By: Samuel Olowolayemo
Lifestyle is considered a critical determinant of health. The food you eat, your attitude towards hygiene, exercise and rest, the state of your mind from various exposures, all sum up to affect your wellbeing. Aside from lifestyle, a change of and changes in our environments significantly influence our state of health, defining risk and exposure.
In either sense, your role in health cannot be overemphasized especially as regards adaptation to a constantly changing environment. Herein lies the nexus between lifestyle and environmental peculiarities. Changes in our environment, like the weather and seasons, vectors and pest invasion, stress and hygiene level, call for modifications of lifestyles that prioritize health.
As University of Ibadan students, there is no gainsaying that the demands of academic, religious, social and political engagements get heightened in second semesters. It is usually marked by faculty and departmental weeks, dinner parties, political activities ahead of the next session, among many others. For many, these could result in increased stress levels and if not properly managed, could cause decline in physical and mental wellness that could translate to devastating academic performances.
Combating stress requires deliberate effort, especially in getting adequate sleep. Sleep deprivation is popular among students who up till a few days before exams fail to read their course materials. This leads to reliance on caffeine and abuse of energy drinks to stay active, causing anxiety, insomnia (lack of sleep), gastrointestinal upsets, nervousness, accelerated heart rates and hypertension. Effectiveness and coordination of thoughts, ability to make rational and firm decisions require proper rest and sleep for rejuvenation of your body cells and functions.
Nourishing your body with a diet that helps to combat oxidative stress like fruits, clean water, in addition to balanced meals as opposed to snacks and junk, is a major way to reinforce your immune system against stress and infections. Most importantly, the onus lies on your ability to plan effectively and prioritize commitments, evade distractions and to balance extracurriculars with academics.
The dry season in Nigeria spans from around October to March with harmattan in-between, from December to January. This period is characterized by dry, less humid air and is known to be associated with certain diseases and reactions. In dry air, the majority of people become prone to certain illnesses. The dry air and dust can cause eye irritation and discomfort, exacerbate respiratory problems, leading to issues like cough, sneezes, and aggravated asthma or allergies. In adverse weather, wear sunglasses or protective eyewear to shield your eyes from dust and irritants, apply skin moisturizers to prevent dryness and irritation, wear nose masks or scarves to cover your nose and mouth when exposed to dusty or polluted environments.
If you ever wondered why you thirst and sweat more often, it is a known fact that dry weather contributes greatly to dehydration. Severe dehydration can result in fatigue, dizziness, and dry skin. Inadequate fluid intake may impair one’s cognitive function, cause kidney issues, constipation, and increase the risk of heat-related illnesses. Adaptive measures include staying hydrated, especially in hot and dry conditions, to mitigate such health risks.
Upon resumption, there have been complaints about mosquitoes in hostels, reading rooms, and lecture theatres. This development is not surprising as studies reveal that associated with dry seasons is an increase in certain vector-borne diseases, as stagnant water becomes scarce, concentrating breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes. To prevent brooding, halls, through their health ministers and cleaning staff, should ensure that there is no stagnant water around their hall of residence. The adaptive measures you can inculcate include sleeping under mosquito nets, using mosquito-repellent creams which help prevent bites and using insecticides when necessary.
Bedbugs have persisted in our hostels, libraries, lecture and reading rooms and although they portend no illness to man, their bites and marks cause psychological trauma, pain and sleep deprivation to students. In various halls of residence, students have tried various chemicals in fumigating their rooms against bedbugs, but all to no avail. This calls for holistic measure by the school authority in finding lasting solutions in combating these blood-sucking obligates.
Health is crucial to attain any of our endeavors and aspirations, and in most instances, we are the biggest stakeholder of our wellbeing. Whether or not we choose to take alcohol, smoke, exercise our bodies, eat good food and fruits, get adequate rest and sleep, rehydrate, go for frequent check-ups, etc, all reflect on our physical and mental wellness.