Maintaining a healthy lifestyle when studying abroad
A reminder your health is as important as your studies
So, you’re here, reading this article, that means you are either already studying abroad and have realised its high time to keep a check on your health, or you are ready with your visa and tickets to fly abroad and wish to keep healthy (which is a good way to think). Here, I am quickly highlighting some of the easiest, and yet most effective ways to keep healthy when you study abroad. Remember, these are in no way to substitute for medical advice, but generic reminders to what we’ve been told for ages, but we keep forgetting. I hope it will motivate you to gear up and get going!
1. Healthy and timely diet
At the expense of sounding like a cookery article – your main diet should consist of food rich in carbohydrates, proteins and fibres. Include things like lentils, rice, pasta and soups into your everyday food menu, add a dash of green vegetables and some fruit to complete. For those who cannot cook – YouTube!
Just eating healthy is not enough. You need to maintain a good eating schedule. Start with a healthy breakfast – a smoothie (banana, strawberry, or frozen berries). Move on to eating a snack high in protein around mid-morning. This helps regulate blood sugar levels and gives you an energy boost. Have a hearty lunch but include a portion of carbohydrates and salads in your dinner. Try to have your dinner at least two hours before bedtime (i.e. if you still have something called a bedtime, and hopefully by the end of this article you would).
2. Keep yourself hydrated
We are made up of 60% water by weight. That, in no scenario, means you can give up drinking water or substitute it with aerated drinks or other beverages like tea or coffee. Hydration is the ultimate form of self-care. As a practice, carry a bottle of water and keep sipping throughout the day. Do you know the lack of water can also cause fatigue and headache?
3. Engage in physical activities
Exercise – it keeps you fit and improves your mood. Very often, exercise takes a back seat because of a lack of time, money or just a lack of motivation. However, exercise is not always working out at the gym – you can always go for a quick, brisk walk or cycle down to your college/university. This might even be a good time to finally give attention to that sport you used to play as a child. Join a club if need be, make new friends and keep motivated. Trust me, a good exercise makes you sleep like a baby. Which brings us to our next point.
4. Take timely rest
Sleep deprivation is more harmful than you think it can be – it can cause fatigue and headaches. Prolonged lack of sleep is known to affect your mood, makes you irritable and can cause hallucinations (worst case scenario). As a student, you need a minimum of eight hours of sleep to function optimally. A small nap here and there also makes a huge difference (napping during class should be at your own risk). Of course, there is high pressure of a new life and assignments but remember that you’ll only be able to perform at your best if your mind is well-rested.
5. Follow a routine
You’ll get enough information on student routines on the Internet. Routines, however, should be tailor-made, not every student can and will wake up at 5 am and go running! Before building a routine, take into consideration daily activities especially those that remain constant, like sleeping, eating, going to class, and such. Start with a simpler routine and gradually move your way up to remain motivated and adapt to the new schedule smoothly.
6. Express yourself
Expressing yourself or venting in any form is a great way to keep that head clear. You may choose to write, talk or use any art form to express your inner thoughts so there is nothing that bothers you and clouds your mind. While most people prefer to write and to whom writing comes naturally, or maybe even typing (the secret bloggers), journaling can help you take better control of your life. For others who cannot write, or write leisurely, it is a good idea to weave a 15 min of writing into your routine.
If you think you need to consult a doctor at any time, do not delay the same and keep going for regular check-ups. It is not advisable to self-medicate! Lastly, worry about those grades and ranks, but not at the cost of your health. If you feel out of control, reach out – to family, peers, friends, professors or us! Don’t hesitate to reach out to us, we at IDP are always rooting for you!
Updated on January 15, 2021
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Akansha Prisca is an international education expert with IDP, specialising in the US as a study abroad destination and is based in Lucknow. In her role, she is responsible for assisting students who aspire to study in the US.
She works closely with universities and institutions to stay updated and find the best opportunities for the students she mentors. She is a psychology major from St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, and has a Diploma in Counselling Psychology from Amity University.