Whether you’re a first or third year, freshers’ week can be one hell of a shock to the system, leaving you a little worse for wear once lectures roll around. It’s an intrinsic, enjoyable, and in many ways essential part of university life, but can set you up for a few bad habits if you aren’t careful. I’m now in my fourth year of university, and have seen my fair share of freshers’ weeks, and the come downs from them!
Whilst we can go back to “normal” after an indulgent holiday, often, there is no normal post-freshers. Even if you’re not a first year, or have lived away from your family before, most new academic years mean new housemates and new situations. In one respect this is quite exciting as the new semester is an opportunity to start anew. However, the often full-throttle nature of freshers’ can set you up for some not-so healthy or productive behaviour, so here are some tips to help you recover and start the year well:
Sort out a sleep routine
“Sleep is for the weak or sleep for a week”… sooner than you know it, those 9am lectures will start rolling around and if you start skipping them now, you’ll be doing so all year. Don’t force yourself to get up at 6am if that’s not how you’re wired, but get up at a sensible time everyday. Ideally try to go to sleep and wake up within the same half hour to an hour window each day. That way, you’ll likely bounce back from nights out that little bit better. Think about sleep hygiene: close the curtains, buy a bedside lamp if you don’t already have one, get some water or herbal tea and get tucked in. If you tend to be texting friends and loved ones right before you sleep, turn off wifi or at least avoid Facebook to help you wind down.
Practice making healthy comfort food
Dig out that student cookbook that your parent’s bought you and highlight five recipes that look appealing. Look for recipes that include at least a couple of portions of veg and ideally both a serving of fat and protein. I have a whole recipe section dedicated to being healthy on a budget if you’d like an alternative to the same chicken stir fry recipe that resides in every student cookbook. And whilst there is definitely nothing wrong with pasta and rice (they’re cheap and filling, which makes them a healthy university essential!) you can always try grating vegetables or peeling them into strips to bulk up your meal with extra goodness. Making food that is comforting and delicious will make healthy eating much more appealing when you’ve had a long day.
Take some time to yourself
Fresher’s week can be pretty people-packed, with much time being dedicated towards meeting new and old friends, and getting involved in a host of societies. You don’t have to be an introvert to be craving some alone time after a week. Take an afternoon or evening to give yourself some classic pampering with a face mask and nail polish, and find a book or film to keep you entertained. Or if your kitchen doesn’t get too busy, take the time to get busy in the kitchen. I find a tried-and-tested baking session to be the perfect way to tune out for an hour. Plus, you get brownie points for sharing you, uh, brownies with housemates.
Commit to a sports society
…or sample a few. If your society fairs are anything like mine, you’ll have been encouraged to sign up to far more groups than you could hope to attend. Make use of free taster sessions and pick one or two you think you’d like to give a go. There will be lots of other new members, so your experience level won’t be an issue. It’s a great way to get involved in university life, get fit and meet a new group.
Buy a water bottle
With long days of back to back lectures and library sessions, it is very easy to become dehydrated or end up buying expensive drinks in single use plastic containers. Get into a good habit from the get go by always having a water bottle to hand. Some cool water will help to keep you perked up sans coffee and feeling at your best.