Back to books: Tips on preparing for a healthy return to your studies
By Health and Wellbeing Expert Stephanie Taylor of StressNoMore
After six-plus weeks off your studies, returning to a life behind the books might seem like the least desirable way to spend your time.
Not least, after a turbulent year consisting of virtual learning away from the classroom, which removed the social benefits of interacting with classmates, it’s unsurprising that a quarter of young people were left fearing for their wellbeing.
But, with life slowly returning to normal following a successful vaccine rollout, it looks like this academic year may be on track to resume as we once knew it.
So to help ease young minds, Health and Wellbeing Expert Stephanie Taylor of StressNoMore discusses her top tips on preparing for a healthy return to your studies, whether that be school, college or university.
Getting back into a routine
During the school holidays, you’ve probably been used to getting up and going to bed whenever you want, partaking in spontaneous activities and not always knowing what you’re doing one day to the next.
However, you must get yourself back into some form of routine when you return to full-time education.
A routine reduces stress levels, improves your health, sleep pattern and prevents burnout.
Ensure you set your alarm for the same time every day, take breaks at similar times and keep to your schedule to promote a healthy work-life balance.
Studies suggest it takes around 21 days to form a routine, so to ensure your mind can adjust to it, you must be prepared to work at it until it becomes a habit again.
Exercise is key
Whether you’re a fan of exercise or not, it’s been proven that just 20 minutes of exercise a day can improve your concentration and help you focus on learning.
Any physical activity will help improve blood flow to the brain, firing up the neurones and promoting cell growth.
That doesn’t mean you have to be the next Olympian for Team GB, but a simple walk, run, or a quick visit to the gym will do.
You will be thankful for it when your memory and thinking ability improves, so when you’re mid-exam you can recall your teachers words and revision notes with ease.
Eat, drink and sleep well
To promote a healthy lifestyle during term time it’s vital that you are eating, drinking and sleeping well.
Stick to a balanced diet, rich in the six essential nutrients: vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, water and carbohydrates.
Foods such as whole grains, oily fish, berries, tomatoes, seeds and nuts – are known to boost brainpower.
Ensure you drink plenty of water and fluids. Drinking at least two litres of water a day helps you think faster, ensure you are more focused and have better clarity and creativity. Studies suggest 85 percent brain function depends on having abundant access to water.
Similarly, getting at least eight hours of sleep per night can help the brain focus, form and retain memories – particularly in young people. If you are having trouble sleeping, consider one of TikTok’s famous sunset lamps, which aid the body’s circadian rhythm due to features such as soft sounds and sunset settings that get you the rest you need to boost levels of melatonin.
Know when to switch off
And finally, to destress following a long day of studying, practice plenty of self-care and mindfulness.
Simply going for a short walk, taking study breaks, limiting your phone/social media usage and relaxing will encourage higher levels of productivity during key study time.
Knowing when to switch off from your studies will also inevitably decrease levels of anxiety and depression, increase mood and energy and improve your physical health, too.