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MSc Public Health

lauren-bishopStudying can be stressful, particularly when we have exams looming or multiple deadlines piling up.  It’s important to look after yourself throughout these times to keep the negative effects of stress at bay.  That means making time for yourself no matter how much work you have to do; if you burn out you won’t be able to get the work done anyway, so best to invest some time into your wellbeing to prevent this from happening!

Fortunately, maintaining and improving our wellbeing isn’t exactly rocket science, especially since the New Economics Foundation developed the Five Ways to Wellbeing to break it down into five simple areas.  Here I’ll run through the Five Ways, what they mean and give some examples of my own favourite ways to take care of myself.

First is Connect.  This is about being connected with the people around you.  So, simply making time to spend with people we care about is a great way to keep ourselves feeling good.  Personally, I like to schedule in lots of coffee dates with good friends to keep myself grounded and connected.  Joining a BU club or society is also a great way to get connected with people who share your hobbies and interests.

Hot-chocolateFor me, a coffee date with a friend is one of life’s true pleasures, and one of the best ways to keep stress at bay!

The second of the Five Ways is Keep Learning.  This is pretty self-explanatory, and fortunately for us postgrad students we’re already doing this anyway!  It can be good to learn something outside of our formal studies to keep our brains active though, so personally I’m learning a spot of Italian using Duolingo over the summer.  I’ll also be sure to make use of Languages@BU for opportunities that will support my learning!

Thirdly is Keep Active.  The positive effects of physical activity on mood are well documented, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that this made it into the Five Ways.  Being active isn’t all about doing structured exercise; going for a walk, housework, gardening and DIY all count too.  When endless hours are spent sat at a desk studying, it’s important to make sure you keep moving.  Personally, my favourite activity is cycling – which has the added benefits of sunshine and connecting with nature – lovely!  But my activities can also be as simple as running up and down the stairs a few times while having a break from staring at the computer screen.  You can find out about sporting activities available at BU here.


Getting out on my bike is a great way to keep active and take notice of my beautiful surroundings.

Fourth is Take Notice.  When we’re stressed it can be so easy to get bogged down in endless to do lists and pressure to get things done.  The Five Ways to Wellbeing encourages us to take the time to notice what’s going on around us, as well as inside our minds and bodies.  Being aware of our emotions can help us to recognise when we need to set some time aside for ourselves to keep healthy.  Personally, I practise mindfulness meditation, which really helps me to connect with myself, as well as taking notice of my surroundings more in everyday life.

Last but by no means least is Give.  Doing something for someone else is a really powerful way to boost our mood and self-esteem.  So, by helping others you help yourself too!  This could be anything from cooking dinner for a friend to volunteering for a charity.  Admittedly I probably don’t put as much time into giving as I’d like, although I’m trying to get involved with volunteering to get more women into cycling.  You can find out about lots of ways to contribute to charities at BU on the Raising and Giving page.

So, there we have it. Five simple steps to beating stress and maintaining our wellbeing.  Try them for yourself and see how a small change can have big benefits!

By Lauren Bishop