Self-care is the practice of consciously doing things that preserve or improve your mental or physical health. Self-care is an important part of living a healthy and happy lifestyle.
There’s no right or wrong way of caring for yourself, as long as it makes you feel good. Now you don’t have to set aside a whole day for self-care. There are 5-10 minute ‘quick fixes’ which can help you pause and reset for the day or task.
You’ve got many different scales to keep balanced which include work, relationships and money, which can feel overwhelming. Even though self-care may not rid yourself of these aspects of your life, it does allow you to take control of your mind and self once again.
Eight Dimensions of Wellness
According to William & Mary University, there are eight dimensions of wellness. These are emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual. Illustrating the complexities of life and the number of balls to juggle, you can understand why we all get so tense during our university years.
To help you find and understand new ways to care for yourself, we’ve created a rundown of tips and tricks within each dimension to help you tackle any angst and find a method that will work for you and your specific situation in that moment of need.
This area relates to how you are feeling. It’s about being in tune with your emotions. Not making yourself feel bad for feeling a certain way and taking the time to acknowledge, understand and respond in a healthy manner. Our complex library of emotions is what makes us human. That’s why it’s important to spend some time caring about them.
One great method is to keep a feelings journal. Simply write down how you’re feeling each day or when you feel a strong emotion. Write why you think you might be feeling that way (emotional triggers) and scribe any thoughts on how you can manage it. It’s a great idea to help you look back and understand yourself; but also, to see how you dealt with an emotion so you can refer back or switch up your approach if it was to happen again.
Another great tip for when you’re feeling emotionally burnt out is to take a moment for yourself. For example, I’m sure many of us end up sleeping after we’ve cried. Your body is telling you that you’re emotionally exhausted and need to rest. Whether that’s through sleeping, meditation or even a workout when angry, listen to your physical emotional cues to help you manage your emotions.
And lastly, tell yourself at least one good thing about yourself each day. Even if it’s small like ‘I like my nails or I had a shower today’. Make yourself feel proud!
This dimension of self-care focuses on the environment you find yourself in and how you take care of it. This relates to your room and living space. Now we all understand that you can have some housemates who choose not to clean up in the kitchen or even help cleaning at all. But one space you do have full control over is your bedroom. This aspect of self-care has become even more important over the last couple of years due to the pandemic and lockdown.
To relieve any anxiety or stress, declutter and clean your room. It will make you feel physically lighter and have a clearer and cleaner mind. Make sure you’re letting light and fresh air when you can as this can also help increase positive moods. Depending on your own habits either set a cleaning task daily or weekly to suit your lifestyle. The most important area of your room you should keep clean is the desk, as you’ll be spending a good amount of time at it. Personal touches will also make you feel more comforted and relaxed in your space.
This relates to your attitude, relationship and responsibility with money, managing debts and reaching any financial goals. As a student I know we all get anxious when we reach the last few weeks before students loans come through, but we can easily avoid that. Whilst university can come with a busy and expensive social life, you need to set yourself financial boundaries to ensure you avoid financial stress and worries.
One way to practice financial self-care is by checking your accounts regularly. Also, take the time to understand your relationship with money. For a month keep a spending diary to allow you to see and understand where and what you’re actually buying. From there you can make an informed decision of what to reduce or cut out entirely. Remember it’s alright to have a bit of fun and treat yourself from time to time.
Also, allow yourself to be on top of your finances whether that’s about reaching goals or paying debts. You can set yourself a monthly/quarterly or yearly saving goal to help you feel financially confident.
This relates to the expansion of your mind. Whether that’s picking up a book or magazine, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries, socialising, painting – you name it. It’s about activating and stimulating a part of your brain that may be overcome with stress and any other ‘negative’ emotions. It’s important to note that these activities are to be enjoyed and not made to feel like another task you need to tick off. If you want to make it a challenge, ease into it by reading a book a month or painting each week.
This was a very important aspect of self-care during Covid lockdowns as many of us felt uninspired- which is the last thing you want if you need to write an essay or create something for coursework.
Focusing on one’s relationship with work, places a spotlight on the importance of a work/life balance. As students, this could mean coursework and for some a part-time job on top of everything. Illustrating the importance of setting boundaries for yourself, it’s about making either your boss understand they can’t contact you past a certain time, or you’re bombarded with work resulting in you burning out. In addition, it’s about setting yourself times to be productive/ do work. One way to manage this and avoid deadline stress and staying up until the early hours of the morning is through a schedule. Set yourself two hours of work then a half-an-hour break – and repeat.
Ensure you reward yourself for your hard work through breaks involving cooking, exercise or journaling – if you’re feeling proud, watch an episode of your favourite show.
Another obvious dimension to self-care involves your body. To ensure you’re caring for it right get some exercise in each day. Whether that may be yoga, a walk or a full-on gym session. In addition, place a focus on how you treat your skin – even a shower can boost your mood or changing into new clothes.
Be mindful of what you put into your body, ensuring you drink water, eat well and get the rest your body needs. To help with sleep either avoid screens an hour before bed or turn blue light off. Don’t feel guilty about one or two boozy nights out or junk food days. Just make sure there is balance to your lifestyle.
As humans, we are social beings, but society can give us many stresses and cause anxiety within us. University is all about having a buzzing social life which can make us feel disappointed when we might not have one. Social interaction is important and can help you feel more positive. It’s all about finding the right people to click with. Either join social clubs or mingle with your coursemates.
It’s important to note that your free time doesn’t mean you’re available. So set your boundaries when it comes to social outings etc as it’s important to keep some time to yourself.
Entering a deeper level to oneself, spiritual self-care relates to creating and growing your connection with your higher self. Now, this can mean something completely different to each person. It all relates to energies that can’t be seen. To ensure you’re connecting with the energies around you, practice daily meditation even if it’s for five minutes when you wake up or are going to sleep. Yoga is also another form of meditation you can use. Other methods simply include a walk-through nature – with no distractions such as music.