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Getting Ahead of the Stress-Nutrition-Sleep Cycle for International Students

Being able to study abroad in a new environment is an exciting opportunity for any student. You can fully immerse yourself in a new culture and learn things that you would never be able to pick up from a book. 

However, while studying internationally can be fun and exciting, it can also create some mental and physical health concerns if you don’t address them right away (ideally before you set foot on the plane!). 

Some of the biggest issues international students face are not getting enough sleep, dealing with extra stress, and improper nutrition. The workload and expectations of school combined with a new environment can wreak havoc on your mind and body if you don’t take proactive steps to manage your well-being. 

Unfortunately, if you don’t take care of yourself, you can fall into a vicious cycle. By not getting enough sleep, you’ll increase your stress levels. Increased stress can lead to unhealthy eating habits and make it harder to sleep. 

So, what can you do? How can you get ahead of the stress-nutrition-sleep cycle and enjoy your time abroad to the fullest?

Reducing Stress

As a student, you might think stress is just a normal part of life. While a little bit of stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing, too much can impact your well-being in a variety of ways. It can contribute to:

  • Mental health issues
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Strokes

When combined with a lack of nutrition and not enough sleep, too much stress can also cause skin problems, including psoriasis and eczema. 

Stress doesn’t just take a toll on your health. It can contribute to a negative cycle that causes your sleep to suffer. It can already be difficult for international students to maintain a healthy sleep schedule when they’re in a new time zone. Stress only makes it worse. The more “anxious” you are when you try to sleep each night, the harder it will be to get the sleep you need. You might also start to reach for foods that provide comfort or start to eat out of boredom, which can throw off your well-being even further.

So, what can you do to manage stress? 

First, don’t devote your entire life to studying. It’s important, but you’re in a new country – take advantage of that! Dive into a new hobby, take part in extracurricular activities, and think positively about your unique experience. By finding small ways to de-stress each day, you’ll make better, healthier choices in other areas of your life. 

Eating Better

There are plenty of stereotypes surrounding students and unhealthy eating habits. Hopefully, if you’re studying in a place like Italy or France, you’re not going to be microwaving ramen noodles on a nightly basis. However, you can still throw a wrench in your nutrition by indulging in pizza and pasta every day. While you should absolutely try the incredible creations each country is known for (we’re looking at you, French pastries!), it’s important to maintain healthy eating habits while studying abroad. 

The old saying, “you are what you eat” rings true in many ways. 

Maintaining a healthy diet can help to give you energy, improve your physical health, and have a profound impact on your mental well-being. Stress tends to impact your nutrition, causing you to reach for comfort foods or overeat too often. Studies have shown that diets rich in whole foods are associated with less depression, stress, and anxiety. 

Eating poorly can also make it harder to get adequate sleep. Not only can a lack of nutrients lead to sleep problems, but eating something acidic, high in sugar, or high in fat can also make it difficult to get to sleep. Again, that contributes to the vicious cycle, creating even bigger problems for your time abroad.  

You don’t have to restrict yourself completely when it comes to your diet in another country. Have fun and enjoy regional cuisine. However, make sure you’re practicing mindful eating, rather than reaching for something when you’re stressed or bored. The more mindful you are of each bite, the more you’ll appreciate it. 

Getting Enough Sleep

We’ve touched briefly on how sleep plays into the stress and nutrition cycle, but how are they all connected? Sleep and stress are extremely interwoven. The less sleep you get, the more stressed you’re likely to feel. The more stressed you are, the less sleep you’ll get. 

While reducing your stress levels is important, it’s just as essential to form healthy sleep habits and even to develop a nighttime routine. Students are, once again, stereotyped when it comes to getting enough sleep. You don’t need to fall into those stereotypes and stay up all night. Instead, practice positive sleep hygiene by:

  • Going to sleep at the same time each night
  • Waking up at the same time each morning
  • Stopping the use of digital devices an hour before bed
  • Not drinking alcohol or caffeine several hours before bed
  • Setting up an ideal sleep environment

From sleeping and eating to finding ways to de-stress, getting ahead of this harmful cycle is crucial when you’re studying abroad. Taking charge of your health and fitness now will benefit you later in life, especially when you’re starting to search for a career. You’ll have a greater ability to concentrate and you’ll know how to navigate your surroundings. Start putting these suggestions into practice now, and you’ll be able to better enjoy your international experience, as well as a brighter future. 

