Self-Care at University: Putting Your Health and Wellbeing First

Faye Price gives essential information and advice about staying healthy during freshers week. 

For years, Freshers Week has been one of the most highly anticipated events on the University calendar. It can be easy to get swallowed up in the excitement and uncertainty that come with starting out as a first year. There are campus events, registrations, nights out and taster sessions to get stuck into. With everything happening around you, it is easy to forget to take care of the most important thing in your University career – yourself. Below are tips that will help get you navigate your way through the chaos of Freshers Week in the most stress-free, healthy way possible.

1.       Food – Healthy doesn’t have to mean hassle.

In between meeting people, attending introductory lectures and decorating your room, food is likely one of the last things on your mind. When you eventually get to it, ordering takeout can seem the easiest, most hassle free option, particularly if you’re self-catered and you have somewhere to be later. But don’t whip out the Dominoes app just yet. The BBC Good Food website offers a Top 10 list of basic student recipes , including fajitas, curries, pasta bakes and soups. These recipes may be short on preparation and cooking time, but they are in no way lacking in taste. Eating freshly made, healthier food will also make you feel better all round, whether you’re suffering from homesickness, stress, or are just feeling a little run down. Not only will it help get you through Freshers Week, but it’ll serve as a great starting point for all your kitchen exploits throughout the year.

The recipes mentioned above can be found at

2.       Alcohol – I drink and I know things… Or do I?

The stigma around students and excessive drinking habits has proven less accurate over recent years, with more and more of us opting for an alcohol-free lifestyle. Despite this, many still enjoy a few drinks on a night at the bar or a club. As a result, overconsumption of alcohol remains an issue, and the biggest reason for a ruined night out. To ensure your evening doesn’t end in you doing a technicolour yawn into someone else’s bag in the Uber home, ensure you consume a sufficient, carb-fuelled meal (containing rice, pasta, or potatoes) before you leave. Despite what some might say, eating is definitely not cheating. The carbohydrates will help to soak up the excess alcohol as it enters your system, reducing both the risks of overconsumption and the likelihood of a hangover.

 If you do end up going on a few nights out during Freshers Week, it is advisable to be aware of the amount you’re a drinking, and pace yourself for the nights ahead. Drinking water in between alcoholic beverages will ease the effects of a hangover by rehydrating your body. However, the myth that water will help to ‘sober you up’ is just that: a myth. When it comes to sobering up, time is the only effective method.

3.       Mental Health – Take care of you.

With all the chaos that comes with moving to a new place, it comes as no surprise that starting University can take a toll on your mental health. At the end of the day, you’re leaving your comfortable family home to live in a flat full of strangers, where you have to learn to manage on your own. It’s no wonder that homesickness, stress and anxiety are all afflictions associated with freshers week; especially if you’re arriving with pre-existing mental health issues.

With this in mind, it’s important to address these problems as they arise, rather than hoping it will all just go away. Keeping in regular contact with family and friends , as well as having a wall of photos from home, can both help you get through those bouts of homesickness, as well as keep your general mental health in check. And though it might seem tempting to stay in your room rather than putting yourself out there – don’t. Making friends is an integral part of University life, and a huge benefit to you individually. Shutting yourself away will just make you feel lonely and isolated.

If you find yourself struggling during freshers, or at any point during the year, the University of Nottingham offers a range of resources for mental wellness:

Nottingham Nightline: An anonymous listening and support service consisting entirely of volunteers, on duty all days of the week from 7pm-8am during term-time to listen to any problems you may be experiencing. Tel: 0115 951 4985

Your local GP at Cripps Health Centre: Tel: 0115 846 8888

University Counselling Service: Tel: 0115 951 3695

Samaritans: Tel: 08457 90 90 90

No-one comes to University with everything figured out. Despite how you might feel, you are not alone. By talking to other students in your flat, accommodation or on your course, you’ll likely find that most people are actually just as overwhelmed and uncertain as you are. It is always better to confide in others than to suffer in silence.

4.       Registering at Cripps – Better safe than sorry!

Too many students neglect this step in their first week at Uni. Often, it falls to the bottom of the priority list, or gets brushed aside entirely. However, registering with the University health service is necessary if you don’t want to get caught out with a sudden illness while studying. For those who have an ongoing health issue, registering at Cripps is even more important.

To register, simply download, print and complete the registration form and confidential questionnaire. These can be found at  Once the relevant forms have been completed, they need to be handed in at Cripps Health Centre.  This is a straightforward procedure that won’t take much time out of your schedule, and will provide reassurance that you will be taken care of should you become unwell. When it comes to your health, it really is better to be safe than sorry.

Studying at University can be an amazing, life-changing experience; one that we should all be able to live to the full. The information and advice above are intended to ensure you are able to have that experience, while keeping your health and wellbeing in check.

Faye Price

Sources Used:

Featured image courtesy of Marco Verch via Flickr. No changes were made to this image. Image use license here.

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