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Health And Welfare

Six steps to sustainable student health

Students living away from home for the first time have a lot to manage that they’ve never had to worry about before, whether it’s doing their own laundry, making sure that they know how to navigate tertiary learning, or even managing their own health and wellbeing.

“Being away from home for extended periods for the first time is a challenge. Many students are used to being part of extended families that help take care of life admin tasks, and they have always turned to their parents or other guardians for help and advice about any medical or other concerns,” says Bronwyn Boavida, managing director at Respublica Student Living.

“This has been even more complicated during 2020 and 2021. Students and their families had to navigate the complexities of life during a global pandemic. All aspects of life, as we knew it, changed!,” she says. Students’ health can be impacted by various stressors, including homesickness and loneliness, struggling to make ends meet, and not knowing how to balance classwork, studying, and socialising.

With mental health being as much of a priority as physical health, Respublica offers some ideas on how students can take care of themselves once they’re on campus and living in student accommodation:

Many students may miss the structure of school sport, and it’s essential to keep exercising, both for your physical health and for your mental wellbeing. Choose a residence or campus that offers a range of sporting activities, or even a gym, so that you can take time out of your day to exercise. A residence that has an on-site exercise facility would be most ideal.

Being on campus for the first time can be lonely until you make new friends. Join study groups wherever you can, and you can use the subject matter as a conversation starter. The best study groups are those that are within your residence, as it’s to build friendships once the study sessions are over.

Choose a residence that includes a student support programme, like Respublica’s Res Life programme, which offers academic and life skill support, sport and recreation programmes, and social, community, and environmental engagement. This approach helps students integrate into the learning and living environments, helping avoid stress.

Plan and eat healthy meals. While it’s tempting to get takeaways from the campus canteen, bulk-cooked food often lacks essential fresh nutrients. Choosing accommodation where you can benefit from a niche canteen or cook your own food empowers you to eat more healthily.

Get serious about sleep! Choosing accommodation that’s designed around students’ wellbeing means that you can retreat to your bedroom and get a good night’s sleep, giving you the rest you need to be on top of your academic and social game.

Mental health and wellness need proper attention too, with students being vulnerable to depression and anxiety. Residences with on-site counsellors can help students get the needed help to support their mental and emotional well-being.

“It’s also important that students take advantage of the Government’s COVID-19 vaccination programme, as everyone older than 11 is eligible for the vaccination,” Boavida adds. “Vaccination protection means that students can have a more normal university life experience, which is why Respublica facilitated vaccination days for all its students and staff and will continue to do so in the new academic year.”

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