Staying healthy when really busy

I present you all with the constant problem us uni students face each and every day…

chocolate vs apple - healthy study snack choicesOur busy selves glare at the chocolate when all of a sudden it transforms into Pitbull singing “I know you want me”. Yet, when we look over at the apple, its song lyrics go something like “stay with me, ‘cos I’m all you neeeeed”, Sam Smith style.

Or is this just me?

Nonetheless, because keeping healthy while really busy is challenging, I have put together 8 tips to help maintain healthy habits and wellbeing during a full-on schedule…

  1. Plan meals in advance.
    Take the time to plan what meals you will have during busy periods so that you can stock up your pantry and fridge with as many supplies possible. Not having to go grocery shopping and knowing what you are having each day helps prevent reverting to bad habits such as take-out because of time restrictions.
  1. Healthy snacks.
    While planning in advance, stock up with healthy snacks that you can take with you to uni/work or that can sit beside your computer while you study. We all find ourselves eating for no valid reason when busy, so it’s probably best we fuel ourselves with nutritious foods. The snacks on my list include yoghurt, pieces of fruit, nuts, dried fruit, muesli bars, crackers and low fat dip. This is the only way I have learnt to overcome the chocolate VS apple debate, otherwise it’s so easy to let the chocolate win you over for a sugar hit!

    P.S. I have found having no chocolate in the house helps!
    sugar cravings - resist the temptation!

  1. Stay hydrated.
    Being a uni student often means sitting at the computer for hours on end during busy periods. All of the important things, like drinking enough water throughout the day, are easily forgotten unless you are dying of thirst. I have now learnt to have a water bottle beside my computer at all times to avoid one of those “out of sight, out of mind” scenarios.
  1. View exercise as a priority, not an option.
    Talking from experience during busy times, exercise becomes something we “don’t have time” for. I have only recently begun to shake this bad habit after realising just how much better you feel after just 30 minutes of exercise a day. Whether it is a walk around the block, run on the treadmill while watching a lecture, Wii fit session, gym circuit or whatever else you would prefer, JUST DO IT!
  1. Get enough sleep.
    I am no expert on this tip. When it comes to getting enough sleep when life is hectic, I am as guilty as they come. For some reason, I become a night owl with the idea that staying up until ungodly hours of the night will induce productive work. The downside to this notion of mine is that sometimes the only outcome of this decision is the awesome greeting when opening your Word document that says “pick up where you left off 6 hours ago (3.30am)”. It is probably most wise to remember the advice of health professionals, particularly when life is crazy, and aim for between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night to recuperate and allow the brain to function!
  1. Prepare frozen meals.
    If you find yourself constantly busy, put aside some time on weekends to prepare meals that can be frozen. That way, during the week, it is just a matter of defrost, heat and eat! And the bonus is, it’s healthy!
  1. Bring your planned meals to uni/work.
    Don’t let all your hard work go to waste. It is so easy to become tempted when out of the house to grab something naughty from the close-by cafeteria. This is avoided by taking your meals with you. P.S. Don’t forget the cutlery (advice from she who has done so)!
  1. Say no to stress in your life.
    Try not to make extra work for yourself when life is busy. Although our world would be disadvantaged without “yes” people, sometimes we need to learn to say no. Don’t overload yourself and find time to relax! The last thing we want is to become sick at a time we can least afford to be!

    Have you got any tips about staying healthy during hectic busy periods for me? I would love to hear them!

Top 10 Stress Busters

Studying at university can be stressful particularly when assignments are due, or when we are about to undertake our exams. It is so easy to believe that you are alone and that all those around you are not feeling the same pressure as you, but this is not true. Everyone is stressed at these times. So when you are feeling the urge to pull out your hair, bang your head on the wall, or just sit in a corner and cry, just remember that there are many ways to relieve the pressure on yourself.

So here is my top 10 list of STRESS BUSTERS

# 1 – Have coffee with a friend!

This is the best thing to do! Meet up with some of your friends and have a nice cuppa and just talk. You don’t have to talk about study, assignments or anything serious in fact simply talking about every day run of the mill things will take your mind off your troubles and  calm you down. There are some great meeting spots on-campus to have a cuppa and chat.

# 2 – The Japanese Gardens!

If you haven’t seen them, you are missing out. They are at the Toowoomba campus and they are amazing. Just sit back, relax and take it all in.

# 3 – Listen to music!

Find a quiet, dark spot, put on your headphones and listen to your favourite music. Blocking out the whole world, even if it’s only for half an hour or an hour, is very soothing.

# 4 – Walk!

If you have a dog, then take Rover for a walk.  Everything around you will appear to slow down. If you don’t have a dog, then take yourself for a walk. Don’t always walk the same route, walk a new route each day. It is amazing what you see on foot. Early mornings are a great time to walk!

