Ten tips on looking after yourself at university

Heading off to university is an exciting time of your life, but it also carries with it new responsibilities and for some, anxieties. Most Freshers will be moving away from home for the first time and this means doing all your own cooking, cleaning, washing and generally taking charge of your own well-being.

It is easy to think that you are invincible and that all the “top tips” your parents give you are just because they are being over protective, but actually, some of those tips are definitely worth remembering.

1. Register with a Doctor near Uni
It’s easy to think you will do it when you need it, or just not to think about it at all, but when you are unwell, the last thing you are going to want to do is start filling in forms and waiting for your registration to be complete, much less going home to see your own Doctor. So do it as soon as you arrive, or even in some cases you can do it beforehand, so it’s one less thing to think about.

2. Junk food is so called for a reason
It’s easy to think you can’t cook, but if you can follow simple instructions, which presumably you can if you’ve managed to get to Uni, then you can cook. That’s what recipes are for! And eating a balanced healthy diet, will go a long way to making sure you don’t need to go to the Doctor you have just registered with. A few processed, ready-made meals and foods high in sugar, never did anyone too much harm. It’s living on them that does. So do try and get a balance – hence the term “balanced diet”! – and add in some fruit, vegetables and good home cooked meals.

3. Try and avoid food poisoning
Yes, everyone hates washing up, but dirty plates with scraps of food on them for days on end will start to grow bacteria, attract vermin and make the kitchen an unhealthy place to cook. Mould growing the fridge is also not good and whether it’s your food or someone else’s that has been left there to fester, throw it away. Nobody, whoever is saving it, is going to eat it like that. Take note of use by dates and particularly with raw poultry, fish or meat, throw them away if they have expired. If you handle raw poultry wash your hands thoroughly afterwards and do not use any plates or cutlery on other foods before washing them.

4. Sleep is good for you!
Sometimes you need to sleep.

5. Care for your mind as well as your body
Your mental health is equally as important as your physical health. If you find you are struggling with anxiety, depression, stress, home sickness or any other mental health problem, talk to someone. Every university has a counselling service which is free to students or talk to your friends or family. Do not struggle alone. There is always support to help you find ways of dealing with your issues. For more information visit http://www.studentminds.org.uk/

6. Be true to yourself
University can be a lot of fun but only if you are true to yourself. Don’t feel pressured in to drinking heavily, taking drugs or partying all night if that is not who you are. Know your limits, where you are comfortable and stick to them. A night of fun can quickly change if you don’t know when to stop.

7. Practice safe sex.
Avoid STDs - Use a condom. Avoid unwanted pregnancy - Use a condom.

8. Personal safety
Always carry a phone with you. Do not use unlicensed taxis. Do not walk home alone in the dark.

9. Exercise
It’s easy to fall in to the trap of not exercising if you’re not sporty. At school you had to do exercise at least twice a week, but now it’s up to you whether you do or not. Regular exercise will keep you fit, even just walking for half an hour every day.

10. Try and get a balance
Too much work and studying will be stressful and ultimately unproductive. Not enough work and too much play will mean you don’t achieve your potential with your studies. Getting a good balance between socialising and work should be your goal to help you achieve a more fulfilling and rewarding time at Uni.

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