(realistic) Student Self-Care
Self-care is a term that has been thrown around a lot recently – especially with people finding it harder to separate their work / studies from downtime due to (surprise!) the pandemic. Although, I feel that a lot of aspects have been commercialised and glamourised – to the point where it becomes more about the ‘aesthetic’ rather than actually following the 1 (one) key step – caring for yourself. We see influencers and companies proposing that self-care is relaxing on holiday, getting spa treatments or buying expensive gifts. While these things can count as self-care, it’s important to remember that splashing out is not the only way we can make sure we look after ourselves.
In particular, as students it’s important to make sure we don’t burn out during the term (from experience, it’s not fun having multiple assignments due when all you want to do is sleep!) and self-care is the way to ensure this doesn’t happen. But we also don’t have all the time in the world (or the budget) to take week-long breaks during the term, bake a new 5-star dessert every day or read 484,833 self-help books. Self-care does not always have to be flashy or time-consuming and should cater to our needs instead of what society suggests we do. It should be practical and not make us feel worse off money or time-wise afterwards, otherwise we may not incorporate it to our routine. It can also be highly personal – we all have different hobbies and interests, so it makes sense that we have different ways to relax. For someone, looking after themselves could equate to making sure they get out of bed and eat a meal during the day, while for others it may mean spending a couple of hours outside with friends.
That said, I do have a couple of general tips for students who want to begin to learn how to take better care of themselves. These are separated by time taken to complete, so you can schedule them into a part of your daily / weekly / monthly routine (but these are only guidelines):
- Daily (5 minutes)
- Listen to your ‘Favourites’ song playlist
- Wash and moisturise your face
- Drink 400ml (roughly a water-bottle) of water
- Make yourself a mocktail/ cocktail or just a cup of tea
- Clean up your room
- Weekly (10 to 30 minutes)
- Get some exercise in (eg a walk, jog or run)
- Have a nap (personal favourite)
- Do a meditation
- Cook yourself a healthy meal
- Call a friend or family member to catch up
- Monthly (60 minutes)
- Watch an episode / episodes of your favourite TV show
- Go to a library or bookstore and read the next part of your favourite book
- Create and listen to a playlist of Comfort Songs
- Start a new hobby
- Start volunteering with a local organisation
By no means are these lists exhaustive – anything that helps you destress in a healthy way can be classed as ‘self-care’. The most important part is to make it a habit – practising a bit everyday can positively impact your life (as shown by this study in which medical students who began to practise self-care activities saw a decrease in stress and an increase in their overall quality of life). Setting aside a block of time during the day for these activities can help – or you can hold yourself accountable by telling your friends what you intend to do to prevent you from backing out.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure you take care of your body and mind – as these are more important than any degree 😊.