The calming effect of a good self-care routine
The VITL Nutrition Team
Being a student can add a lot of stress to your life, so we partnered with Scape to bring you some tips to make the most of your student experience!
Hectic mornings, late nights, and ‘screen overload’ (which has increased for many during the wake of the pandemic) are a reliable recipe for stress and low energy levels. They are also often a fact of student life. But adopting a few simple steps in the morning and at night can have multiple benefits, including more restful sleep, increased feelings of tranquility, and lower levels of anxiety. They will also help combat lethargy and lack of focus.
Scape, the student living specialist, is passionate about empowering students and ensuring their wellbeing, so we've teamed up with them to share a self-care routine that you can follow either day or night to help you to make the most out of your student experience.
Getting off to a good start will set the tone for the rest of your day. And good mornings start with a good night’s sleep. Try to get around seven to eight hours of restful sleep a night. Figure out a wake-up time that suits you. This doesn’t mean you have to be up at the crack of dawn, or that you have to be in bed by 10pm, but do find the sweet spot that works for you and stick to it as much as possible. It really will make you feel more energised and more organised in long run.
Leave That Phone Alone
Reaching for your phone the moment you open your eyes is second nature to many of us. But checking messages first thing in the morning can make you anxious about what you missed the night before or what potential issues the day ahead may hold. Resist temptation and leave your phone off for at least an hour if possible (even half an hour will help!).
Stretch it Out
A few basic yoga moves (‘cat-cow’ and ‘happy baby’ are favourites) or some gentle muscle stretches are a great way to iron out any overnight kinks and keep you limber. A spot of meditation also works wonders at clearing your mind and helping you focus. There are also lots of mindfulness hints and tips available that will help keep you away from your screen and focused on the real world for a while.
A healthy breakfast gives you energy and fends off the dreaded mid-morning crash. If you’re not a morning person (and who is, really?) you can save time and snatch a few extra minutes under the duvet by preparing something the night before. Good old-fashioned porridge or Bircher muesli are a great choice. Both are highly nutritious, cheap, easy to make in advance and the perfect base for any add-ons you fancy – as long as they’re not mini marshmallows or M&Ms.
As a rule, try to eat a breakfast that contains protein, healthy fat and unprocessed fibre and avoid sugary, processed foods. Be aware - most ready-made breakfast cereals and bars fall into the ‘avoid’ category!
Okay… we know that realistically the student diet might not be as varied, balanced and nutritious as in other times in your life. We want to help to you top up those much-needed nutrients – our Immune Support can boost your Vitamin C, D and zinc, and our Rise and Energise supports your energy throughout the day with Vitamin B, ginseng and iron. All of our products are science-driven and based on robust research and evidence, and we skip additive and bulking agents to make sure you’re only getting the good stuff via the most natural route.
Remember the 3 H's
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! A glass of orange juice might be traditional in the morning, but its high sugar content won’t do you any favours. Instead, drink lots of water and go easy on the caffeine.
Take a little time to do something you enjoy – write your journal, do some colouring-in, attack the crossword, crochet yourself a new tea cosy, it’s up to you. Ten minutes of creative activity is a great way to start flexing your brain muscles and compose yourself for the day ahead.
The key to getting a good night’s rest, essential for de-stressing and facing the next day with vigour, is winding down before you go to bed. It’s especially important now when so much of our time is spent on screens either socialising or working. Again, a good bedtime routine can really help.
For at least an hour before you go to bed, avoid looking at anything with a screen. Put your phone away and stow your laptop or tablet. You’re not going to miss anything – honestly! Why not get yourself a ‘tech buddy’ and encourage each other to ‘turn off’ at a specific time each night?
When all your devices are off, start to wind your brain and body down by dimming the lights and doing something restful. You can borrow from your morning routine here – maybe do some journaling, or some gentle stretching. You can also find loads of mental exercises and relaxation podcasts that help ready you for sleep, so pick one that works for you.
When you feel drowsy, get into bed, focus on your breathing and go to sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, get back in the chair and do another mind exercise. Don’t go back to bed until you feel sleepy – and try not to sleep in the chair or on the couch, however comfy it is.
All of these should help to shut down your busy brain and relax you physically before bedtime. There are plenty of other techniques designed to optimise your shut-eye. These can include:
- Taking a hot bath or shower
- Drinking herbal tea such as chamomile, lavender, or valerian root
- Writing down the things that are worrying you earlier in the day – your brain often works things out while you're sleeping!
- Exercising - best done a few hours before sleep
- Listening to soothing sounds such as pink noise, gentle rain, or specially created music (there are many apps and websites dedicated entirely to this)
- Eating a light meal in the evening and cutting out caffeine
- Reserving your bed for one thing only: sleep!
You might also be interested in: