Почему так легко испортить свое здоровье в студенческие годы (и как это предотвратить)?

Статья публикуется на языке оригинала.

When you are young, your older family members always comment on how lucky you are, because you still have a high metabolism, strong immune system and so on. While it is mostly true, it becomes so easy to take your health for granted and mess up your health as a teenager or young adult. And I am not only talking about physical health, as taking care of your mental health is just as important. Before I share with lessons I learnt on my health journey as a NIS and NU student, I would like you to keep in mind two things that I wish somebody had told me:

1. Eating instant noodles, drinking energy drinks and being sleep-deprived while cramming for a test does NOT prove how hardworking or dedicated you are. Yes, you may believe that you do not deserve a healthy meal or nap until you are finished with a project, but ask yourself why this very idea is planted in your mind. Maybe, your parents looked at you approvingly when you refused to eat dinner in order to spend more time studying, and now whenever you crave approval, you tend to restrict yourself. Or, perhaps, you observed that your sporty straight-A friends are at the top of their game even though they eat junk food and get little sleep, so you intend to copy their habits to become as successful as they are. No matter why you might have this belief, it is better to discard it and treat yourself to nutritious food and adequate sleep during the exam prep phase.

2. The kind of stress you experience as a student is NOT less of a stress, just because you do not have “adult problems” (divorce, loans, etc). Every time you complain about how stressed you get at school/university, people tend to disregard it and compare your anxiety to the one adults have. No, your stressful experiences are valid (!) and you deserve self-care. Instead of ignoring your stress, learning how to cope with it in your teens will pay off in the future.

Well, I was a student, too (currently a Master’s student), and made a lot of mistakes regarding my well-being. I do not necessarily regret them because they taught me a great deal and you, too, should not feel guilty if your lifestyle is not so textbook perfect now. What really matters is willingly stopping one day, looking back, and learning from past mistakes.

During my bachelor studies, two close family members of mine died. Unfortunately, I did not let myself properly grieve, did not cry much. Over time, my lifestyle habits gradually worsened, until one day I fainted and realized that this should stop. Those all-nighters, consumption of processed foods and toxic people whom I surrounded myself with negatively affected my health. Yes, at those times I could not make myself study or feel good about myself, but one day I stopped blaming it on my assumed laziness and lack of intelligence, and started to cope with my grief, and this is when everything improved. 

So, here are some things I did to get back on a healthy track:

• Let’s start with the easiest one – nutrition! Limiting your intake of fast/junk food was a major improvement for me, as in less gut issues and increases mental sharpness! Healthy eating should not be expensive or time-consuming, most of the time it is quite the opposite. Unlike greasy or sugary foods, fruits and vegetables are easy to include to your every meal.  Why I stress the word “easy” is because keeping this is mind helped me to reduce my intake of prepackaged meals and instant noodles (Rollton, Doshirak, etc.) It takes the same 3-5 minutes to rinse and chop vegetables and fruits that I used to spend on “cooking” the infamous noodles which have almost zero minerals and vitamins. I suggest websites, like https://www.budgetbytes.com/ for easy healthy recipes on budget. 

• Choose the right type of workout for you. Just because you saw fit people on social media run twice a day and hit the gym daily, it does not mean you have to imitate them, as those things may not be suitable for everyone. Taking long walks, stretching or martial arts could be something that suits your temperament and schedule. I, personally, have difficulty with weight training and running, that is why I stick to yoga and pilates. There are a lot of free video materials on these two, and they do not require expensive gear or gym membership, as you can do them at home, alone or with friends and family . 

• If your school or university provides free services of a therapist (psychologist), I definitely suggest signing up to discuss what makes you stressful and get professional advice. Psychologists agree that a person does not have to undergo a big trauma to seek help from a therapist, as it is something any average person can benefit from. Apart from that, there is no harm in surfing the internet on your own for information about mental health, meditation and relaxation. I downloaded some apps that help with stress management and have been using them on the regular. See what suits you best with the selfcare apps.

• Be careful when buying vitamins and other health supplements. They may seem like a quick fix to all existing and non-existent health issues, but doctors advise to get vitamins and minerals from food rather than synthetic supplements. 

• Limit your communication with toxic people and notice if you become one. Although everyone says that you need to expand your network at school/university, be smart about it and do not force yourself to talk to people who drain your energy.

• Healthy socializing is as significant as taking care of body. Setting healthy boundaries with other people is not something taught at school and we need to learn it by ourselves as early as possible. When developing empathy and learning to become a better listener, remember this – first of all, be empathetic to yourself and listen too your inner voice. With any healthy relationship, balance, mutual respect and trust are vital. 

• Educate yourself on healthy lifestyle from credible sources. Embrace your nerdiness when it comes to health, but do not go overboard and remember that your grades do not determine your worth! Your value as a person ≠grades. Your grades is just one out of many achievements in your life.

Author: Aidana Amalbekova - NIS Taraz Alumna, 2015 year