Your health and wellbeing

A key element of ensuring your University success is to look after your health and wellbeing. Getting organised during your first few weeks can really help.

If you haven't already been vaccinated with Meningococcal ACWY (MenACWY) vaccine before the beginning of the new academic term, we recommend that you do so soon after enrolment. Your GP will provide this vaccine but if you choose to register with our onsite GP they can also provide the vaccine. There's more information available online about MenACWY.

Your mental and physical health are of vital importance as being healthy can help you to reach your full potential academically. As the saying goes, 'healthy body, healthy mind'.

GP surgery registration

Park Medical Practice is based at the Kedleston Road site of our Derby Campus. If you're going to be studying in Derby you can register with this practice. Once you've enrolled at the University, you can collect a form from the receptionist, complete this and hand it back in. Registration takes approx. 2 weeks but you can access the GP if necessary within this time. If you're going to be studying at our Buxton or Chesterfield Campuses you need to register with a GP surgery within the area. If you’re living at home you should be registered with a doctor near to where you live. You can find your local NHS GP surgery and NHS Dentist here.

We've put together some tips to help you look after yourself and increase your potential to go further.

A healthy diet is important not just for our physical and mental health, it also allows us to maintain concentration and energy which are vital for studying.

If your diet is poor, you'll end up feeling sluggish, tired and struggling to concentrate and you may also find your mood becoming lower. We have lots of tips on how to maintain a healthy diet and on how to eat well cheaply.

We also have some student recipe websites for you to try:

The NHS also have a recipe app called “One You Easy Meals” as part of their One You campaign.

Eat well cheaply

  • Plan your budget - work out how much you're going to spend on food each week and stick to it
  • Cook with friends - if you each take turns buying and cooking a meal you'll save money
  • Get back to basics - processed food is a pricey option because you're paying for the processing. It's much cheaper and often more nutritious to buy basic ingredients and make your own meals
  • Compare prices - shop around. Find out whether your local greengrocer or market stall is better value than the supermarket. You'll also often save a few pence by buying a supermarket's own products, rather than the big brands
  • Shop seasonally - it stands to reason that in the middle of winter you'll pay more for strawberries flown in from a distant corner of the world, so save by buying your fruit and veg when it's in season
  • Don't be seduced by special offers - getting 20p off, three for the price of two, or 15% extra is great if it's something useful. But don't fill the cupboards with cake just because it's on special offer
  • Cook batches - it can be expensive buying a different set of ingredients for every meal so it's a good idea to cook up a batch of food. After cooking, cool the food quickly (within one to two hours), then freeze in serving-sized portions. Make sure you reheat the food until it's steaming hot all the way through
  • Watch your waste - if you buy food that goes off quickly, plan your meals so it all gets eaten or frozen for future use

We cannot underestimate how important good sleep is for academic performance and our physical and mental wellbeing. If we get less sleep than we need, we become tired, irritable and less able to function. Lack of sleep also reduces our ability to concentrate, remember and think creatively - all of which are vital for academic work. This in turn can affect our mood, as we feel less able to cope with life, which in turn increases anxiety and disrupts our sleep further. All of this usually stops once the 'sleep debt' is repaid.

It can be difficult at the start of term to establish a good sleeping pattern. There are lots of parties or conversations that go on late into the night. You may also be sleeping in a new environment and your sleep may be more disturbed while you get used to your new surroundings. Do not worry if you find this happening to you. Student life does settle down after the first few weeks and once you catch up on your sleep you will be fine.

Here are some tips on how to improve your sleep and establish a good sleeping pattern:

Environment

Make sure your bedroom is an ideal place for sleep. Remove any sources of stimulation, and try and make sure your room is dark and that your bed is comfortable. Placing a padded mattress cover or thin quilt underneath your bedsheets can make your bed feel softer! Many people find that laundering their bed clothes more regularly at times of stress can make their bed feel more welcoming and can improve sleep.

Times

Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. This will help condition your body to sleep properly at night.

Diet

Avoid eating meals at least 2 to 3 hours before sleeping and avoid rich foods high in sugars and fats and drinking caffeine late at night. On average, it takes your body 5 to 6 hours to eliminate half of the caffeine in your system. Some people find that hot milk and honey can encourage sleep and certain teas have been known to help such as chamomile, lavender or peppermint.

Study

Studying before an exam or assignment deadline is of course important. However, studying just before you go to bed will stimulate your brain and increase your anxiety levels just when you want them to be lowered. Leave a two hour gap between finishing study and going to bed.

Socialising

Again, it is tempting during busy periods to stop socialising so you can focus on study and it certainly wouldn’t make sense to party every night. But we all need social contact with other people and spending time with friends and family can help to reduce anxiety. Plan to meet up with people whose company you enjoy, for a sensible period of time, without it impacting on your studies.

Go outside

Sunshine is a natural anti-depressant and fresh air helps to stimulate our senses. A brief walk outside can help raise mood and lower anxiety.

Music

Music has been found to alter mood more quickly and effectively than anything else. Find some music that helps you relax and listen to this shortly before going to bed.

Showers/baths

Have a shower or bath 20 minutes before you go to bed. Your body temperature naturally decreases by up to 2 degrees whilst you sleep and having a warm shower or bath can help imitate this and prepare your body to fall asleep.

