Self-Care 101

While this time of year tends to be fun and festive, it’s also arguably the busiest and most overwhelming — especially for students. For those who participate in holiday celebrations, it’s not only financially and physically demanding, but it’s also the most academically demanding time of the semester. The pressures of making social plans and being inundated by social media photos of festivities also contribute to feeling down this time of year. The shorter days and colder weather don’t do much to alleviate our moods either.

Courtesy of Sacha Chua via Flickr

It may seem obvious to some, but for many, the years spent at university are the times when you must learn to take care of yourself. With the added academic and social pressures, it’s easy to forget to put yourself first. These simple and easy tips can be monumental in making sure you feel your best and get through this time positively and successfully.

Get enough sleep

It’s the age-old tale that we’ve been told to get our eight hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, cramming to study and finish assignments, social commitments and your latest Netflix obsession make it hard to go to bed at a decent time. However, StatsCan researchers have advocated that lack of sleep (both duration and quality) is associated with major illnesses like obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, injuries, depression and reduced well-being.

It’s important to make time for sleep. If you struggle, using a sleep-monitoring app, such as Sleep Cycle, will help you monitor your patterns better and make the changes you need.

Try to have a designated time to sleep each night regardless of the day and keep your sleep space cool, dark and quiet. Plug your phone in across the room so that you’re less likely to keep checking it when you can’t fall asleep. For an hour before your designated sleep time, indulge in a digital detox that doesn’t involve your laptop, phone or TV.

‘Me’ time

In addition to taking care of your physical health, taking care of your emotional and mental well-being is just as important. Between juggling academics and other responsibilities, it’s important to take the time to recharge your own battery. This is different for everyone.

What relaxes you and takes your mind off of everything? For some it could be reading, watching a movie, cooking, going for a walk or even taking a bath. Whatever it may be, make sure you set this time aside. You can even make it an appointment in your agenda. No matter how busy you are, you can always find a gap of time to implement self-care.

Staying organized and planning your days is the best way to ensure this time and to also stay on top of all your commitments, whether it’s a physical planner or an app that can help you, use it!

Fuel your body

This one is simple: if you eat like crap then you’ll feel like crap. Fast food and junk food may be easy to find and cheap to buy, but try giving your body the nutrients it needs and see how much better you feel. It’s all about balance. You can treat yourself every once in awhile, but the more good foods you put into your body, the better it will work for you.

Check these out for some cheaper and healthier options:

http://ryersonian.ca/healthy-fast-food-restaurants-around-campus/

http://ryersonian.ca/ryersons-best-lesser-known-cheap-eat-spots/

Planning and organizing your budget and grocery lists will help you make sure you have the options you want to be eating handy. Packing snacks and lunches can also help alleviate some financial burdens.

It’s also important to bear in mind the other things you put into your body. Consume any drugs or alcohol in moderation to ensure you’re feeling at your best. Although indulging in a few drinks after a long, stressful week may seem like a good idea, think about how damaging it may be in the long run.

Exercise

Exercise is a game changer for your health, not only physically, but mentally as well. Getting some form of exercise not only releases endorphins and reduces stress, but can also lead to better sleep and a sharper focus when you’re doing work.

It’s important to note that there is no need for rigorous gym workouts. If you don’t like to be super active, walk the two subway stops instead of using transit. Or suggest a walk with a friend as opposed to meeting up for a drink. Just bundle up and get out there. Even taking the stairs every day instead of the elevator makes a big difference.

Be sure to check out these resources for students.

Take advantage of services

Even with all of these tips and trying your hardest to do everything right in terms of eating, sleeping, and taking care of yourself, it might still not be enough.

There ARE services that can help you, and you’ve probably absentmindedly seen them in your email inbox. Do not hesitate to seek help. There are many events and resources available to make sure you’re at your best mentally, physically and emotionally. Please use them:

http://www.ryerson.ca/healthandwellness/

http://www.ryerson.ca/healthandwellness/counselling/

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