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Your guide to a safe and healthy summer break

Class is over for the year but that doesn’t mean any healthy habits you’ve had during semester should go out the window. In fact, it’s the perfect time to set even better ones that will take you into the New Year.

After you’ve sat your final exam for the year, your schedule becomes completely different. Suddenly there are no more lectures, classes or study to think about. This also means you may be less likely to keep up any healthy habits you managed to maintain during the semester, says habit change expert Dr Gina Cleo. Eating well, staying active and getting quality sleep aren’t so easy to maintain when your normal schedule changes.

“What triggers a habit is generally the time of day, the place you’re in, the preceding actions or an emotion,” she says. “When people are in a certain routine, those habits are triggered. And once you take away those triggers, the habits will fall away as well.”

Making sure you stay healthy without the structure of the student calendar is all about making better choices, Dr Cleo says.

“We have to be a bit more intentional with our time when we’re out of routine,” she explains. “It’s important to try to stick to similar times, or be conscious to establish new ones. You might say ‘I want to exercise at 7am and be in bed at 10pm’, and you would create those routines.”

Bear in mind that it takes an average of 66 days for a habit to develop, Dr Cleo says.

“It’s about just knowing you have to put some conscious thought into a habit at the beginning while you are creating it — then it’ll become automatic, just like tying your shoelace or driving a car,” she says.

Creating good habits

Here are a few ideas for healthy habits you could choose to focus on over the break.

  • Screen-free time. Now the cramming is done, take a break from your devices to reconnect with friends and family in person. Aim for a digital detox a few hours a day or turn your screens off after a certain time in the evening.
  • Daily meditation. The holidays are a great time to try out a new habit without any pressure. Start small and build up by finding a quiet spot, closing your eyes and focusing on your breath for a few minutes at a time.
  • Get your 30 minutes a day. If your exercise routine suffered during exams, now is the time to recalibrate. Take a walk, swim laps at your local pool or try something you’ve always wanted to have a go at, like kick boxing, acro yoga or HIIT.
Staying safe over summer

Here are some habits that will pay dividends over the summer break, starting with protecting your skin.

Here are some habits that will pay dividends over the summer break, starting with protecting your skin.

  • Be sun-smart. You know the drill, when you’re outside and the UV rating is 3 or above (check the Bureau of Meteorology’s website or download the SunSmart app), you must protect your skin. That means wearing a wide-brimmed hat, well-covering clothing, sunglasses and a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF30+ (which should be reapplied every two hours, or after swimming or excessive sweating).
  • Be beach aware. Spending time at the beach is a great Australian pastime, but it requires smart choices. Always swim between the red-and-yellow flags, and don’t swim alone. It’s a good idea to visit or download the Beachsafe app in advance to learn how to recognise rips.
  • Use local transport wisely. If you’re catching a bus, train or tram late by yourself at night, wait in well-lit areas near transport or security staff. Avoid closed-in waiting areas, and download a timetable or app so you don’t have to wait for long. Once on board, sit near the driver or other people. If you’re cycling, you must wear a helmet, and at night, also wear bright-coloured clothing and use a bike light.
  • Trip safety. Planning to travel? Make sure you tell people (like your friends, family or housemates) about your plans — including when you expect to return. If you’re going on a road trip, don’t drink and drive — and don’t get in the car with someone who has been drinking or taking illegal drugs.
General Advice Warning: This advice is general and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the advice is appropriate for you and your personal circumstances. Before you make any decision about whether to acquire a certain product, you should obtain and read the relevant product disclosure statement.

All information above has been provided by the author.


This article originally appeared on and has been published here with permission.

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