Ask yourself:

  • Have you struggled to keep up good eating habits and fit in exercise while studying at university?
  • Do you want to know what you can do to stay healthy while studying?

By the end of this module you will:

  • Know why you need to prioritise your health and well-being in order to succeed as a student
  • Know what you can do to maintain a healthy lifestyle while studying at university
  • Have identified simple changes you can easily incorporate into your busy student life

What you need to know:

  • It is well known that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be difficult for university students. The stress and demands of study can lead to exercise and healthy diet taking a back seat.
  • Study pressures can also lead to students neglecting their relationships with friends and family at a time when social networks and supports are vital to help cope with the challenges and stress of studying at university.
  • To be successful at university and beyond, you need to focus on exercising regularly, eating healthily, developing and maintaining healthy relationships, sleeping well (7-9 hours a night) and managing your stress and anxiety.

Video Content

Start this module by watching one (or more) of the following short videos to gain a broad understanding:

Health, Fitness and Happiness

Tony Horton

Eat for real change

Dr Joanna McMillan

How to make stress your friend

Dr Kelly McGonigal

Take a Quiz

Take a look at and complete one of more the FEELING GOOD modules available on thedesk

(Note: you will need to register first to login)

Develop & Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Exercise! Make sure you exercise for about 30 minutes every day.

  • If you’re involved in team sports, make sure you factor time for this into your weekly study plan. Or, join in on team sports offered by your university campus.
  • Exercise doesn’t have to cost you anything – there are a number of websites with free workouts for any fitness level. A great list can be found in this article

Eat real foods! Focus on replacing processed foods with wholefoods.

  • Eat more plant-based foods – eats lots of vegetables – e.g. eat carrot and celery sticks with cottage cheese or hummus if you get the munchies.
  • Eat more fruits e.g. swap that afternoon chocolate bar or packet of chips for a piece of fruit and some raw almonds or cashews.
  • Eat more wholegrains e.g. replace white bread with brown or multigrain bread, eat wholegrain crackers etc.
  • Eat lentils, chickpeas, beans etc.
  • Eat some meat and other foods but fill up on the above foods first as much as possible.
  • Drink less caffeine: it’s fine to start the day with a caffeine boost but replace any afternoon caffeinated drinks with water, decaffeinated alternatives, herbal tea or a juice.
  • Be patient – changing from poor eating habits to healthy eating won’t happen overnight. In fact, if you try to make too many changes all at once, you may give up. Adapting to a healthy diet can take time. Identify small steps you can take each day/week to continually improve your diet and health. Ask an understanding friend or family member to help you and be accountable to them.
  • Want to keep track of your diet and exercise? There are heaps of FREE apps you can access – such as myfitnesspal
  • Want some inspiration on what to eat/cook – here are some suggested websites:

Cut back on alcohol:

  • Studies show that university students are at risk of hazardous drinking, which can cause you harm or affect your academic results.
  • More than 4 standard drinks on one occasion doubles your risk of injury. Drinking a lot also puts you at risk of other problems, like getting into fights, sexual assault, and drink-driving charges.
  • Use the module on ‘Cutting Back on Drinking’ under the Feeling Good modules in thedesk.

Focus on your relationships with friends and family

  • Plan to spend time with family and friends during each week. For example, make a time to go out for coffee or go for a walk with friends and family members.
  • Find out what’s happening on campus and identify any events or groups you can join in to meet other students. If you’re a commencing student – make sure you go to Orientation Week activities on campus and find out what’s going on and meet other students – this is a proven way to get connected.

Manage your stress

  • Plan to take some time out each day to exercise and do something you like.
  • Develop good stress management habits by doing the Staying Calm modules on thedesk whenever you feel stressed or anxious.
  • Use the Tools on thedesk, such as the Relaxation Tool, regularly to help you relax and remain calm.
    • If its money that’s causing you stress, then the My Budget Tool may be what you need.
    • Also see this article on getting a balance between study and relaxation.

Other things to think about


  • You probably know that sleep is essential for learning as well as your general well-being. Adequate sleep is needed for attention, concentration, and memory. Recent research suggests that as adults we need 8.5 to 9 hours a night, though many people don’t get anywhere near this amount.
  • Take a look at the ‘Sleeping Better’ exercise under the Feeling Good modules on thedesk.
  • If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, try out a free podcast, google ‘sleep podcasts’.

Study/work/life balance:

  • We’ve all heard it before – maintaining a balance is important to get everything done without getting too stressed or overwhelmed. But how can a balance be achieved?
    • Research shows that a full-time student should ideally work no more than 8 hours a week.
    • Planning for balance and sticking to your plans as much as possible may help. Use one of the study/weekly planning tools available at your university or use the My168 Tools available on thedesk.

Websites to visit and videos to watch to find out more

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