We’ve had some really good advice on how to take care of yourself at university over the years. One of my favourite categories is self-care, as it’s super important not just for your physical health, but for your mental health too.
There’s a lot of stigma surrounding spending time for yourself at university, especially since you’ve probably been brought up with the pre-conceived notion that Uni will be the best 3 years of your life, due to all the socialising and making new friends and being independent.
And don’t get me wrong, Uni has been a fantastic experience for me. But when that initial excitement fades after freshers, you have to consider, ‘how do I actually take care of myself?’. Here are a few of the best suggestions we have for you!
‘Sometimes before you can let more in, you’ve got to let something out’ – Malene, 2nd Year Media Production
This is probably one of my top 3 mantras in life, because it really is true. University can be tough, it can catch up with you quickly, and that can lead to you feeling stressed, overwhelmed or anxious.
In this case, you need to take a day for yourself. Try having a bath, watching tv, listening to music, staying away from working or stressful activities until you feel you can continue. Any work done with a stress-ridden mind is not work that reflects your best attempt.
‘Set aside a good amount of time, maybe a night or so a week or a couple of hours before you go to bed, where you give yourself a proper break’ – Tash, 3rd year English
This really leads on from before. It’s all about allowing yourself some ‘wiggle room’. If you know you’ve got a busy week of deadlines or something like that, make sure you pencil in a few hours for doing absolutely nothing. It really can be therapeutic.
‘You need fuel for thought and skipping meals will not give you that fuel. Treat your body well and trust that it will treat you well in return.’ – Kathryn, 3rd Year Drama and English
I’d be a fool if I didn’t include a topic that has been a big challenge for me over the course of my student life. Eating right is so important. I went through a phase of having takeaways because it was convenient that I didn’t have to cook, instead of having them as a treat.
Not only did I waste a lot of money, but naturally I gained weight, I felt sick all the time because I wasn’t getting the right nutrients, my body and mind were not in the right space. But once I started eating better, I felt alert, happier and more energetic.
It set me up for success, and that’s the biggest bit of knowledge I would want a Fresher to know – it’s okay to have a cheat day but make sure you’re treating your body right.
‘People will understand that you’re busy sometimes and will totally get it if you want to go home for the weekend.’ – Becki, 2nd Year Communications and Public Relations
Socialising at uni can be exhausting, especially for people who aren’t ‘naturally’ outgoing. If you need a bit of time to return to what’s familiar, no one will judge you for that. Nine times out of ten, they’ll be going through the same thing and wish they could head back home for a while.
Homesickness is a real part of university for most people, and the best way to combat it is to keep in touch with family. Even if you don’t have the means to be travelling across the country, you can always give them a ring in the evening.
‘There’s no expectation to smash any goals or compete with other people – the pages are just gentle daily reminders to practice self-care in ways that you choose.’ – Holly, MA Arts Journalism
Bullet Journaling. It’s amazing. It’s so therapeutic. If you know you have a huge month ahead of you, you can section it all off, organise it and write it down. It really helps to get it onto black and white (or in this case, any colour you like) and see it in front of you so you know exactly what’s happening. There’s something about writing it down that helps you get that little bit of control over the chaos that student life might bring from time to time.
Finally, as a quick bit of advice from me, don’t just see ‘self-care’ as an easy way to destress and catch up. See it as therapy for your body, mind and soul. There is a lot of stigma surrounding whether self-care is effective, but I can tell you now, when I’m feeling like the world is caving in and I get all stressed and upset, the best thing I can do for myself is to shut my door, listen to music and light some scented candles. Sometimes, it’s really just that easy.
If you’re struggling at university and you need to seek support, we have an abundance of ways to do so.
Check out our student life app! It’s new and can help you get a balance on life, whilst offering support and tips on how to get through Uni! For Apple products, you can find it here. For Android, you can find it here.
Contact your tutor if you feel overwhelmed with work, I’m sure they can offer advice and tips on how to manage it all.
Don’t hesitate to drop into the Wellbeing centre or give them a call. They are there to help.