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Ask Keir: How to stay healthy at University

You’ve just arrived at University and you’re getting used to a new place to live and making new friends, which means probably the last thing that’s on your mind is your health. But keeping on top of your mind, body and soul can really smooth the transition from home to University life so here I am just to give you a few useful pointers and contacts to get you started.

Mind

For most of us moving to University is the first time we’ve moved away from home and, whether we like to admit it or not, it’s a big leap into the unknown. Everyone’s aware of the great possibilities when moving to University, like making friends and moments you’ll treasure forever, but if things don’t go according to the book in the first few weeks it can be disheartening. It’s a fact of life that when you’re placed in accommodation it’s a bit of a lottery and you may find yourself with a set of flat-mates that just aren’t your kind of people. First up, remember there are always people in the same boat as you and there’s always a solution, so if this does happen there are a few solutions to bear in mind.

1. Wait it out – sometimes your new best mate can be right in front of your eyes but you only get properly chatting after a couple of weeks when the whole fresher bonanza is over.

2. Course mates – quite a few people find they bond best with people on their course and naturally, as you see them infrequently to begin with, it can take a while.

3. Join a society – every student union has a number of societies and there’s one that’s bound to interest you. They’re a great way to meet like-minded people as well.

4. Ask for your accommodation to be changed – this is the very last step and it’s rare for students to feel so strongly as to do this, but if you really are feeling like these halls just aren’t for you, contact your universities accommodation office.

Body

While you’re out partying with new mates and getting to know the big, beautiful city that is Manchester, our diets can go out the window. Quite a few of you will have known people that have gone to University and come back a bit on the heavier side by Christmas. The principle culprit for this is almost always the tasty takeaway. As with most foods, moderation is the key but being away from home and not being used to cooking for yourself everyday can lead to takeaways becoming the staple of any students’ diet. To prevent the pounds piling on get a student cookbook for some quick, easy and healthy recipes to cook on those evenings you aren’t prepared to cook a gourmet feast. I personally recommend “Nosh for Students: A Fun Student Cookbook” which you can get for as little as £6 online. There are plenty of others to have a look at that might suit you better. Next hindrance on the list is the frustratingly stubborn ‘freshers flu’. If you do like to go out and have a drink and enjoy Manchester’s fine night life it’s quite possible to over do it in the first few weeks leaving your body run down and open to the ravages of illness. To keep your head above water and your form in fine fettle, try to have a night off every other night or swap every other alcoholic drink for a glass of water. Also keep an eye on your diet and try to get some shut eye in so you’re not a walking zombie in those pesky lectures.

Soul

The big change in moving to a new city, making new friends and fending for yourself can take a strain on the strongest of characters and sometimes we find ourselves feeling down or getting worried about things in a way we haven’t before. When this does happen (and it happens to more people than you might think) having someone to talk to can be of great help. So if you want someone to lend an ear to your worries then all the universities in Manchester and Salford have great confidential counseling services that can see you at short notice and help you work through any problems you might be having, as well as pointing you in the right direction for any future help.

Tags: Ask Keir, health column, healthy eating

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