Huge thanks to Frankie Wallace for this guest post. Frankie Wallace is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys writing about education, personal development, and technology. Frankie spends her free time cultivating her zero waste garden or off hiking in the mountains of the PNW with her loved ones.

How To Relieve Stress In College

Choosing a college and future profession is one of the most important steps in the life of each student, as it basically defines their future. Moving from parents to campus is a responsible step, and we all went through this period of life. New home, new friends, a new society, new subjects—everything seems so unknown but exciting. However, do not be nervous if you think that you are not 100% ready for this adult life, as the review writing service the best writers online proves—everything comes with experience.

You need some time to get used to your surroundings, and this period can last not as long as you may expect. Most students feel a little confused at the beginning of their education, but there are numerous ways to get acquainted with your new life and become a winner in it. 

Attend extracurricular events

We recommend visiting events organized by other students to meet your classmates and maybe new friends. Of course, you need to come on your own for the first time, but it is the first step in finding new friends and getting along with them. Just be yourself and try to feel free, as it is a great time in your life that will never repeat, so just enjoy it and have fun. Making friendship is vital during your college trip as they tend to go with you through your whole life.

Find a hobby

If you already have the activities and hobbies that help you feel relaxed, it is high time to go for them. If you do not have any, then you should ask yourself what really makes you happy and relieved. You can sign up for yoga classes, get a writing judge to a specific book club, go for cheerleading, college sports team, and many other things to do. Make sure that your new hobbies help you connect with other people in college that will make your student life brighter. 

Meditation

Meditation is one of the best ways that will definitely help you feel less stressed and more filled with energy and inspiration. You can turn on the meditation on your smartphone in the morning or evening, in college during the break, while walking, and so on. It is mostly audio meditation, with a detailed tutorial on what you should do to relieve stress. You can also write down and record your own meditation with the words and phrases you would like to hear most at the moment. Meditations take some time to start working for your benefit, so you have to practice meditations for several weeks to feel the results.

Get things well-organized

Planning is one of the most useful habits you can gain. Make sure that you plan your daily activities like waking up, morning exercise, college classes, activities after classes, meeting friends, attending events, and so on. When you know what you are going to do during your day or week, you will not just have spare time to feel bored. In case you have too much free time, you can think of new activities with your new friends that will connect you better and enable your friendly relationships.

Positive thinking

This is not something imaginary, it is a great skill that you should be proficient in. It is not an easy task to start thinking positively right away. To enhance this ability, you should follow what you are thinking about—try to banish all negative thoughts. Moreover, write down some positive affirmations and read them every morning to remind yourself of your goals and values in life. Additionally, read some books that teach people positive thinking and its working techniques. It is also vital to wisely pick the literature you read, as not all books and articles you can find on the web or in libraries are worth paying attention to.

Get support from your family

College is the first step in your adult life, but do not be afraid to ask for support from your family members. You can tell them about your worries and get the necessary tips, or you can visit them more often. Of course, your new friends can also back you in difficult moments, but nobody can calm you down better than your closest relatives.

To end up

You may have heard that people usually attract things in the life of which they are thinking about. Watch your thoughts and do not get down if you don’t achieve the aims that you are willing to. You should explore your brain to know what things make you happy anyway and what things really disappoint you to avoid meeting them. In addition, think of keeping a healthy lifestyle in the way of diet and regular exercises. It helps people stay sharp and think positively as your thoughts define how much stress you will feel and how quickly you will handle it on your own.

Frank Hamilton has been working as an editor at essay writing service Trust My Paper. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, digital marketing and self-education. He also loves travelling and speaks Spanish, French, German and English.