The student’s guide to self-care

During my time as a student, I noticed something very troubling; a lot of student’s take pride in the fact that they don’t look after themselves. Not all students, of course, but I’m sure you’ve all met someone who gets a laugh out of drinking six cups of coffee a day or always looks exhausted because their work or something else is just more important.

Self-care is separated into two sections: looking after your physical health and looking after your mental health, and I’m here to share some tips with you on how to do those things, I assure you it’s not quite as complex or extravagant as some people may make out.

Put down the microwave noodles

No seriously, that’s not a dinner. Many people scoff at the idea of vegetables being something that can suddenly and drastically change your energy levels but they can. The reason why your body needs a varied diet is so that it can function to its maximum capacity. You wouldn’t expect to get from Edinburgh to Dover on a quarter tank of diesel, so don’t expect your body to get through the day effectively without variety to your diet.

Exercise isn’t a big deal

Studies show as little as ten minutes of walking per day can drastically improve your overall health, and doing so also gives you more energy. It is also a natural defence against long-term mental health conditions and also, stress! You don’t have to go to the gym or go for a run, you can just go for a wander up and down the road. Personally, for those struggling with stress, I recommend trying out yoga, this is because yoga is also a mindfulness exercise, which focuses on the existing present and not the future or past.

Have a start time and an end time to your day

If you sit down at seven in the morning and get up from your work at four in the evening, this section is for you. Work to a schedule, pick a time in your day not just to do your work but also to take meaningful breaks that allow you to exist away from your work. Then, finish at an appropriate time, there is only so much information your brain can handle and if you’re working well into the late hours all you’re giving yourself is more stress.

Your kitchen is not supposed to look like that

Clean up! It’s self-explanatory, but if your living space is a mess, your mental space is a mess too. What’s outside is reflected inside, and right now the inside of our flats is pretty much all any of us are seeing, taking care of your living space is very important.

Keep track of your mood

Journaling has been proven time and time again to help people with their mental health, and people use it for so many different things. You can journal your tasks so that they’re not all clogging up in your head, or just use it to talk about the best and worst parts of your day, there are no rules to doing it ‘right’.

Do something for you every day

A lot of self-care in marketing is bath bombs and face masks and all that is fine, but only if you want to do them. Self-care in that sense is utterly useless if those purchases are not for you. Do something for yourself, no matter how big or small, every single day, you owe that to yourself. So, maybe there’s a book you want to read, go and read it; maybe you just want a day to not look at your work, you can do that. Nothing is stopping you and there’s no law of the universe saying that you can’t dig into that fancy box of chocolates just because it’s not a special occasion.

Self-care for those who really need it

Sometimes, people can feel like the whole world is crashing down on them, and that’s okay. I know that during my time here my mental health has gone up and down a hundred times. Self-care isn’t just about what you can do for you but also knowing when you need other people too. Right now the whole world feels isolated from us, it’s a strange time to live in, but socially distanced does not mean socially isolated, talk to your flatmates, talk to your friends, host internet parties and play cards against humanity, have skype calls with your sister. Don’t let the isolation of a pandemic force you to become completely alone.

Helpful apps

Headspace: A meditation app, free access is limited but still helpful.

Down Dog: This company has a multitude of exercise apps that allow you to track what sort of workouts you want to do, and currently, if you sign up with your student email you get three months free!

Sweepy: Keep track of your cleaning tasks!

Intellect: A journaling app with free quick crash courses for guiding you through negative emotions.

Helpful links and phone numbers

Nightline: Ran by the university and accessed via the page, here you can chat to a volunteer about your mental health.

Liverpool Light: An evening crisis service in which you can attend if you feel your mental health is seriously affecting you.

Talk Liverpool: An NHS ran counselling service for if you feel you need extra guidance with your mental health.

Shout: Text ‘Shout’ to 85258 to receive text-based mental health support.

The Life Rooms: Support and guidance in uncertain times.

Merseycare Urgent Support: Call 0151 296 7200 for the 24/7 crisis support line.

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