University life can be a very difficult time of adaptation. The combination of independent living, social pressures and looming assessments can cause great stress and lead to some pretty bad habits. Trust us, a few small measures to your routine can make a glowing difference to your well-being and University performance. Here are some valuable tips for self care we’ve picked up along the way as to how you take care of yourself during your time at University.
1. Rest Your Mind
University is a hotbed for poor sleeping patterns – with late nights out a week supplemented by alcohol infused snoozing. The effects of a poor night’s sleep have long been considered bad for your mood but the long-term effects of bad sleep could be more damaging. Research led by Daniel Freeman, professor of clinical psychology at Oxford University recruited more than 3,700 university students who had reported problems sleeping – of which half received CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) aimed at improving their sleep.
According to the BBC, ‘…ten weeks into the study, the students who received CBT reported a halving in rates of insomnia, accompanied by significant improvements in scores for depression and anxiety, plus big reductions in paranoia and hallucinations.’ Maintaining healthy sleeping habits is crucial for our mental health – so if your struggling with sleep and/or mental health – consulting your GP or a University support group could make a world of difference. Resting your mind is one of the most important tips for self care!
2. Eating Well
Students spend an average of just £24.32 on food a week, according to a recent survey. Unless you are lucky enough to have your loan supplemented by Daddy dearest, that limited weekly spend can lead to bad habits. Habits like microwaved Chicken Tika Masala 3 times a week and forgetting to take your gout medication. Eating well is one of the vital tips for self care!
There are hundreds of self-help articles to support your meal plans on a limited budget when at University. Make the most of these articles and build healthy habits when it comes to your weekly shop. This advice can support a healthy body, mind and wallet if you bother to put in the effort.
3. Mindfulness Meditation
The modern UK University experience and the culture of drinking, performance assessment and social instability can lead to a anxiety, depression and suicide. This is reflected in recent research where suicide rates among UK students exceed that among young people in the general population.Developing awareness of our own state of minds can be difficult, let alone overcoming the obstacles individuals perceive in addressing them. Even if you think you’ll hate meditation, you should try it at least once! The peacefulness it brings is why it is one of the most recommended tips for self care!
There are a number of apps designed to reduce anxiety, depression, improve sleep and reduce the everyday tensions poor mental health can produce.Take a look at ‘Headspace : Guided Meditation’ or ‘Calm’ for a number of guided meditations for improving mental health, concentration, better sleep and many more health improvements. Alongside self-help implementation, remember Universities are taking greater steps to introduce accessible mental health services. There is a welcome and constant push to reduce ANY stigma in addressing one’s own mental health issues – if you feel you need support or advice – check out the services available at your institution.
Student lifestyles tend to fall short of the recommended guidelines for exercise, diet and sleep. Picture yourself shoveling compressed miscellaneous meats into your dribbling face at 04:00 am and then waking up at 1300 the next day to finish the job.
Find some balance. Universities offer cheap rates for gym membership, but if that isn’t your thing, try getting out and running for just 20-30 minutes three times a week. Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety and relieve stress, improve memory, sleep and overall moods. This is one of the most common tips for self care!
5. Protect Yourself
Unprotected sex is widespread among students. That’s why safe sex is a big issue for many universities and students. You can bet someone will offer you free condoms in Fresher’s Week and to avoid joining the 1 in 10 young people in the UK estimated to being carriers of chlamydia, rubber your chubber lads.
6. Make Your Bed
As you spend more time apart, your probably starting realise your mum was right about a few things. But your momma ain’t here now boy. Small adjustments to personal routine can accumatively make a difference to your whole self-perception and mindset. Starting the day with making your bed means you start everyday completing a task and have a nice environment to come home to.
7. Watch Your Alcohol Consumption
Drinking and university education are as synonymous as Cheech & Chong, Cheese & Chips and 0900am lectures and missed attendance. Alcohol abuse has damaging affects across the board; from it’s calorfic content to carcinogenic toxins, to the following day hangover indulgence.
8. Everybody Loves the Sunshine
The student lifestyle can result in late nights and sleeping in. Couple this with all day FIFA sessions, poor British weather and hours sat at a computer – the sun can become a distant memory. Open your curtains and windows to enjoy the health benefits of regular sun exposure. Sunlight helps to regulate your sleep cycle, increase vitamin D intake and improve your mood.
9. Manage Your Workload Effectively
It’s all to easy to let your workload get the better of you. Ensuring all the time you dedicate to study (however long that is) is most valuable is through setting yourself goals. 2,500 words in a week seems like an insurmountable task…one best avoided until the consequences of addressing the problem seem too real to avoid.
Try setting yourself smaller targets of 300-400 words a day. These are loose goals and each assignment requires individual consideration…but the key is to actually consider it. Once you get started…. it’s rarely as difficult as you thought. This is one of the most important tips for self care, especially to reduce stress!
10. Declutter and Respect Your Home
It’s not easy adjusting to an independent adult lifestyle and can lead to some pretty magnificent levels of neglect. From piles of dirty dishes to moldy bedroom leftovers, none of that makes you feel good about yourself. Clutter can stress you out…so take the time to clean your room, your flat/house and organize a cleaning rota with your housemates. It might be the only way to get things done.
There is a growing body of thought that suggests social media has a detrimental effect on our mental health. Many social media platforms enable an imbalanced social comparison, through the aesthetically ‘perfect’ highlight reel individuals portray of themselves.
Loving yourself is a term that’s easy to say, hard to fully implicate in a healthy way and not easy to teach. But a great starting point is to take time away from social media, social comparison and focusing on yourself. Your own sense of self-worth is best found within rather than through the inadvertent effects of swiping, liking and social media shallowness. But feel free to share this article.
12. Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help
Feeling like you cannot accept your own problems, anxieties and pains compounds the issue. The inability to seek support amplifies it even further. Never feel like the issues you face are always best faced alone. Do not feel embarrassed or ashamed of your own conditions, thoughts and feelings.
The number of support services for all number of issues found within University life are tremendous. Whether it’s something small like learning how to use the library or something much larger: this self-help article is unlikely to be as effective as a professional and/or personal conversation. Find the right network and don’t be afraid of yourself.