Self-Care for Students

As we are in the middle of October, I would like to shift our attention to Wellness Month. With technology all around us, and our devices constantly nudging us to check out the latest social media post or the next school assignment, Wellness Month reminds us to take care of ourselves both physically and emotionally. Especially during times of overwhelm and uncertainty, remember that there are a lot of ways you can take care of your physical and mental health. I’ve listed a few of them below:

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is essential to all parts of your body. It’s key to improving and maintaining your cognitive function, heart health, muscles, and so much more. As a student, drinking enough water will give you more energy and help you stay focused. Staying hydrated is easy, and there are some ways to do so that you might not have considered. Eating water-rich foods such as salads and fruits can help increase your water intake. If you don’t like water, you can use Mio, a Liquid Water Enhancer to flavour your water. You can also drink tea or hot chocolate. There is a recommended daily intake of eight 8oz glasses, but this entirely depends on individual needs (Kris Gunnars, 2020).

Exercise

With all of the homework, assignment, and project deadlines you have coming up, it can be hard to make time for exercise. However, exercise keeps your body and brain healthy, and it can also help you retain information better. If you ever feel stressed, exercising helps release endorphins to reduce your stress. It can also help you sleep better which is key in helping your brain work better.

Exercising at home has also been made much easier. There are plenty of amazing workouts you can do by watching fitness channels on YouTube or by downloading free workout apps on your phone.

Take small breaks

While you’re doing your homework or studying for an exam, take short 5-10 minute breaks every hour. During your break, you can make a healthy snack in the kitchen, grab a glass of water, call a friend, or play with your furry pet (if you have one). Other relaxing practices you can do are meditation and mindfulness. With the simple act of paying attention to your breath, meditation can reduce stress and increase calmness . Practicing mindfulness will also help you stay engaged with the present moment and help you accept any challenges you face without judgment.

Decrease screen time

In this day and age, it’s a norm to be always on our phones, laptops, or tablets. However, we need time away from screens even if we’re busy writing an essay. You can start off by being intentional with your time. Tell yourself you are going to study for 4 hours in the evening and will only be using technology then. This will help you set limits on your screen use, giving you time to relax for a couple of hours each day. Another helpful tip to reduce eye strain and fatigue is to spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes (Kira Systems).

Sleep

Getting enough sleep is one of the most crucial advice I can give you. Sleep can often be neglected when you’re busy meeting deadlines for school, but doing so will hurt your mental capabilities and overall health. Depending on your age, you should be getting the recommended hours of shut-eye (I’ve linked an article on this in the References section below). Sleeping the right amount every night guarantees to improve your concentration, productivity, and cognition. It’s as vital as regular exercise and eating a balanced diet.

Be grateful

Expressing thankfulness is something that we humans don’t often think about doing, especially during stressful times, but it is actually simple to reframe our mindset and put a spotlight on all the positive things in our lives. Dr. Laurie Santos, a professor of Psychology from Yale University, looked at research that suggests “you can retrain your mind to focus on happier things simply by paying attention to the kinds of things your grateful for” (Dr. Laurie Santos, 2020). One way you can do this is to list five things you are grateful for in a journal. You can do this in the morning, so you can start the day on a positive note, or before bed, so you can end the day with gratitude in your heart. Acknowledging the wonderful things that make up your life can significantly improve your happiness and well-being.

There you have it – six ways you can improve your well-being as a student. Maintaining a healthy well-being allows you to foster good relationships, eat properly, and achieve any goals you set out for yourself. As a result, you can better handle life’s stresses and maintain a sense of calm and balance. Remember, it’s okay to disconnect from the world from time to time, so you can take better care of you.

References

Fletcher, Jenna and Deborah Weatherspoon, PhD., R.N., CRNA., editor (medical) (May 31, 2019). Why sleep is essential for health. Medical News Today. Accessed on October 10th, 2020 via https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325353 

Gunnars, Kris, BSc (April 21, 2020). How Much Water Should You Drink Per Day? Healthline. Accessed on October 12th, 2020 via https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-water-should-you-drink-per-day 

Kira Systems (October 1st, 2020). Accessed on October 8th, 2020 via https://kirasystems.zoom.us/ 
Santos, Laurie, Dr (October 8, 2020). Dr. Laurie Santos’ 5 Favorite Coping Tips | #WithMe for World Mental Health Day. YouTube. Accessed on October 9th, 2020 via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCQim9VrnDY&feature=youtu.be

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