Student Focus

Easy Tips to Stay Healthy When You Don’t Have Time

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Written by Brandy Robertson, Wellness Advisor, Learning Commons, Assiniboine Community College 

Well folks, we’ve reached November; the weather is getting colder; we lose an hour of daylight starting this Sunday, November 7; oh, AND we only have a month and a half left of school until the holiday break! When we get overwhelmed our health and wellness tends to be the first part of our lives that we stop putting energy into; we say we “don’t have time” to take proper care of ourselves. We don’t cook; we often don’t sleep enough; we sit in one position with our eyes focused on a computer screen. Every aspect of our health suffers when we find ourselves in high-pressure situations.

I’m writing here to promise you that you always have the time to take care of yourself holistically.

Please eat!

  • If you are able to, prepare some of your favourite meals in advance and freeze portions that you can grab and quickly heat up.
  • When you actually cook yourself a meal, make extra so that you have leftovers for another quick meal later on.
  • Plan your grocery run with future time management in mind. Purchase fruits and vegetables (cherry tomatoes, snap peas, baby carrots) that don’t need any preparation beyond a quick rinse in cool water. Pre-made and bagged salads are a relatively inexpensive and healthy meal option. Items like cheese, yogurt, nuts, trail mix, olives, granola, and dried fruit are all quick, simple, and healthy snack options.

Drink water!

Whether you repurpose an empty beverage container (I’ve even seen people using milk jugs!) or use a specific type of water bottle, always have water with you. If you usually fuel yourself with caffeinated or sugar-loaded beverages, like many of us do, every time you take a sip of that drink follow with a sip of water. Easy, right?

When you lean back in your chair mid-assignment to gather your thoughts, drink some water. When you check your phone, drink some water. If we add drinking water to the normal actions we perform on a regular basis, drinking water will become one of those normal actions that we don’t even have to think about.

Move your body!

A friend once told me about gluteus glue, a figurative concept that involved “gluing” my gluteus maximus to my seat in order to be productive. While we do benefit from sitting down and focusing solely on the task at hand, humans are not meant to be sedentary for long periods of time. Every now and again, take one minute (literally) to give your legs and arms a few shakes and bends. From your waist lean forward, backward, and side-to-side. Tuck your chin to your chest to stretch the back of your neck, return your neck to an upright position and slowly turn your head to the right as far as you’re comfortably able and tuck your chin towards your right shoulder; do the same to the left. When you get up for a washroom break, take a few extra strides around the space where you are working and studying. While you’re in there, look in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re doing ok, you’re getting things done, and you’re proud of yourself. At the very least, look in the mirror and smile.

Get some fresh air!

Now, I know that the weather is getting colder which means we are even less likely to venture into the great outdoors; however, just fifteen minutes (or five minutes three times – whatever works for you) of fresh air makes a significant difference to our energy levels and our ability to focus and absorb information. If you’d really rather not venture outside, open a door or a window and breathe in the fresh, oxygenated air. Choose something to focus on that is outside – preferably something else that is alive – and spend some moments away from all of your screens giving your attention to the way the tree branches move in the breeze or how the leaves wisp around on the ground. Perhaps another human is walking their dog of playing with a child and you can watch them interacting until they are out of your sight.

Relax!

Now you might be thinking the exact phrase I quoted at the beginning of this article: “I don’t have time,” so I am going to assure you again that you do.

  • Try to Do Nothing for two minutes.
  • From a sitting or standing position, ground your feet on the floor, close your eyes, inhale through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath in for a count of seven, exhale through your mouth for a count of eight. Repeat this cycle three (or more) times. Doing the 4-7-8 breathing exercise three times will take you 57 seconds, less than a minute!
  • A lot of us already listen to music while we do homework and study, so take three to five minutes and just listen to a song that makes you feel calm. Close your eyes, focus on the lyrics, allow your mind to visualize, listen for the distinct individual sounds of each instrument.

We need to prioritize our personal health and wellness above everything else in our lives. Taking care of ourselves first has nothing to do with being selfish and everything to do with being the best version of ourselves that we can be. You’ll be more energized, more focused, and you’ll also have more fun!

If you find yourself in need of mental health support please use I.M. Well, a 24/7/365 counselling service provided through your ACCSA Health and Dental Plan, or contact Westman Crisis Services at 204-725-4411 to speak with a caring mental health professional.