (see below)
– Peanut butter – I slather peanut butter on rice cakes, banana, apples, add to my oatmeal, or make a piece of toast. Easy and filling!
– Seaweed snacks – A great snack when you are not particularly hungry but want to munch or crunch on something salty. Full of minerals, and very satisfying for me!
– Pop corn – My favourite snack of all time. I go through a lot of popcorn during exam time!
– Corn chips and salsa – Another favourite snack!
– Veggie chips – I like these dipped in hummus, or guacamole for a filling snack, or even part of a meal.
– Canned beans – A must for me to add to salads, or to make into a quick bean dip to enjoy with rice cakes, corn chips or sliced veggies. I generally keep hummus in the fridge too!
– Mixed nuts/seeds – A perfect snack when studying. I will have a handful with a piece of fruit or a handful of berries and I find it the perfect snack!
Although sleep is a very obvious thing, I think it is worth mentioning. This year, I also truly realized the value of sleep. I used to consider myself someone that does not need a lot of sleep. I would often get a few hours a night and feel completely fine, but now that my mental and physical load is much more- I REALLY need my sleep. Sleep has helped to decrease my naturally high anxiety levels that easily get worse when I am studying. It is also important for general cognitive functioning, memory and retaining information. After all that hard studying, sleeping well can really help to solidify and keep the information in your brain! Generally, you can handle more when you are creating a good foundation for yourself, and sleep definitely helps with this. To help me improve my sleep habits ( because they are truly not the best!), I try to have a bedtime routine of some sort. I take a hot shower or bath, use lavender essential oil on my pillow, make a sleepy time tea, sometimes take CBD or a magnesium supplement, and try to relax a bit before bed.
5. Engage in Activities you Enjoy
This has actually been another huge non-negotiable for me. It seems silly to take time for yourself when you have so much going on, but for me it helps me stay motivated and decreases the chance of burn out. Although I enjoy school, it is strenuous and I don’t find it particularly fulfilling at all times. To stay motivated, I have to find joy in my day-to-day, and spend time doing activities that fill my cup. This includes activities such as going on long walks with my dog, spending quality time with friends, my boyfriend and family, cooking a nice meal, watching a show or movie, taking a weekend trip, working on a creative project, reading for fun, taking a class like pottery, trying to do some art of some sort (even though I am not good at it!), and working out/taking a workout class. These activities leave me feeling mentally, emotionally and physically ready to tackle both school and work with more gusto!
Thank you for reading this post! I would love to know how you all find balance in your life, and stay healthy when things are super crazy. I find, a little bit goes a long way. Any more tips are highly appreciated and you can always e-mail me, or send me a DM on Instagram!