Cultivating Positivity for the new academic year

Here we are, a new term, a fresh start. So how can we make the most of this opportunity, to feel fit, happy, healthy and productive for this academic year?students at a cafe

Cultivating a Feel-good Mindset

Everything we think, say and do creates a feedback loop of positivity or negativity in our lives. Try using positive language when you speak to others and even with the thoughts in your head. Feel thankful for the smallest of lovely things, a funny message from a friend, the ducks swimming on the lake, if we notice the good things along the way we can add to our list of ‘Gratitudes’ for the day, increasing positivity.

feel thankful for the smallest of lovely things...... the ducks swimming on the lake

feel thankful for the smallest of lovely things…… the ducks swimming on the lake

Positive Action

Any small action can make a difference. Ask for help, seek wise advice, do 20 minutes of your academic work, or 20 minutes of exercise. Focus on what you can do today and let go of things you can’t fix. All these actions will help to reduce stress.

Avoid ‘The Voice of Futility’

We all have a critic in our head that can sabotage our peace of mind and even our motivation to do things. Remind yourself that this is just a negative thought, it’s not a fact. Notice any small good thing as evidence against it. Whether you’ve managed to speak to a new potential friend, gone for a walk in the fresh air, or spent half an hour in the Library starting that new assignment, these are reasons to celebrate how you’re proactively contributing to the positivity in your life.

Creativity: your BFF

If you’re faced with an issue or a problem that’s difficult to resolve, try using your creativity to come up with a different way of finding a solution. Draw a mind-map or write a pros and cons list, distract yourself with a creative activity like drawing, photography or music for a short time, then return to the issue with a clear and open mind.

Mind your body

Your physical health is vital – so take some exercise that you enjoy

Your physical health is vital in your quest to feel positive and happy in your life. So brush up on your cooking skills and try some delicious, healthy, balanced meals. Drink plenty of water. Take some exercise that you enjoy, whether it’s walking, a team sport or a dance class. A good night’s sleep can be a challenge at Uni, but a healthy routine is the foundation of your mental and physical health.

The tools work if we use them, so have a go and enjoy your year.

Eat well to ‘Boost your Brainpower’

At this time of year when you are studying hard, your good intentions to eat healthily can often slide way down your list of priorities. It’s all too easy to get into the habit of drinking coffee or high sugar drinks and ordering take-away pizza, because you don’t want to waste time on food preparation. However research shows that good regular nutrition is all part of a successful study plan because it enables you to perform at your best.

try to eat a piece of fruit every day to boost your brain power

try to eat a piece of fruit every day to boost your brain power

We’ve all heard about the benefits of starting the day with a good nutritious breakfast, however this is very often the meal that is skipped due to time constraints. It is so vital to start the day with some protein, calcium, fibre, fruit or vegetables, which might sound difficult, but is actually very easy. For example, a bowl of cereal with milk and a piece of fruit would do the trick or a piece of toast with peanut butter and a banana. Alternatively if you are short on time, try a cereal bar, a glass of milk and an apple or whiz up a smoothie in a blender (see recipe below), these can be eaten ‘on the go’ and are full of nutrients to kick start your body and mind.

It is also worth knowing that certain foods are ‘Stress-busters’ and can help to boost your resilience. These include: Zinc which is found in lean meat, eggs, yoghurt, cheese, whole wheat, popcorn, nuts and seeds; Vitamin C which is found in all fruit and vegetables; B Vitamins found in Whole-grains, Marmite, yoghurt, beans and avocado; and Magnesium found in dark leafy vegetables, grapefruit, sweetcorn, nuts and seeds, raisins, carrots and tomatoes.

dark green veg such as spinach and kale are full of  magnesium and vitamin C

dark green veg such as Swiss chard, spinach and kale are full of magnesium and vitamin C

By incorporating these nutritious foods into your diet, you will be not only feel more energetic and able to focus, but will be boosting your brain power and mental health.

So, why not challenge yourself to make eating more healthily part of your study plan for 2016, if you start now you will give yourself the best chance to feel motivated and energised for the rest of this academic year and for the upcoming exams in the summer… Go on it’s worth a try!


Breakfast Smoothie

Serves 1

1 banana – cut into 4 pieces

Frozen berries – 1 handful

Pineapple (tinned) – 2 dessert spoonsful

Water – 1 small cup

Plain Yoghurt – 2 dessert spoonsful


Put all of the above and blitz till smooth, then drink and enjoy!