Taking time for yourself sounds like an easy thing to do. You think it would be simple to balance academic studies with your own self-care but amidst deadlines, exams, and attempting to attend every lecture (which never happens), it is far too easy to lose yourself.
Not doing so can take a serious toll on your mental health, leaving you feeling run-down and helpless. I have felt it myself, the overwhelming feeling of being weighed down with my workload, not feeling like I have the time to step away and focus on myself for a minute. This has resulted in late, sleepless nights and not having time to do the things I enjoy. After a ridiculous number of times this has happened, I feel now that I am finally learning from my stresses. I am not claiming to have mastered this balance, but here are a few of my tips which you may find helpful:
Make lists, mental notes or even put reminders in your phone of the things you need to complete and the deadlines they need completing by. This may end up bringing on stress through seeing everything in list form although it will allow you to put your tasks into perspective. Doing so also means that you can then begin to plan other things around your studies and your social life. This helps especially when things are particularly hectic. I like to set out a bit of time in the day or across the week for the little self-care tasks I do, for instance doing a face mask, painting my nails, and Facetiming my friends.
Planning breaks in your day of studying means there is less chance of looking at your phone for a minute and then ending up 185 weeks deep scrolling through someone Instagram. You can save the scrolling for when you don’t risk feeling guilty or even more stressed by it. Taking a break also acts as a great chance to socialise. Meet your friends for a coffee and lunch break. You can have a moan, gossip, and chat to take your mind off studying for an hour or so. Getting things off your mind and speaking about them aloud always acts as a great method of self-caring. Your friends, family, and even university staff will always give the reassurance you need that things are not as bad as you think they are. Ultimately, this will put a smile on your face and make you feel a little better.
Taking a walk, going to the gym, and joining a sports team are all methods of self-care. The release of endorphins will also leave you feeling less stressed and will start to improve your mental health. It is great to add exercise into your day around your studies. This can be something simple like taking the longer route to the bus stop or parking a little further from campus, which is also a perfect excuse to listen to some music. Adding exercise into your day will also help you sleep better. I have found that being sat behind my laptop or in stuffy lecture theatres all day leaves me wide awake at 1am struggling to relax. By just adding a walk into my day helps me clear my mind, take in the scenery and forces me to unwind and not thinking about my studies.
If you are struggling to balance your self-care and academic studies never be too shy to ask for help. There is support on offer from the university which will be very beneficial if you are having a hard time or just want some friendly advice.