Having just finished three years of university, and with another five years of it in front of me, I know how stressful studying can be. During this time, I’ve learnt how important it is to practise self-care. University is a marathon, not a sprint, and you need to look after yourself, so you don’t burn out. There’s a common phrase ‘treat others how you wish to be treated’, but you should also flip this around and treat yourself with the kindness that you give to others, and that’s what self-care is all about.
Most people have some acts of self-care already in their daily routines, but maybe they’re not covering all six types.
Physical. This is probably the easiest form of self-care. Working out regularly is important not only for your physical health but also for your mental health.
This doesn’t have to mean going to the gym five times a week lifting 80kg, it can mean going for a walk once a day or doing a home workout in your room (there are tons on the internet for free so you don’t even need to pay for a plan).
Emotional. I would say this is the most well-known form of self-care. An easy to practise this is by keeping a journal. It doesn’t have to be like in American movies where they write in it every day without fail, and you definitely don’t need to start it with ‘Dear Diary’ (although both of these things are fine if you do them!). I will only write in my journal when I have something to actually write.
One week I might write a small paragraph every day, the next I might not write anything for six days and then on Sunday write four pages. Do what works for you.
Mental. It’s important to stimulate yourself mentally, but if you’re studying all day, maybe the last thing you want to do is come home and ‘learn’ something else. Mental self-care doesn’t have to be that serious, it could be watching a documentary on a topic that you find interesting (personally I love true crime documentaries). If you feel like you can handle more, you could try learning a new skill such as playing an instrument or speaking a new language.
Practical. A great way to practise practical self-care is by organising or cleaning something. Cleaning is incredibly therapeutic and living in a healthy and clean space is really good for your mental health. You could deep clean the bathroom or reorganise your wardrobe, even small acts help lots!
Social. Being with friends and people you love can really boost your mood. Going out for dinner or just having friends over to chill helps fulfil your social self-care.
Even if you’re more introverted and you don’t fancy physically meeting someone, you can still call or FaceTime an old friend or family member.
Spiritual. You don’t have to be religious for spiritual self-care, it’s about looking after your soul. If you are religious then you could visit your nearest place of worship, and if you’re not you can do this by spending some time in nature. Visit a park, turn off your phone, and just focus on yourself for a bit.
Some other acts of self-care:
- Baking or cooking a comfort meal. No one is saying you have to be Gordon Ramsey; you can simply pick up a premade brownie mix from your local supermarket if you’re not gifted in the kitchen. However, putting the time into preparing a meal that you love for yourself can be very rewarding, and it can be something to look forward to at the end of the day.
- Me time. It took me a while to learn that you’re allowed to say no to plans if you don’t want to go. Your time is precious, so if you really don’t want to go somewhere, and instead you’d prefer some alone time maybe watching some Netflix or listening to some music, then don’t go.
- Meditating. I am still learning how to meditate properly, I find it so hard to clear my mind as there are always things popping into it! But there are lots of guided meditation podcasts or even videos on YouTube that you can try out.
Remember: Self-care is NOT selfish; it is something we should all be doing!
For more tips and advice on studying and self-care, feel free to check out my blog https://theeverydaystudent.co.uk/ or follow me on Instagram: @the_everyday_student.