Students running
November 8, 2017
3 mins read

Sleep, eat, and exercise: Simple 10-minute ways to feel better now

Paper writing and exam season is upon us, which can make managing our time a challenge - unless you’ve got 10-minute tips like these.

I don’t know about you, but it’s around the times when I have the most going on that I feel time speeding up. Is it possible there are actually less hours in a day in November than there were in the summer? (Science students, get on this and let me know ASAP!)

During this busy time, it’s easier than ever to let important things fall by the wayside - it’s also more important than ever to avoid letting this happen.

You probably know instinctively (and research shows) that the three most important things you can do to be at your best are:

  • Get enough sleep 

  • Eat well 

  • Exercise regularly 

But doing all the stuff right (and figuring out how to do it right in the first place) can take a lot of time.

Thankfully, taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

You can take 10-minute baby steps. Even making small changes in the way you eat, sleep, and exercise can add up and can help you feel (even just a little bit) better. And hey, if these tips work for you, you can go from 10 to 15 to 20 minutes over time.

Sleep

It can be tough to fit sleep in right now, I hear ya. But, unless you’re one of those rare, magical people who seem to thrive on 4 hours of sleep, allowing your body enough time to recharge will make it easier to focus in class by improving your mental function and memory.

10-minute tricks:

Go to bed 10 minutes earlier each day. Simple. If you can keep it up, you’ll be on your way to recovering some important ZZZ’s!

Turn off your phone/laptop at least 10 minutes before bed. Better yet, don’t keep them in your room with you while you sleep. The light from our screens can keep you up and disturb your sleep schedule. Try reading a book before bed to keep those LEDs at bay.

Meditate for 10 minutes before bed. Clearing your mind and focusing on breath before you sleep can help you fall asleep faster. Try a meditation app (like Calm or Headspace), or these free meditation tools from UCLA to guide your meditations.

Eating food at CIRS

Food & Nutrition

Cooking your own food and eating healthy is one of those adulting tasks that seems the most daunting, but you don’t have to be Jamie Oliver.

10-minute tricks:

Avoid buying lunch on campus during peak hours. This can for sure save you 10 minutes every day - or more. Instead of buying lunch during your 12 pm break, go earlier in the morning or bring some healthy snacks (see below) that will sustain you until your 2 pm break, when the line-ups will be a lot shorter.

Pack your meals for tomorrow each evening. Try these quick make-ahead recipes. Making them at night will save you time in the morning, and keep you accountable the next day (because you won’t want your hard work to go to waste). Plus, foods you make yourself are usually much lower in sugar, fat, and salt than most packaged food.

Always carry healthy snacks. This tip can actually save you time because you won’t need to wait in UBC’s infamous food line-ups as often. Fruit, veggie sticks, and homemade trail mix (without the chocolate) are easy and healthy snacks that can live at the bottom of your bag. If you’re anything like me, you’ll finish these before 10 am but, eh, it’s better than nothing.

Students stretching

Exercise

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time sitting at a desk for more than a couple hours. Sitting still for long periods of time can really affect your health. But, regular movement can keep you alert and focused.

10-minute tricks:

Take active study breaks. Instead of scrolling through Facebook, try walking around campus (or around a park, or the block, depending on where you’re studying) for 10 minutes every hour or two. The fresh air will help you refocus, feel more creative, and alleviate any soreness from sitting in the same position for too long. You can even do some stretching and body weight workouts without leaving your desk. This video has some great tips for getting started:

Try a 7-minute workout app. There are a few of these out there. The one I use doesn’t require any gym equipment so you can do it in your living room with just a chair (a Yoga/exercise mat is useful, but not necessary). Here it is for Android and iOS.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Pretty self-explanatory. It’s often quicker too.


The hardest part is getting started, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself all at once. Have a healthy end of term, UBC!