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# 5 – Laugh! Laugh! Laugh!

They say that laughter is the key to happiness! If you are feeling really out of sorts with stress then watch some comedy on YouTube or join a laughter club. They are all the rage and the experts are praising the healing benefits of having a good laugh. There are clubs in Toowoomba:

# 6 – Exercise!

I know it can be hard to get going, but a good workout will provide immediate relief from tension. Even if you can’t bring yourself to break into a sweat, any form of exercise that gets the blood circulating will release the endorphins. Swimming, skipping, stretching or Tai Chi, are fantastic and fun ways to exercise.

# 7 – Be prepared!

This sounds boring and dull but it really does help to relieve the pressure from stressful situations. If you are going into exams, get yourself organised the day before. Pack all the items that you will need, plan the route that you are taking to your examination venue, have some healthy snacks packed to get the brain cells working and leave in plenty of time to get there with time to spare. And of course get plenty of sleep the night before.

# 8 – Chocolate!

It doesn’t matter who you are, this really works and needs no explanation.

# 9 – The unusual Options!

  • Wear a rubber band on your wrist – flick it when you’re stressed
  • Drink orange juice – it is believed to make you feel less anxious
  • Chew gum – studies have shown that it reduces anxiety, stress and enhances multitasking
  • Paint – get out the brushes and paint, it is said to promote relaxation
  • Blow up balloons – It forces you to breathe deeply, this will relieve stress

# 10 – Read the little book of calm by Paul Wilson!

No, seriously this is a real book, I actually own a copy and it has the most incredibly amusing tips for keeping calm and relaxed. It will definitely put a smile on your face and provide some really obscure tips like:  ‘Wear Donald Duck underpants’ & ‘Add a dab of lavender to milk; leave town with an orange, and pretend you’re laughing at it’.

Here’s a funny clip that may help to relieve stress:

If you have any useful Stress Buster tips please share with all of us, we would love to hear from you!

Until next time,

– Lisa

Your Future: Here and Now

By the time you have finished reading this blog, you will know my secret. It’s not a bad secret, or one that is embarrassing. It’s a secret to success. It’s the secret to where I am today, and how I had so much fun getting here. Enjoy :)

It’s coming to that time of year when everything seems to be winding up. It’s nearly the end of semester (or term) and the ties start to get a bit looser, the sun starts to get a bit brighter and you know that the end is in sight. With Christmas and New Years just around the corner, who doesn’t love this time of year?

However it got me thinking, this time last year I was about to take the big leap into the unknown. I was about to finish year 12 and graduate from education as I knew it. I was about to enter a world of freedom, liberty…and working outside the school hours of 9:00am to 3:00pm, Monday to Friday.

Let’s face it, popular topics among friends included…Will I have a gap year? Will I go straight to uni? Which university will I go to? What do I even want to study? Will I move out of home?

Will I? What if? How come? Huh? Ohh…it’s too hard. What’s on this weekend? :)

However at this point in the year, contrary to my friends, I was hardly stressed at all. I had a little secret up my sleeve! No I wasn’t best friends with the OP fairy, I didn’t have enough money to purchase a degree off eBay, and I didn’t have a double identity known as Miley Cyrus.

Mine was a little secret I like to call…(drumroll)…The USQ Head Start Program.

Ohh, great secret Amanda, how is that meant to help me face life-after-schoolies? Well, I am going to tell you how.

I completed a USQ Head Start program between the summer holidays of year 11 and 12, studying Accounting for Decision making. I chose this semester because it DIDN’T EVEN IMPACT ON MY SCHOOL STUDIES!! (#winningatlife). What else is great is that I ended up getting a High Distinction in the subject!

However I am sure you all want to know why this program is a secret to success. My Head Start course was my secret weapon to my success in three ways:

Number One: Graduating from high-school with a future

At the end of year 12, when my friends were worrying about applying for university and hoping they would get in, I was sitting back and having a nice glass of satisfaction. By completing my Head Start course the year before, I had guaranteed myself entry into my degree (providing I met the pre-requisites), guaranteed myself a place at USQ, knew that I could move out of home and pay pretty cheap rent/expenses (and move back in for the night when I was sick of 2-minute noodles).

For me, this was great. I could graduate from high-school knowing that by putting in a bit of extra effort earlier, it set me up for life in a lot of areas. I even only put one preference on my QTAC application: Bachelor of Business at USQ (Shh don’t tell my guidance officer!).


Number Two: Bragging rights!

I’m going to be honest with you; it does feel pretty good (even now) to say, “Yeah, you know, I started studying my university degree while I was still in high-school. They paid the fees for me too. What of it?”

