Physical Wellbeing and Mental Wellbeing
Looking after your physical wellbeing is not only important for your physical health itself, or because good physical wellbeing will benefit your academic performance. Your physical wellbeing and your lifestyle will also have an impact on your mental wellbeing.
Studies among university students have shown that sleep quality, physical activity and substance use were strong predictors of mental wellbeing .
Other studies have demonstrated a causal relationship between good mental wellbeing and regularly consuming a healthy diet – in particular eating the recommended amount of fresh fruit and vegetables . By contrast, a systematic review conducted by O’Neil et al. (2014)  showed that an unhealthy diet (including high levels of saturated fat, refined carbohydrates and processed food) is linked to poorer mental health.
Research has also shown that physical activity can improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety and help prevent mental health problems ; ; . While higher intensity exercise has been shown to be particularly helpful, recent research has suggested that even low intensity activity, performed regularly, can be beneficial for your mental health . This means that just getting up from your desk to go for a walk or clean the house can help to raise your mood and protect against mental ill health.
Exercise can also help if you are experiencing problems with your mental health or have been diagnosed with a mental illness.
In addition to these more traditional ways of thinking about physical wellbeing, some recent research has also demonstrated that the way we engage with our physical environment can impact on our mental wellbeing. For instance, time spent in nature, focussing on our surroundings, has been shown to have beneficial effects on mood and mental wellbeing .
Taking all of this into account, it is clear that paying attention to your physical wellbeing can have multiple benefits for you as a PGR student. Taking time to attend to your physical health can boost your mood, protect against mental ill health, help you to maintain motivation and energy and ensure that you stay physically healthy . This will help you to work consistently and have good wellbeing throughout your degree.