Image looking down on a table containing lots of healthy related objects - salad, trainers, dumbbells etc.

To celebrate World Health Day (7 April) and Bee Active, Bee Healthy, Bee Happy Week (5-12 April) I will be giving some tips on how to stay happy and healthy in 2021.

Coming out of lockdown hopefully means we are feeling more positive about the rest of the year, but it can also be filled with worry, what lies ahead or how healthy we might stay.

Many people my age won’t be getting their vaccine straight away, this means we still need to be cautious and respectful to others. Everyone should accept other peoples decisions on what they are comfortable doing, and getting regularly tested should be encouraged. Getting tested for COVID is also important for stopping the virus from spreading and protecting others. Registering with the doctor and staying aware of the health of the others around you is also equally important to stay healthy and happy.

Alongside registering for doctors near you, you should also make sure you are registered with a dentist and book regular optician’s appointments, especially after spending so much time online which may have put a strain on your eyes!

Food is one of the best ways to ensure you stay healthy. Having a healthy and balanced diet is really important, especially when working to help the brain function. This also ties in with drinking enough water which is key to staying healthy and feeling good. I find following recipes from BBCGoodFood is a really helpful way to add variety to my meals and a good balance between meat, carbs and vegetables. Home cooking has been proven to be much better for you than ready meals or takeaways, but the occasional treat is good for everyone too.

Another free and easy way to stay healthy is ensuring that you get enough sleep at night, particularly as we are now coming up to a busy exam season. My family always say ‘every hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after’, so staying up late and having a lie-in often isn’t a very good use of time. Being sleep deprived can have some very bad consequences such as poor reaction time and lack of focus. Having enough sleep so is important when fighting illness and staying healthy. Getting up slightly earlier to do exercise before work is proven to be beneficial and help with productivity.

I find one of the best ways I stay happy and healthy is exercising with friends. As I am part of a rowing team I train with friends most days of the week, this gives me a focus and a reason to get up in the morning. It is important to have a good balance of early morning sessions and enough recovery between exercise.

Joining a sports club is the best way to ensure the exercise you are doing is good and not just overworking yourself. Although this is not easy at the moment, you can find online clubs to join, and hopefully gyms will be open again soon! (Stay healthy at home – SportsPark)

Even if you find yourself tight for time, a 10-minute run or core session is always better than nothing! Google is often really helpful if you need some more guidance or structure on what sort of exercise you want to do, especially when working towards a goal. Following a training program or working towards a goal is a good way of staying motivated. Running a 5k or 10k is a good goal and can help you stay more positive when exercising to work towards that.

Sometimes though, just getting out for a walk – getting some fresh air can do wonders for your happiness and health.

Remember alongside your psychical health, your mental health is important too. Just talking to somebody else, someone you trust can make you feel ten times better. Keeping connected has never been more important. We all have our own ways of doing this, but remember the University has so many great support networks for you including organisations such as TogetherAll, a safe place online for you to express your feelings, and best of all it is free to UoR students!

Student Space also has some great articles and tips for students during the pandemic.

In summary, being aware of your health is one of the most important steps to staying healthy and doing lots of little things are often more beneficial than one dramatic change. For World Health Day and Bee Active, Bee Healthy, Bee Happy Week see if you can change two small things in your everyday life as these can make a massive difference.

For example, mine are:

  • Put my phone down 15 mins before bed and read
  • Get into a routine following the rowing training programme, working towards BUCS and Henley Women’s Regatta

Stay happy, healthy and active!

Lara Brittain

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