5 ways to look after yourself these holidays

Feeling lonely, experiencing financial stress, and losing your routine can be bad for your health.

Written by Tim McGuire
Smiling girl in hat and sunglasses posing in Sydney Harbour

The summer holidays will look a little different in Australia this year. Travel restrictions and ongoing social distancing measures mean many of us need to adjust our expectations for the summer break. And if you’re an international student, your plans have probably been disrupted even more.

Separation from your family and friends back home may lead you to feeling isolated or lonely – especially at a time when we’re used to coming together. A break from study and work can also mean a break from regular contact with your peers, and can get your regular routine off the rails.

All these factors have the potential to take a toll on your wellbeing, so it’s important you know how to look after yourself. How you’re feeling emotionally has a big impact on how you’re feeling physically, too; feeling lonely can affect your heart health and brain function, and prevent you from sleeping well.

To help you keep on top of your health, we’ve put together some advice on how you can stay connected and keep busy over the break, and look after your wellbeing this summer.

First, look after yourself

Start with the basics: make sure you eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. It’s hard to feel positive if you’re always hungry, tired, or hungover. Cook your own meals, go to bed before midnight, and try one of our Live Better at Home exercises to work out for free. If you’re feeling homesick, a mindfulness meditation might help.

Look after others, too

Random acts of kindness go a long way during the festive season. Try connecting with people who don’t have family or friends around for the holidays. Send a card or small gift, bake festive treats or call someone who may be spending the season alone. If you live at a university residence or in a share house, try speaking to a neighbour or housemate about their holiday plans; you never know who may appreciate a little company. You could also try volunteering: it’s another great way to help the people around you, and may help reduce feelings of stress, loneliness and social isolation.

If you’re connected to the internet, social media can help you stay in touch with family and friends who live far away. Start a group chat to share your thoughts, photos and videos.

Find a routine

A regular routine can help you feel more at home, more in control, and less anxious. Try going to sleep and waking up at the same time, allocating certain days for exercise and rest, and setting time aside each week to explore new parts of your neighborhood with your friends. Schedule regular time to connect with your loved ones back home, either online or on the phone.

Find people with common interests

Making time for your hobbies and interests can lift your spirits and help you meet new friends. Meetup can connect you with people who share the same interests or pastimes as you, as well as other international students living in Australia. Parkrun is another free option for meeting new people, and getting some fresh air and exercise while you’re at it. Your college or university might also have a program of summer activities to get involved in, so make sure you ask.

Ask for help

Sometimes, no matter what you try, your homesickness or stress just won’t go away. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to ask the people around you at university or college for help; your university might have its own wellbeing support options. You can also speak to a doctor; use our Find a Provider tool to get started.

Students with Medibank’s Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) also have access to our 24/7 Student Health and Support Line, meaning you can call us any time of the day or night to get support for your wellbeing. Some of the things we can help you with include:

  • Medical assistance from a registered nurse
  • Counselling services
  • Emergency legal advice
  • Travel document assistance
  • Health system guidance
  • Family and friends message service
  • Support for living in Australia
  • Interpreter service

For Medibank OSHC call 1800 887 283.

For ahm OSHC call 1800 006 745.

24/7 Student Health and Support Line

Need support? Medibank Overseas Student Health Cover members can call 1800 887 283 anytime for health advice from a registered nurse, counselling services, emergency legal advice, travel document assistance, interpreter service and more.

ahm Overseas Student Health Cover members can call 1800 006 745.

Written by Tim McGuire

Tim McGuire is a reader, writer and editor living and working in Narrm/Melbourne.

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