Five ways to maintain a healthy mind and body during your studies

Rosi Prescott, our Chief Executive, offers some advice to students.
26 May 2016

It’s easy to worry about money, housing and material things while losing sight of personal matters that lie deeper below the surface. This is despite mental health issues becoming an increasingly prominent issue.

An NUS survey this year revealed that the majority of students suffer mental health issues at some point or another. We’re not talking solely depression and ‘the obvious’ stuff here, it can come in many forms: stress, anxiety, eating issues, loneliness, low self-esteem and problems related to substance abuse.

There’s loads of help on offer so don’t suffer alone.
Rosi Prescott

And while it’s promising that professionals, charities and the public are focusing more attention on the matter, there’s still much more to be done. The impact of cuts to student-support funding are apparent.

The effects of ignored mental health issues can be huge, and sometimes it’s just the little things that can make a big positive difference here. In a survey we conducted earlier this year, one in three people said they wanted to improve their peace of mind this year, while 15% said they often fail to make positive changes because they feel unhappy.

Central YMCA was founded in 1844 and we’ve been working to improve the lives of young people since then. We open them up to new opportunities and break down life’s barriers.

To help keep a healthy body and mind throughout your studies we’ve pulled together five top tips to keep in mind:

1. Recognise the strong link between healthy minds and healthy bodies.

There’s tons of studies proving the link between exercising and how you feel mentally. And while joining a gym or exercise club is sometimes not feasible on a budget, it might not cost you a thing nowadays, in a world of great mobile apps and YouTube. We now have access to pretty much anything at our finger tips – from yoga tutorials, to simple running apps – there’s something out there for everyone. Finding activities like this could save you money, and positively affect your positivity and wellbeing.

2. Make time for you.

Take some downtime to work out what it is that relaxes you. You might decide to do some relaxation exercises, take up yoga with a friend, or even just plan to set aside an hour completely to yourself each night to do whatever you please with.

3. Make it pay.

If you already have the exercise bug you could take an entry level course, and train your fellow students. This can pay well and is a good way to focus your mind on something that is meaningful to you and meet like-minded students.

The effects of ignored mental health issues can be huge.

4. Recognise when there’s an issue.

Sounds basic, but many students brush it off when feeling slightly down in the dumps or overly stressed, putting it down to the student lifestyle or just ‘one of those days’. Talking about how you feel early on, and talking to friends, peers, or support workers about it, can help to lessen the impacts. Of course it’s not an easy as that, but keeping quiet and trying to deal with it all by yourself can be harmful.

5. And finally, know where you’re able to seek support.

It’s amazing how many students don’t know where to get help when they feel down or lost. There’s loads of help on offer so don’t suffer alone. Don’t see how you’re feeling as a failure – check with your school, college or university about what support is available to you.

I can’t stress enough the importance of maintaining a healthy mind and body as a student. It’s often one of the most exciting, yet most stressful times in your life, and you can often be faced with untold pressures. Talking to people, seeking support, and using powerful tools such as exercise can significantly improve your peace of mind, as well as bringing about a whole host of physical benefits.

Rosi Prescott

Central YMCA’s Chief Executive

Rosi Prescott is responsible for running the world's first YMCA – Central YMCA – which operates locally, nationally and internationally. Rosi joined the organisation in 2004 and has played a huge part in the revolution which has taken place within Central YMCA over the past decade. In particular, she has spearheaded a number of high profile campaigns addressing issues such as body image, peer-to-peer health, apprenticeships and youth unemployment.