This isn’t just an Instagram aesthetic. It’s actually really good advice for us. If you’re unfamiliar with self-care, it is the simple act of caring for ourselves. We deserve it, not because it makes us better for others or for our lecturers or for our flatmates, but because it makes us healthier for ourselves.
I am bang into this principle and really do notice an impact in my life when I don’t take time out for me. One thing I am not bang into though, is rubbish self-care tips. Things like ‘talk a brisk walk’ doesn’t strike well when it is 2 am and you’re two hours deep on a war against your own self esteem.
I’ll list a couple of my own tried and tested self-care tips and hope that they are applicable to you.
- Do whatever you’re worried about. Do it now.
Seriously, if you’re anxious about a deadline you have in months’ time, start it. It’ll only help you. Jot down basic ideas and have a shell of what you will write/design/present. It’ll lift a lot of weight off your shoulders and help you focus on other pressing things.
Drink all the water you’re meant to. Your Mam told you to, because you should. Headaches are avoided easily and you feel less groggy.
- Sleep properly.
I had a tip in my first year. I emailed a lecturer about a deadline at 3:51 am. They got back to me, but instead of writing an answer they sent me a scathing email about how I couldn’t possibly write a coherent sentence at 3 in the morning. And you know what, they were right. I was making myself busier than I should’ve been to make myself feel more productive. Nothing is so pressing that it can’t wait until a sensible, and healthy, time the next day.
- Do something nice for someone else
This is an odd one, because it can be seen as a little selfish, but I promise if you get in the habit of it, it will pay off. It could be passing on your bus day ticket to someone who needs it, washing your flatmates dishes every now and then, making a meal for someone or dropping your family back home a text to tell them you love them. Honestly, this one is easy to do and although it is designed to make you feel good by helping someone, you’ll see how it trains you to look for ways to help someone else. It’s good for the soul.
- Go to the opticians.
I cannot survive a lecture without my glasses, I don’t know how I previously coped with eye strain induced headaches. It’ll give you peace of mind and often you can get decent deals with Vision Express.
- Stop comparing everything.
Don’t compare yourself to anyone. You may have been top of your class in a tiny pond but now you’ve been thrown into the sea where every fish is just as big as you. That doesn’t make you any less though. Don’t compare your work rate, your skills at reading, your presentation skills or your contribution in seminars. Why judge yourself that much? You’re already being picked apart by lecturers, don’t do it to yourself. Keep in mind that you are you, you are enough and you’re doing the best you can.
- Say no.
You don’t have to join every society or team, you don’t have to be a course rep, you don’t have to go out every night and you don’t have to attend every optional event your uni puts on. Say no, you can still be kind and exciting and have a great time and studious by saying no.
- Have you moved today?
If the answer to that, like mine some days, is barely we both need to check ourselves. Moving stimulates us and if we go out, just nipping into Morrison’s or going for a 5K, anything is great! Look while you’re out, if you’re in a city just exist outside for a while. Even just being in my home city is exciting and bracing. It’ll make you feel something, or it will make you feel like you’ve accomplished something for the day, and either is great.
- Recharge yourself.
If you’re introverted like me, recharge by being alone, whether sitting around inside alone or walking alone or baking alone, just be you with just you for company and it’ll ground you for a while. Being in a student flat isn’t very solitary, but figure out your way of being alone. An early morning run might be it, or longer shower, or spending more time in the uni library with your headphones in. Just figure out what works best for you.
If you’re extroverted do what you do best and speak. Speak to everyone, join a society that meets frequently, go out with your friends, Skype with family back home and just get out your energy somewhere.
- Reward yourself.
Uni is hard and is only going to get harder with rising tuition putting financial strain on all of us. We need to remember that if we’re trying our best, we’re doing okay. Reward yourself (I like cake the best), get a treat and binge a Netflix series.
These self-care tips are basic but when they become a habit they’re so good to have in the bank for when uni throws a curveball. Let them become habits.
If you have any other tips leave them in the comments or email them into firstname.lastname@example.org so we can whip out an extensive self-care list in exam season.