Okay, so I may have been a bit more humble in reality. However I’m not just talking about bragging rights to your friends, the completion of a Head Start course looks great on a resume and scholarship application!! So:

  • Bragging rights to friends/ teachers/family (obviously for pure gratification)
  • An awesome point for a resume – shows motivation, dedication and commitment. I always put the completion of Head Start as a key point on my resume. It not only shows that you were able to actually handle the work load, but it shows you took the initiative to do something extra. This could lead to work experience and a potential career. In many cases I have seen it become the foot in the door to the student’s future.
  • Looks amazing on a scholarship application = possible free money. When you apply for a scholarship at USQ, putting the completion of a Head Start course looks a-m-a-z-i-n-g! It shows you are interested in studying at USQ, and it proves you are above and beyond others of your grade.


Number Three: It helped me chose my career…in a rather unexpected fashion.

I was very ambitious in high-school (cough cough). I wanted to earn lots of money. I wanted to wear branded business clothes, and perhaps stylish glasses that only actually contained clear lenses. I wanted to own a big house and holiday at lavish islands. I wanted to be able to work anywhere in the world. And I figured the best way to earn money was to work with money. So I wanted to be an accountant. Hence, I decided to study accounting as a Head Start course.

Ohh, was I in for a shock. Apparently (even though accounting and economics are the only business courses offered at school) there are sooooooo many more courses offered at uni. There was marketing, public relations, HR, tourism, events management, GRAPE AND WINE PRODUCTION, etc.! What’s even better is that with a USQ degree, I could be earning lots of money, wearing branded business outfits and work anywhere in the world with any degree!  So I could actually choose a real degree, for me, with real career prospects.

Through doing the Head Start program, it opened my eyes to what the world really has to offer. Amazing lecturers, amazing careers, amazing research, amazing stories and an amazing degree.  In Year 11, I knew I was part of something much bigger than myself, by school, my city and my country. It felt pretty cool :)


So as I reflect on where I was this time last year, and think of all of those battling through your high-school years, I do have some advice:




These three points sum up what anybody in year 10, 11 and 12 should be doing right now and in the near future. In fact, anyone of any age that can learn from these things:

#beingprepared– it makes everything so much easier and gives you time to enjoy the good things in life.

#lookinggoodbecauseyourworthit – never underestimate yourself because it pays off to look good to the right people.

#openingdoorstotheworld  – possibilities are endless, so why not open the door if there is something great waiting for you on the other side.

For me, these three things are what the Head Start program is aimed at. And for hundreds of students each year, this is what the Head Start program delivers to them.

Don’t wait: your future is here and now.

I didn’t wait: and I can look back and say that I am living my dream.

A Formal Distraction

I think I can safely say on behalf of everyone around the world who is studying, we all need a long holiday to revitalise our minds. Even though we’re only into the third week of this short term, I have already completed 2 assignments with another 3 due this week. With 7 due this term, I’m sure I’m not the only one who will celebrate when it’s all over. I cannot wait for the holidays, a time where I do not have to think about how to manage a crisis or which grab to use from an interview.

Thankfully, living on college has its perks. Concannon is full of distractions for those moments when my brain is too fried to string together a logical sentence. So instead of thinking about stressful things such as assignments and exams, I am going to take you to a land not so far away where Golf Day and Formal are an annual distraction from the lead up to those pesky exams.

The first Thursday back at Concannon, groups of 4 crowded around Clifton Golf Course in crazy costumes armed with cans of Red Bull to give us wings – or at least our golf balls. As can be expected from a group of girls in the hot sun and uncomfortable costumes, we completed the first two holes before having a well-deserved break which lasted the entire afternoon. A BBQ lunch and a few drinks later, the day ended with a bus ride home full of rowdy singing boys.

The hype of Golf Day did not last long with preparations for Formal becoming stressful leading up to the event. Formal is the time of year that everyone anticipates. It reminds us of high-school graduation, except this time most of us can drink. With a few things going horribly wrong (smoking lights) there was stress that the decorations could possibly become a fire hazard. To the relief of our social co-ordinator, Rianna, the night went off without a hitch. The girls were ready several hours before-hand, while the boys were running a little bit late, particularly my boyfriend, Dean, who was putting his tie on 2 minutes before the group photo. However, the dining hall beautifully displayed the Winter Wonderland theme and the non-alcoholic daiquiris were a hit!

While it is very important to get assignments completed and handed in on time, it’s just as important to remember to relax and let go every now and then. By organising time for Concannon events into my study schedule, I can revitalise my mind to string those simple-but-complex-sounding sentences together and hopefully get better grades.

Now, I guess I should get back to studying.