Tension-busting tactics

Staying healthy for London students during the academic term can be a challenge. So you’re back to the old listen, learn and produce academic grind. Lectures started what would seem like a long time ago and you are taking in all the new people and places. Whether you are a returning student or a new student you come to the point that you want some how to have balance in your social and academic experience. To keep in good health and to have a positive year is not necessarily easy in the urban and exciting jungle of London. Staying healthy so that you can live it up is a worth-while goal. Keeping a balance between your academic, social, and personal activities is the key to staying healthy.

For all of us, whether new to the London student environment or returning to London academia there is an inevitable period of adjustment. Familiarising ourselves with new people, classes, living arrangements, food, language, the London culture, and the fast pace of everyday life in London can be stimulating, exciting and extremely stressful. The high noise level, pollution, fast pace and general stress of studying and living in a large city can have a direct effect on your physical and emotional health. Most of us, at one time or another during the academic year, will wonder “what we are doing here?”. But although stress in our lives is inevitable, how you channel the energy that the stress produces will determine if you will stay emotionally and physically healthy. Make a conscious effort to participate in activities outside of academics.

Friends and acquaintances are important. Get out and party! Get to know people. Socialise; join a club that interests you. Isolation leads to greater stress. The best buffer against high levels of stress is to spend time with other people in social situations. Meet someone new. Learn about another person, their culture, religion, and their views on life. When you feel stressed out and sure that you will fail an exam, paper or relationship, or that you feel as if you do not fit in try to turn to other students. You would be surprised to find that they have experienced the same doubts and emotional lows at one time or another during the academic year.

Doing something active is a good way to combat problems. Exercise not only relieves stress, but can also increase concentration and the general feeling of well being. Physical exercise of any type can relieve stress. It could be as simple as walking or using the stairs rather that an elevator. Ride a bike. A formal or informal programme of aerobics, dance, martial arts, yoga, swimming or working out in the gym as well as many other activities will be good for your mind and body. The type of exercise that you choose is not as important as doing it on a regular basis.

Take a “mental health day” (a day that you do what you want to do not what you must do) when you need it. Above all else, know thyself. All of us need to make time to do whatever helps us feel positive about our lives. Even when it seems that you do not have the time to take a day off because you are far behind everyone, try it. Change your routine. You could find that taking one day to do whatever you want puts you in the frame of mind that allows you to deal with the stress of being a student and just living.

Say No more often. Many of us suffer from the “I want to have it all” or the “I want be liked and accepted” syndromes. All of us need to allocate our time, energy, and practice time management. Remember that it is not physically possible to do everything that is expected of us. Say no more often to those activities that just cause us extra stress. Just say no!

Eat and sleep well. Intellectual pursuits are strenuous not only on the mind but also on the body. Your body needs strength to meet the demands of being a student in London. The basics are to eat well and get enough sleep. Seems very simple, but these are usually the first two areas that we allow to go first. In the excitement of new people, parties, events and tight finances, we find ourselves forgetting to eat a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables are important in our daily diet. When the world is on your shoulders and all of the deadlines had to be met yesterday we tend to give up sleep in order to meet them. Most of us must give up sleep at sometime during the academic term, but to do it on a regular basis is counter-productive to health. Our bodies need the sleep time to regenerate and heal. When we consistently give up sleep, we are giving up time that is needed to keep us healthy for daily functioning.

Register with a Health Service or GP in advance. Yes it is true: most of us hardly ever get sick. Nevertheless, it is advisable that you register with a health centre associated with your university or a local GP (General Practitioner) in your area before you become ill. It does not cost anything and if you ever need service then it will be provided. The National Health Service (NHS) covers all students who are enrolled in a course that is nine months or more. Autumn and Winter are flu seasons in England. Stress lowers the activity of the immune system. In other words when you are highly stressed you are more susceptible to getting the flu or other respiratory infections. Flu shots are available.

To live a healthy student life, actively relieve stress, eat and sleep well and register with a local health service or GP. Staying healthy during the academic year will allow you to fully experience all that London has to offer.

Ariel King

Futures Index

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