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Strategies to improve student wellbeing

Wellbeing can be described as achieving a balance of physical, mental and financial health.

A recent study into how Singaporeans define a “better life”, or wellbeing, found that good health was the top long-term goal[@internationalservices-studentwellbeing-study].

The study also showed that wealth accumulation was one of the top long-term goals for Gen Z youth, but that they were finding inadequate financial knowledge to be a struggle. So even though your student years are ideally meant to be carefree and fun, you’re unlikely to be able to escape some levels of stress.

Here are some tips on how to manage stress and financial health for improved wellbeing.

Recognise what stress looks like

Student stress can be brought on by external factors, and it can come and go – much like that exam you're worrying about. We all respond to stress in different ways.

Signs of stress can be:

  • physical – chest pains, racing heart, insomnia
  • emotional – anxiety, depression, loneliness
  • cognitive – trouble concentrating, negative thoughts

If you recognise any of these signs in yourself, you may want to look at adjusting your priorities. Studies show that there's a strong link between students struggling with mental wellness and higher drop-out rates[@internationalservices-studentwellbeing-dropoutrates]. It may be worth talking to a professional if you think you're in need of help.

Pin down your stress triggers

We all have things that trigger stress in our lives, whether you're attending classes online or in person. Here are some of the common stressors for university students:

  • time (or rather, lack of it!)
  • academic pressure
  • personal health
  • uncertainty about the future
  • financial worries

Try to slow down and see if there’s anything you can change to improve your wellbeing. It might be difficult to eliminate financial worries, but the right sort of planning may help. Make a list of your priorities, re-evaluate them, and see where you may be able to save yourself some money.

Look after your financial wellbeing

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by your financial situation? You're not alone. A UK student report found that nearly 3 in every 4 students surveyed had considered dropping out of university – 41% of them said this was due to money worries[@internationalservices-studentwellbeing-moneyworries].

Looking after your financial wellbeing can help you feel secure and in control of other areas of your life. Without it, your mental health, physical health and relationships may be affected[@internationalservices-studentwellbeing-financialwellbeing].

Healthy habits lead to better financial and physical fitness and improved mental wellness.

Engage in mental wellness activities

Stress is sometimes unavoidable. But you can learn to respond to it, so that it doesn't affect your wellbeing too much. Start by practising good coping strategies that create healthy habits. These changes will have a positive effect on all facets of your wellbeing.

It can be helpful to:

  • take care of your body
  • quiet your mind
  • get back to nature
  • nurture your support network
  • volunteer your time
  • talk to a professional

You’ll find that small changes such as getting in some physical activity and eating well can greatly boost your mood. And getting enough sleep will help you with much more than feeling rested. Sleep allows your body the time it needs to repair cells and convert your short-term memories into long-term ones. So hit the pillow after hitting the books for better recall!

Find ways to relieve stress

There's loads you can do in Singapore that won't cost a fortune. Here are some options:

Running and hiking

You can go for a run anywhere, anytime – even though it may be hot and humid outside. Join a running or hiking club if you want something structured to help motivate you.

Health Promotion Board

This government organisation promotes healthy living that’s affordable and accessible to everyone. You’ll find free gym classes and workshops happening all over the city.

Online communities

Look on social media for groups of people who have similar interests, from exercise to hobbies.

Gym membership

There are plenty of gym options to choose from all over Singapore. Think about what suits you best in terms of location, facilities, and cost.

How to improve your financial wellbeing

Good debt or bad debt? Your brain can’t tell the difference. It all takes a toll. According to a recent study on the psychology of debt, owing money can build up stress, anxiety and frustration even if you have a plan in place to pay it back[@internationalservices-studentwellbeing-debtpsy].

Look into what kind of bank account suits your needs as a student and how you can use any credit cards you have wisely. You can also:

  • build your financial immune system by establishing good credit
  • create a budget and stick to it by tracking your expenses and take advantage of student discounts
  • re-evaluate your priorities by cancelling subscriptions you don’t need, or move to a cheaper apartment if you can
  • educate yourself by learning the basics of banking: spending, borrowing, saving and investing
  • talk to a financial adviser to identify your financial strengths and areas that may need further attention

Whatever your circumstances, think about the best way to manage your finances.

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