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Top tips for staying healthy in January

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January – it’s like the Monday of the year. Christmas and New Year has passed, exams that you haven’t started revising for are looming and that cold you picked up still hasn’t budged. Here’s how to avoid the dreaded flu, stay healthy and on top form…  

Eat well. We’ve all heard the saying ‘you are what you eat’ but with so many ready meals and take-aways so readily available, it becomes harder to stick to fresh, wholesome foods that are healthier.

Buy fresh fruit and vegetables from markets or in low-cost supermarkets such as the Co-op or Asda, and look around for deals. Eating fruit and vegetables is essential for keeping up productivity, keeping skin clear and ensuring that you are more able to fight off illnesses. Fear not if you can’t keep up buying fresh fruit as you can try tinned deals in supermarkets, where you can buy five cans of the stuff for a lot cheaper. This also means that when you have a blow-out at your local Dominos, you don’t have to feel too guilty! Chopped peppers count as one of your five-a-day. Right?!

Avoid takeaways! Although they may seem like a great option at the end of the night, stumbling home ravenous when the thought of cooking seems too much effort, your health (and purse!) will thank you in the long run. Takeaways are usually high in salt, sugar and fat and there is a higher likelihood at catching food poisoning than your own efforts! Or if you can’t avoid it altogether, try limiting it to a once-a-week treat.

Get some sleep. It’s equally unhealthy to have a six-hour sleep as much as it is to have a 14 hour rest, so aim to get about eight hours. This will allow you to recharge, giving you more productivity and allowing you to finish those assignments without slumping!

Lessen alcohol consumption. It’s hard to avoid alcohol altogether as it’s a part of many students' lifestyles at university, be it nights out, quiet drinks at the pub or sports socials, but try to enjoy alcohol in moderation. Your head and your budget will later thank you for it! Hangovers can also wreak havoc on your diet and will tempt you into eating junk food. So before having those shots at the bar, tread carefully…

Do some exercise. If you are gym-phobic and the thought of having a heavy session makes you curl up in shivers, try walking to lectures instead of taking the bus. Additionally, universities have a thriving sports scene (as well as an active social life!) so join a sport with your friend to make the hour where you play on the field more enjoyable. And no, going downstairs to the fridge doesn’t count as your daily exercise! If you have a gym membership, use it!

Drink lots of water! Although this is a fairly obvious and boring one, drinking lots of water keeps headaches, and tiredness at bay.

Stress levels. Looming exams and coursework deadlines not to mention cramming in last minute trips to the library as well as trying to maintain a healthy diet can lead to high stress levels for many students. Before panicking and causing headaches and even illness, create a timetable to fit all your activities and have a few hours off in the evening to relax. Even consider taking up a meditation activity - yoga?

Sexual health. More than a third of new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) are in young people aged 16-24 so always use contraception. Also take advantage of the University Health Centre, where you can get chlamydia screening, contraception, emergency contraception and pregnancy testing.

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