Wellbeing Week money blog day 1 – Be Active!
There’s so much more to staying active than keeping fit!
Research has shown that people who exercise regularly not only have better physical health, but also have better mental health and emotional wellbeing, and after the events of the last 20 months, it’s more important than ever to keep ourselves healthy, both in mind and body.
It may feel like a bit of a juggling act trying to fit staying active around your studies and social life, but remembering to look after yourself mentally and physically can only benefit your life as a student, as it will help to:
- boost your energy levels
- increase your self-esteem
- improve sleep
- reduce your risk of anxiety and stress
- boost brain development, and
- improve overall concentration
Don’t worry, nobody is expecting you to run a Marathon (unless you want to of course). There are more ways than ever to keep mentally and physically fit without venturing too far from home. The important thing is to find something that works for you; that not only fits in with your schedule, but something that you enjoy. That way you’ll be less inclined to kick it to the kerb after a few weeks.
Get out and about
Walk! Walk everywhere if you can. Try and get out every day, even if it is just for half an hour. Plug in your headphones and listen to your favourite music or podcast whilst you walk. Leave home a bit earlier and walk to lectures, or meet up with a friend and get to know your local area. Or if you live away from family, try a virtual catch up on Facetime whilst you’re out – good for mind, body and soul.
If you’re new to exercise and need a bit of a boost, try setting yourself a challenge. The Couch to 5K app can be download for free on most smart-phone devices and sets you a goal of being able to run 5K in 9 weeks, which is a great way to keep yourself motivated.
Here’s some of the best places to exercise outdoors in Brighton and Hove and for students over in Eastbourne, you can connect with one of our student bloggers for great tips about getting out and about on the east side.
Join a sports team or club
Get fit and improve your social life by joining a sports team or club. There are lots of Student Clubs available at the University, from Surfing to Athletics or Karate, and they’re all run and organised by the student community.
Or if you don’t see anything you’re interested in, why not start your own club or sports meet-ups – set up a 5 a-side league in your Halls of Residence or organise a kick around in your local park with your friends.
Exercise you can do at home
With University sport facilities and private gyms now back open, there’s plenty of opportunities to get out and be active, but keeping physically fit doesn’t have to mean forking out on annual gym memberships, nor does it have to take up lots of your precious time.
One of the positives to come out of lockdown is the huge variety of online workouts that are now available to choose from.
YouTube is a great place to start, and Sport Brighton have put together the Sport Brighton YouTube playlist of exercise videos, designed to help you keep fit at home. The NHS have something similar – from Strength and Fitness classes, Yoga and Pilates, through to Belly Dancing for Beginners, there really is something for everyone. Just make sure you warm up and down correctly and always remember to stretch.
If you don’t fancy committing to a whole workout, you could build your own circuit at home – try using a chair for tricep dips and bags of sugar or cans of beans for bicep curls – have a look to see what you’ve got handy in the kitchen to give your muscles a once over whilst the kettle boils.
As a student you’re likely to spend quite a lot of time sitting at your laptop, which can put strain on your back, neck and eyes. Setting yourself regular reminders to get up and have a walk around can be a good way to make sure you’re giving your mind and body the break it needs.
Mental and emotional wellbeing
We’ve all been tested in a lot of ways that we couldn’t have expected over the last year and a half, and it’s important to acknowledge that our mental health is just as important as the physical. There are some simple things we can do to help ourselves stay in good mental and emotional health.
Talking about your feelings can be a really helpful way to deal with times when you feel troubled or overwhelmed. Even acknowledging that you feel low is a positive step in the right direction. Your friends and loved ones will be there for you and you can support them too, after all they are probably feeling the same. You can also reach out to your Student Support and Guidance Tutor (SSGT) or even just try talking to yourself in the mirror – it can be surprisingly effective!
Practicing mindfulness is another great way to clear some headspace. When you wake up in the morning, rather than reaching straight for your phone, take a moment to stretch and breath and enjoy the silence before the chaos of the day takes over. If you want to take it a step further, why not start your day with some meditation or yoga. There are some great online yoga classes, and apps like Headspace or Calm that can help guide you if you’re unsure.
Research has shown that starting your day with meditation can help to enhance self awareness, reduces stress and anxiety and boosts overall well-being.
The University Wellbeing Team has put together some online Self Help resources to help support students through difficult times. You can also contact the team by email or phone, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01273 642895.