Self Care 101
Written by: Valerie Leow
As seen in the September 2018 Lazy Faire issue
Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment here - self care is hard. It requires you to take care of yourself, with popular mainstream articles often preaching about doing things that are oftentimes... not so enjoyable. However, chances are that these articles actually contain some useful advice. So maybe it’s time to do things a little differently this year and practice the following self care tips:
Living by the motto, “sleep is for the weak”, might actually be doing more harm than good. Instead, try getting at least 6 hours of sleep every night. By consistently getting not enough sleep each night, you’re essentially decreasing your brain’s overall effectiveness in terms of attention span, information recall ability, and reasoning skill.
Try treating yourself to a colourful new water bottle, or adding lemon or cucumber slices to your water - whatever it takes to remind yourself to properly hydrate throughout the day. Even though caffeine is a great way to keep you energized throughout the day, it has the potential to worsen or trigger anxiety - so enjoy it in moderation.
Maintaining a diverse and healthy diet will both positively affect your mood and help keep your body in good working order. Remember that a balance of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and protein in one’s diet is great. While they taste delicious, processed foods are high in sugar, salt, and trans fat, so you may want to limit the amount you consume.
Regular exercise keeps you fit and healthy and helps reduce stress. Whether it be a short walk outside, a full pre-planned workout at the gym, or attending a local spin class, scheduling in a session at least once or twice a week can actually boost your mood and energy, and also improve your sleep.
Take short, frequent breaks while studying. Even going by the “5 minute break every hour” rule will help with prevention of fatigue or burnout. And once everything is checked off of your to-do list make sure to schedule in some “me time” to relax, unwind, and do whatever you enjoy.
Asking for Help
Asking for help should be considered a sign of strength, rather than weakness. Simply venting to your friends about the terrible day you just had is a great way to relieve stress. And there’s no shame in attempting to seek professional help should you require it. Whatever your preferred coping method, try to avoid internalizing negative thoughts or emotions until they either explode or implode by proactively de-stressing.
Focusing on self care is especially challenging for students, with our days filled with too much to do and not enough time. It is when we are stressed and pressed for time that we try to cut corners on basic self care, deluding ourselves into thinking we can “make” more time for the things we believe we need to complete by neglecting activities that are vital to our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. However, finding time in your busy schedule for self care is always a worthwhile investment in order to maintain balance and succeed in your school life, work life, and personal life.