Alcohol and drugs

If you struggle to get to sleep, it can be tempting to use alcohol or drugs. While this may help you fall to sleep, as your body metabolizes the alcohol or drugs later in the night, it will wake you up and make it more difficult to get back to sleep. Using alcohol and drugs in this way is also likely to affect your mood and ultimately raise your anxiety levels further.

 

Exercise helps us to sleep and relax; it increases our energy levels and improves concentration and memory. Exercise also helps to get rid of the adrenaline that anxiety stimulates.

Student life can seem very busy and it can be easy to stop exercising, but in doing so you will probably reduce your energy levels and your academic performance.

Find time to exercise regularly during the day and make sure you are getting at least two hours of cardio-vascular exercise each week. However, you should avoid exercising late in an evening. Allow time for your body to recuperate and relax after exercise before going to bed.

TeamDerby

Team Derby Fitness offers a range of services and facilities for all, from those very new to exercise to the dedicated athlete. TDF aims to provide all its members with realistic opportunities to enhance and support a healthy lifestyle. Team Derby Fitness aims to inspire and empower people to develop their energy, vitality and performance and to be passionate about enabling people to live happy, healthy and productive lives.

The Athletic Union (AU) is an integral part of the Union of Students. It has one of the biggest membership bases in the Union and offers anything from your traditional sports, such as Rugby, Football, Hockey and Netball to less traditional alternatives such as Dodgeball, Archery and American Football.

Any University of Derby student can be a member of a sports club by joining the Athletic Union, whether you are trying a sport for the first time or you are an experienced player. Each club trains or meets up every week meaning they are a great way to keep active or just to meet students who all share the same interest.

Student life can seem to revolve around alcohol. Drinking in moderation is an enjoyable and usually harmless feature of student life.

Getting drunk regularly can have potentially serious physical, social and academic effects. Even drinking to excess just occasionally can be damaging.

In the short term, drinking too much can impair academic performance because your concentration will be worse and you're more likely to miss classes, hand in your work late and do badly in exams.

But it can also put you at immediate risk of serious situations ranging from date rape to car crashes. If you're drunk, you're also more likely to be a victim of violence or to have unprotected sex, which carries all the associated risks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy.

In the longer term, regularly drinking too much can cause liver disease, an increased risk of heart attack, weight gain and a number of different cancers. Such problems are now occurring at younger ages as alcohol use has increased.

The healthy choice in the short-term is to take just a little extra care to protect yourself and your friends when you are going out drinking (for instance, know your own limits and make sure you know how to get home safely). If you have had a heavy drinking session, you should remain alcohol-free for a full 48 hours to give your body tissues time to recover.

In the longer-term, you do need to have an idea how much you're drinking on a regular basis, in units of alcohol, so you can keep your risks low. The NHS recommends:

  • Men should not regularly drink more than three to four units a day.
  • Women should not regularly drink more than two to three units a day.

If you are concerned about the amount you are drinking or feel that you cannot perform regular tasks without drinking you may want to speak to someone about this.

You can make an appointment to see a university counsellor by calling +44 (0)1332 593000

www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support

www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support/the-risks-of-drinking-too-much

Experimenting with drugs can sometimes be presented as part of the student experience.

But drugs are illegal for a reason. Aside from the risks to your mental and physical health, using drugs can make you more likely to behave in ways which are dangerous.

A small but significant proportion of regular drug-users can come to rely on cannabis or become addicted to drugs such as heroin or cocaine. Any such addiction can have a disastrous effect on your studies and your health.

The legal penalties for drug possession can be severe for some drugs - up to seven years in prison for the possession of a Class A drug like cocaine. Also, the university has a very clear 'no tolerance' policy on drugs. Possession or use of drugs can see you expelled from you hall of residence or your course.

The best way to minimise the risk from drugs is not to use them. Failing that, find out as much information as you can about any drugs you're using, including the risks, the potential for addiction and what happens when you mix one drug with another or with alcohol.

For more information on drugs and their effects, call the confidential FRANK helpline on +44 (0)800 776600 or visit the FRANK website.

If you are concerned about your drug use, the university offers a confidential counselling service. You can make an appointment to speak to a counsellor by calling +44 (0)1332 593000.

Derby, Buxton and Chesterfield are relatively safe and friendly, however it's important to keep yourself safe, when out and about follow these tips:

  • Walk confidently and be aware of what's going on around you at all times.
  • If you're planning to have drink make sure you know how you're getting home before you go out. Book a taxi or make an arrangement with a friend to get home together.
  • Keep bags closed, zipped up and buckled. Be extra careful with rucksacks. If someone grabs it, let it go. Bags - and their contents - can be replaced.
  • Carry your wallet out of sight.
  • When using a cash machine, go in daylight or choose a well-lit one.
  • If you're taking your laptop somewhere, keep it hidden in an anonymous bag like a rucksack. If you take your mobile out with you, keep it hidden and keep calls brief.
  • If you suspect you're being followed, cross over the road see if they follow. If they do go into a pub or shop to call a mate or the police.
  • Have your house keys ready before you reach the door - and carry them in your pockets, not in your bag. Rummaging around for them means you're not looking at what's around you.
  • Remember if you're chatting on the phone or listening to your personal stereo, you won't hear someone come up behind you. Your hearing is your best protection; your voice is your best defense. If you're attacked, shout and run.
  • If something does happen to you, report it to the police and campus authorities. You could stop it happening to someone else.
  • Personal Alarms are available from all Union of Students reception points, charged at a minimal cost but well worth investing in for your personal safety and peace of mind.