What do you imagine when you hear the words ‘self-care’? Is it a blogger trying to sell you a Korean sheet mask and a jade roller? An overly-aesthetic bullet journal?
Given that it’s the influencer’s buzzword of 2019, you’d be forgiven if the first thing you imagine is advertising.
But in reality, self-care should be an intrinsic part of our lives. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or complicated. It’s just a little push to make sure we’re really looking after ourselves, which can be difficult, especially in stressful times like exam season.
With that said, here are my practical tips for looking after yourself over exam season.
The word ‘multitasking’ may bring to mind some young professional trying to do a hundred things at once, while failing to do any of them, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Multitasking can be an effective strategy to make the tasks you hate not only bearable, but even enjoyable. It can be as easy as buying yourself a sweet treat to enjoy while you’re revising, or listening to music you like while flicking through flashcards.
Something this simple may not seem like self-care, but it minimises the hours you spend feeling miserable and wishing you were doing something else. Making these boring tasks enjoyable will really improve your mood over the course of a day.
After a day of hard work, schedule time for yourself to do something you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be a candle-lit bath or a twelve-step skincare regime - it can be as simple as watching an hour of trashy Netflix or skyping your family at home.
The important thing here is that you dedicate time to yourself. Just as your high school teachers nagged you to make a revision timetable, you have to schedule time for undisturbed relaxation.
Much like self-care itself, meditation gets a bad reputation. Admittedly, it is in vogue right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s a passing trend. I started meditating a couple of months ago and found that it’s really changed my day-to-day life.
I’ve particularly noticed that I’m not as quick to anger as I used to be (pedestrians who walk out in front of my car get an eye-roll instead of a honk now) and it’s a lot easier for me to note feelings of worry and let them go, rather than going down a rabbit hole of panic. This calmer outlook is really beneficial both to my studies and my own wellbeing.
Some meditation apps even have dedicated resources for students, to help you develop a healthy relationship with stress and help you to focus on your work.
There are hundreds of resources online for cheap and easy meals for students (including several here on the Common Room) so you don’t need to be a natural-born chef to rustle up something wholesome and delicious.
Cooking is also a self-care win-win. Not only is the act of cooking relaxing in itself, you can also get some real joy from a hearty, home-cooked meal. Also, you can’t ignore that bit of pride when your flatmates say, ‘That smells so good! What are you making?’
To make things super simple, I’d advise looking up one-pan roasting tin recipes. This way you just chop things, add spices, bung it in the oven, and forget about it till your alarm goes off. It’s barely more effort than making fish fingers.
Don’t leave self-care until you’re in crisis mode. Try to incorporate these things into your daily routine. This way, when stress hits, you have the tools to tackle it healthily. Until that time, good luck in your revision, and remember to put your wellbeing first!