3 Health Tips for Every Student

The School of Health and Exercise Sciences faculty wants to ensure you stay healthy this School year

With mid-terms fast approaching, staying healthy can slide off the growing to-do list. Whether you are a new student or an experienced one, faculty members within the School of Health and Exercise Sciences want to ensure you stay healthy this year.

“Although a very exciting time in life, university brings the stress of life changes and academic demands,” says Dr. Tanya Forneris. Being proactive is the key.

“The one thing past students always say to me is they wish they had been more organized and prepared earlier,” says Dr.  Zoë Soon.

That’s why our experienced faculty members, Tanya Forneris, Sally Stewart, and Zoë Soon, collaborated to give you their top 3 tips to make sure you stay healthy this year.

  1.   Take care of yourself first.
    Dr. Stewart, who spearheaded the campus-wide health and wellbeing course, HEAL100, says this means, “moving more, sleeping well, and nourishing better.” If you make these behaviours a priority, you will be better prepared to tackle the challenges ahead of you. Stewart says to consider building a plan for self-care throughout the year. “Schedule in exercise with your friends or have a walking study session.”Stewart explains that by investing the time in creating a schedule that balances sleep and exercise, you will actually save time by being more productive and avoiding illness.

    An equally important part of this equation is how you fuel your body, explains Stewart.

    “We have all been there when the deadlines start to feel overwhelming, but if you create habits from day one to nourish yourself with healthy food, sleep, and exercise, it better prepares you for those challenges.”

  1.   Learn to breathe.
    Seriously.  “It might sound too simple, but learning to breathe will help you manage your stress levels and lead to better academic performance,” explains Forneris, who currently leads a research project that involves examining how peer mentors can help their mentees better manage their stress response. Stress is a biological reaction to a perceived threat or demand from our surrounding environment.Forneris explains: “Not all stress is bad – it can help us focus, stay energized, and perform well. However, our health is compromised when the body stays in fight or flight mode too long. Slowing down our breathing helps our body move into a rest and digest mode.”

    Students can learn to effectively monitor and use breathing to manage their stress response. Forneris suggests building in moments throughout the day – it just takes 5-10 minutes of slow deep breathing with about 6 breaths a minute.

  1.   Study smart, not hard, and reward yourself.
    If a faculty member knows about studying, it is Soon, who has worked with over 5,000 undergraduate students in recent years. It’s important to find study habits that work for you.Studying is not one size fits all, says Soon. Find what works for you.  It might be making flash cards, flowcharts, concept maps, reading, writing, or drawing.“Be sure to plan study times when you are personally more alert and find places you study well.” Whether it’s a coffee shop or the library, finding the right space is the first step towards creating better study habits.

    It’s also important to review your notes after each class and test yourself. “I promise that feeling organized and staying on top of schoolwork will stimulate the reward centres in your brain and relieve stress,” says Soon.

    Finally, she adds, “Reward yourself!  Especially when you tick off one of your scheduled goals that you were tempted to procrastinate on.  Whether it’s with a funny video, a bit of exercise, or some time out in your favourite place or with your favourite people.  Treat yourself!”

If there is one thing this team of faculty wants you to keep in mind this year, it’s to get help if you need it.

“Remember every staff and faculty member at UBC wants to help you succeed,” says our team of Senior Instructors. “Just ask.”