Thursday 25 December 2014

Don't forget about your health and well-being at college

Your own health is just as important as your studies

Published 18/08/2014 | 06:00

Look after your health in college
Look after your health in college

Leaving the family nest to go to college is an exciting and anxious time. And being prepared can make a real difference.

Students are often faced with worries about settling in, homesickness, making new friends, dealing with landlords and housemates, finances, study and peace of mind.

All these concerns are perfectly normal and campuses nationwide have a variety of services and supports to ease the transition.

The latest edition of Flying the coop, - a student information guide, published every year, covers a broad range of issues including mental health, cyber bullying, alcohol and personal safety. There are lots of practical information on costs and budgeting too.

It includes top tips from people on the ground in college - students, college officers and students union officers. Between them, they have encountered all, or most student-related issues before, know best what can arise, and where to find a solution.

As well as advice on how best to cope with the range of new experiences ahead, the book is packed with practical information.

Among the important topics covered, is the area of student health and well-being.

For many students, away from school, and perhaps friends and fmaily, secing to seek support or help may seem a big step.

The guide encourages students to speak out if they are feeling stressed, anxious, depressed or troubled by any emotional or mental difficulty.

When new to the third-level environment, where students have to adapt to a lot of change, such as more independent learning, stress can build up over getting assigments in on time.

Declan Higgins, Vice President and Welfare Officer at National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) said: "A problem shared is definitely a problem halved. Once you do speak out, there is so much relief in having taken those first steps. We're all here to listen and help, please take that opportunity."

The guide also discusses personal identity, sexual orientation and sexual health.

Most colleges have a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender society (LGBT) which helps people who are struggling with their sexual identity.

Students will find that they can speak in confidence to individual equality officers or student counsellors.

It is also very important for students to look after their sexual health if they are sexually active.

Health service professionals are accessible on most campuses to offer guidance and advice.

If a student is sexually active, the golden rule is to use protection ans avoid unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, and to get regular check-ups.

Flying the Coop is available from Youth Work Ireland, Roscommon/North East Galway's Youth Information Centre for 50c, plus postage and packaging.

Some quick tips

* Ensure you get 8-9 hours' sleep per night (trying to make up for it at weekends does not work)

* Ensure you eat properly (regularly and eating nutritional food - never skip breakfast)

* Manage your time well. Ensure a balance between your college work and personal time to unwind and recharge.

* Ensure you get exercise. If you are not engaged in regular sports or don't like going to he gym, then go for a 30-minute brisk walk each day. This will help burn off stress, lift your mood, aid your concentration and limber you up (particularly if you are sitting and inactive for most of the day).

Irish Independent

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