April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day. This day is aimed to create awareness on specific health topics highlighted around the world. “Health" on SU Campus will mean something completely different when compared to other populations due to our unique demographic of staff and students. The American College Health Association (ACHA) states that the some of the top health issues in a university population are: Mental health, sleep, physical inactivity, substance abuse and nutrition.
Mental health: It is no surprise that “mental health" has been a buzz word in recent months, seeing as uncertainty was a feeling, we had to get use to. But how do we look after of our mental health? Where do we even start to organize our thoughts? Start by writing down your feelings – writing your thoughts and feelings down can help clarify what is going on in your mind. Take it slow – dealing with your feelings and thoughts can be overwhelming, it is ok to take your time! Another option would be, seeking professional help. Stellenbosch University's Centre for Student Counselling and Development (CSCD) provides support to all students and staff in need.
Sleep: Think about all the factors that can interfere with a good night's sleep — from work stress and family responsibilities to unexpected challenges, such as illnesses. It's no wonder that quality sleep is sometimes elusive. While you might not be able to control the factors that interfere with your sleep, you can adopt habits that encourage better sleep. Try to stick to a sleep schedule – go to bed the same time every day and try to get 7-8 hours of sleep each day. Pay attention to what you eat and drink – avoid large and heavy meals before bed, as well as nicotine, caffeine and alcohol, as they have stimulating effects and can hinder falling asleep. Limit your daytime naps – this can interfere with night-time sleep.
Physical inactivity: Exercising regularly has endless benefits! Some of these benefits includes an increase in strength, mobility, improved mood, and improved sleep. It also prevents secondary health issues, like diabetes or heart problems. Getting into an exercise regime can sometimes be a bit tricky, but it does not have to be! Start slow and build up gradually – Give yourself time to get into it and get use to it! Be creative and find activities you enjoy and add them to your fitness routine - it does not have to be boring! Always listen to your body: if you feel pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea, take a break. You may be pushing yourself too hard. And do not be too hard on yourself. If you're not feeling good, give yourself permission to take a day or two off.
Nutrition: It is easy to get confused with nutrition and it is not like you are drawn to a salad after a full day of work! What we eat fuels our bodies and gives us the needed energy to get through the day. We can not expect to be our best if what we put in our bodies are not the best. Try to avoid eating processed/junk food – these foods are low in fibre, protein and micronutrients and has all the bad ingredients like sugar and refined grains. Don't fear coffee – coffee is high in antioxidants but be aware of the amount of sugar you add to it. Drink enough water – drinking water has numerous benefits and have been linked with increased metabolism. Eat vegetables and fruits - Studies show this will lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other illnesses. Lastly, make sure to eat enough protein - High protein intake can boost metabolism significantly while making you feel full enough to automatically eat fewer calories. It can also reduce cravings and your desire to snack late at night.
It is important to consider that health consists of various spheres and integration of all these spheres ensures a healthy body and mind!
At Campus Health Service, we aim to provide an accessible and comprehensive healthcare service for all staff and students, whether it is nutritional advice or how to take the first steps to becoming more physically active. Visit our CHS Website to view all services we provide and feel free to contact us for any specific queries. Together we can build a healthier and stronger Stellenbosch community!