A healthy body, mind & space

From the food you eat to the ways you manage stress, here are some tips that can contribute to a healthier and happier you.

Access support when you need it

There are many different types of support offered at La Trobe College Australia. Learn more about them so you can get help whenever you need it.

For physical health

Keeping your body healthy means staying active

As a student, it’s inevitable that you’ll spend large parts of your day sitting down – either in lectures or at a computer doing assignments – and that can have a negative impact on how your body feels.

Taking the time to move your body outside of your study time can have great benefits to both your physical and mental health. And a great way to get moving is to get involved with sports at La Trobe University. There are many different ways to enhance your university experience with sports or active recreational activities.

  • The La Trobe Sports Centre offers many student membership options, facilities and services. Student Union members receive a further 5% discount on Sports Centre prices.
  • There are 26 different affiliated sports clubs you can join! View them here.
  • If you’re serious about sports, you can get involved with the League social sport competitions hosted at the La Trobe Stadium, or represent La Trobe University at an intervarsity sporting competition or the University Nationals.
  • La Trobe also runs an Elite Athlete Program to give elite athlete students assistance and support in combining their academic and sporting pursuits.
  • Get your running shoes on and join the running group! The group runs the Darebin Creek trail every Monday night (6.00pm) and Wednesday morning (6.30am).
  • For more fun and casual sporting events, you can participate in Team La Trobe community events which run throughout the year.
  • For those living on campus in residential colleges, La Trobe Sport and College Sports Representatives coordinate an extensive inter-college sports program for some friendly competition.
  • The La Trobe Sports Centre offers many learn to swim and water safety programs for students.

For a healthy mind

Because life can get stressful sometimes

As a student, you may have many competing demands in your day-to-day. You’ll be balancing study, work, financial, family and social commitments, all while adjusting to a new environment. Learning how to manage stress and anxiety are important life skills that will be valuable long after university. 

Practicing mindfulness is a great plate to start. Mindfulness is about being fully in the present moment, and developing the skills to change habits of inattention or distraction. It is not only useful for stress management, but great for your study habits too. 

Mindfulness in practice

It’s important to note that, although mindfulness has great benefits for many conditions that are well researched, there are some mental health conditions that could be unsuitable to practice mindfulness alone. It is important that you seek professional advice, such as Counselling Services for further support and advice.

Mindfulness can be practiced during many of the basic tasks we do each day, like brushing our teeth, making lunch, or exercising. These are some of the skills required for mindfulness practice:

  • Observation. Observe the environment, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and sensations you are experiencing without reacting to them or judging them. As your thoughts come and go, let them. As you gain control of your attention (and not the thoughts that pop up), cling to nothing and push nothing away.
  • Describing. Stay with the raw description of your sensations, emotions, and thoughts. There is no right or wrong, simply what is.
  • Participation. Practice letting go of worrying thoughts, or thoughts of perfection. There is no mastery of mindfulness, but in practicing for 30 seconds, a minute or more at a time, you will continue to improve your skills.
  • Non-judgement. Stay with what is there, not the 'should' or 'musts', the 'good' or the 'right'. Take your thoughts, emotions, and sensations for what they are. Accept them as they come. The habit of judging is hard to break. Try not to be hard on yourself. It will take time to look at your thoughts, emotions, and images differently.
  • Singular focus. Focus on one activity and keep on track with this only. By focusing only on your breathing, you use it as an anchor; when your mind wanders, you can let go of distractions by returning to your breathing.

Mindfulness meditation

Meditation is another very effective way to practice mindfulness. Here are some tips to start meditating:

  • Find a comfy, quiet spot to practice.
  • Set an amount of time to practice each day. Start small at the beginning; 5 or 10 minutes only.
  • Use the resources below to follow along for a helpful guide.

Mindfulness resources

Now that you know what mindfulness is about, have a go at using some of these resources to get you started!

  • Calm App
  • Insight Timer App
  • Headspace Meditation App
  • Simple Habit App
  • Smiling Mind App

La Trobe Counsellor Cassandra Scicluna has also created a mindful meditation video based at our Melbourne (Bundoora) campus focusing on the calming Nangak Tamboree river. Take a listen.

For more physical and mental wellbeing resources, visit the University website.

For healthy eating

A good diet is fundamental to your health and wellbeing

With the average college student often pressed for time, you may find yourself eating on the go, or developing bad habits like skipping meals or visiting fast food restaurants. However, a bad diet can affect more than your physical health. Eating well can have a positive impact on your mental health as well as your physical wellbeing, allowing you to manage stress and improve performance in your studies. It helps you maintain a healthy weight, improve immunity, reduce the risk of disease, and keep energy levels up all day.

As a general rule, everything is ok ‘in moderation’. Plan meals and snacks around colourful vegetables, fruits and wholegrains. Add protein and iron rich foods like lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Focus on heart healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds and olive oil. 

Healthy eating guidelines

  • Eat breakfast! Studies have shown that skipping breakfast can actually negatively impact your studies. If you don’t have time for a sit-down meal, make sure you grab a piece of fruit or some toast to get you going in the morning. 
  • Choose fast foods wisely. It’s hard to resist the call of fast food sometimes, so when you do decide to eat it, try to limit yourself to lower fat offerings - ie. pizza with half the cheese or a salad with reduced calorie dressing. 
  • Keep healthy snacks on hand. This is the best way to fight temptation when hunger strikes, and will mean you are less likely to turn to a vending machine or UberEats for something less than ideal. Healthy snacks include fresh or dried fruit, nuts, rice cakes or whole wheat crackers. If you have a refrigerator, consider raw vegetables with low-fat yogurt, hummus or cottage cheese.
  • Avoid crash diets. If you need to lose weight, do it sensibly. Starvation and/or diets that offer a quick fix can be harmful to your health and even damage your metabolism. The only safe way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat a balanced diet and exercise frequently.
  • Limit your sugar intake. Sugar provides calories in your diet but few other nutrients, so use it sparingly. It can also contribute significantly to tooth decay. You may wish to consider using natural sweeteners to put in your coffee or tea instead.
  • Limit your alcohol intake. If you drink alcohol, keep in mind that it supplies calories but no nutritional value. A light beer, a glass of wine or an ounce of liquor each has about 100 calories. There are also many health problems associated with drinking alcohol.
  • Drink lots of water. Your body needs at least eight glasses a day, and even more if you are exercising. To remind yourself, carry a water bottle along to class and keep it handy during late night study sessions.

Creating a healthy space

A good study environment can make a world of difference

To succeed in your studies, it’s important to think carefully about your study space.

  • Is it a comfortable, quiet environment where you can concentrate?
  • Is it set up so that you can sit happily for long periods of time?
  • Does it have sources of natural light and enough airflow to be a comfortable temperature and provide you with fresh air?

A few small changes to your environment can support your happiness and wellbeing. This includes your living space. A health living space is one that is:

  • Free from clutter and mess
  • Well lit, with fresh air and natural light
  • Cleaned regularly to eliminate germs and household toxins
  • Decorated with things that bring you joy – whether it’s a family photo, artwork, or brightly coloured pillows and blankets

Plants and fresh flowers can bring a lot of life into a space. Some varieties can even help keep the air cleaner!