As the number of Covid-19 infections in Singapore and the world continues to increase, it has never been as important to live healthily.
This goes doubly-so on university campuses, where students, lecturers and staff are often in close quarters as they attend classes or participate in activities. An NUS professor contracted the disease on 13 February 2020, and an SMU student also fell ill with Covid-19 on 14 March 2020. These incidences highlight the importance of keeping ourselves safe and healthy in these times.
However, we know most students don’t keep to a very healthy lifestyle. All-nighters are common, exercise consists of walking to the library and back, and huge amounts of coffee, Red Bull or Monster are consumed each day.
Even if you’re not exposed to Covid-19 directly, an unhealthy lifestyle lowers the immune system and leaves you at risk of diseases of all kinds.
So, we’ve prepared some advice on how to be a healthy student – and keep those illnesses and sicknesses at bay!
1. Get enough sleep.
is for the weak!” was an oft-repeated slogan of my university days. However,
the exact opposite is true – it is those that do not sleep that are weak,
because they have no energy throughout the day.
Caffeine and energy drinks are no substitute for a good night’s sleep. Sleep helps to process information, rest your brain and body, and can protect your mental health.
Try to get a regular six to eight hours of sleep at night. Also, use your bed only for sleeping – don’t fiddle with your phone or read a book under the covers. That way you will sleep faster and more deeply.
While it’s true that we may need to pull the odd all-nighter when rushing for an important project, but don’t make a habit of it. Not only does staying up late increase your stress levels, but you’ll also find that you are not doing your best work when you’re tired and frantically working towards a deadline.
2. Observe a healthy diet.
Food comes first – before alcohol, your handphone game high score, or whatever is trending today. Keeping yourself well-fed and nourished will help you in every aspect.
In university, most of the food easily available to you is probably of the fast and unhealthy variety. Unfortunately, these foods, though accessible and especially tasty, are not healthy for the human body and are not good substitute for other food groups.
We recommend preparing meals ahead of time and eating at regular timings (breakfast, lunch, dinner) to ensure a balanced diet.
You can also check out your campus healthier food options, like the Healthier Dining Program at NUS.
3. Organise your desk.
Research has shown that physical clutter affects our brain’s ability to concentrate and process information. Neuroscientists at Princeton University found that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.
So, keep your work space neat and organised not just because it looks good, but because it also helps your mental health and wellbeing. Decluttering is the first step to creating more open space both physically and in your mind — enabling you to sharpen your wits, focus better and take better care of other aspects of life.
4. Organise your work.
Don’t be that student rushing into the library minutes before closing, writing a paper into the wee hours of the morning because you forgot it was due yesterday. Last-minute work is never your best work.
We recommend keeping a schedule of assignment due dates so you can plan ahead, ensuring that you have enough time for research, writing, and any other tasks. You don’t need to keep to this plan minute-by-minute, but it helps to have a guideline on when to start and when you can expect to be done.
5. Get fit(ter).
It’s easy to put fitness on the backburner when you’re swamped with classes and activities.
As a start, check out your university student care programmes and activities. For example, SIM Student Care regularly organises programmes to encourage healthy living, wellness, stress management and the development of soft skills.
A good idea is to establish a routine and get your friends involved! As a group, you can join a sports club or organise regular trips to the campus gym. Also, plan activities over the weekend that get you moving and look for opportunities to increase your ‘incidental’ exercise.
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