Managing your health and wellness: 8 tips for students

Many joys emanate from being a higher education student. Some of these include the sound of laughter, the bustling  campus life and impromptu canteen lunch "dates" with friends. Then there's the study groups, the various sports and recreational clubs and activities on campus and sports matches on the weekend. In a very short space of time, as we navigate our way through COVID-19, much has and will still change. Some more changes will present themselves at the start of and during the next semester. Taking care of yourself is just one of the things you can do to ensure that you are well prepared.

We’ve put together some tips to help students during these uncertain times: 

Practice self-care
Try not to make a habit of sleeping late, wearing your pyjamas all day and snacking more than usual. Looking after yourself is essential for your mental health. Even though you are currently indoors, make an effort to look your best, get the right amount of sleep and maintain a healthy balanced diet.

Get some exercise
Exercising when you can't get to the gym may be a challenge. Yet exercising is key to maintaining a healthy body and attitude. Studies have shown that physical activity plays a significant role in reducing stress levels, increasing energy and boosting your mood. Try simple indoor exercises such as jumping rope or jumping jacks. Join one of the many online spaces or download an exercise of your choice App!  

Develop a routine
Says Fathima Naidu, National Student Relations Manager at The IIE’s Varsity College: “Your routine may be disrupted right now, but that does not mean that you cannot create a new method to accommodate the changes happening in your life. Develop a new schedule that is centred around helping you manage your studies and your life. Your plan should include time dedicated to working out, studying, working on a passion project, and family time. Having a routine will help you to strike a balance in all areas of your life in the comfort of your home”.

Take on a passion project
You know that one thing that you have always wanted to do but never got around to do it? Well now is the time. Take on a passion project that will be relaxing and rewarding for you to do during the lockdown. 

Connect with others
Social distancing doesn’t mean that you have to be socially disconnected. Feeling lonely during self-isolation is very normal. Fortunately technology makes it easy to connect with others. Stay connected with your friends and loved ones. Keep the lines of communication open, it’s good for you!

Silence the noise
Take a few minutes in your day for quiet meditation. Meditation allows you to silence everything that might be happening around you and to create an atmosphere where you can reconnect with yourself.

Be selective about what you view
“It is easy to become overwhelmed by watching the news and reviewing the updates of the COVID-19 pandemic. While it’s important to be informed, you should not obsess over the news. Block, unfollow and unfriend if you feel like you are being exposed to too much negativity – do whatever you need to do to cope. Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled. Confide in someone you trust,” adds Naidu.

Ask for help
Your mental well-being is core to your overall health and should be a priority. If things are getting too much for you and you feel like you can’t cope, ask for help. Your family or friends may be able to offer practical help or a listening ear.

If you are concerned about your well-being during this period, please contact services such as SADAG. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) is at the forefront of patient advocacy, education and destigmatization of mental illness in the country. Its expertise lies in assisting patients and callers throughout South Africa with mental health queries. They are available to help you. To contact a counsellor between 08h00 and 20h00 from Monday to Sunday, call 011 234 4837.

Maintaining a healthy mind and body is just one of the ways to help you prepare for what lies ahead and to help you get through this period of uncertainty. Try one or all of these tips to make the most of this time.

In the words of Robert Urich, “A healthy mind outside starts from the inside.”