Self-care doesn’t have to mean expensive yoga classes or luxury retreats. Genuine self-care should be something you can integrate into your routine without blowing your monthly budget. This guide will break down some self-care strategies you can use every day, every week, or just every once in a while.
Find some ‘you’ time
There’s more to life than study, sleep, repeat. When you’ve got a lot going on, it’s easy to get sucked into the whirlwind of deadlines and assignments, and before you know it, it’s midnight and you haven’t stepped away from your computer. So put aside 30 minutes each day to do something that makes you happy: try out some mindfulness practise (we have a guide for that), run a hot bath, game online with some friends, call someone for a chat or pick up a good book. Use this time to break up the afternoon or as a way to wind down when you’re done with work for the day - whenever it happens, the point is to switch off and make space for the things you love.
Exercise of any kind or length will make you feel so much better physically and mentally. If you’re worried about making time, studies have found that a well-used half hour of exercise is actually more beneficial than spending an hour or more in an unfocused way, and even ten minutes can make a difference. Or there’s always the classic recommendation of aiming for 10,000 steps a day.
Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore - experiment with different styles until you find something you genuinely enjoy. Especially now, there are so many free options to give you some exercise inspiration: start running with the Couch to 5k app or podcast; try cycling to school or college; check out free yoga, Pilates, and dance classes on YouTube (we have a guide for that, too); or even just download a podcast or audiobook and take a walk around the block.
Just spending time in green spaces and nature can make a huge difference to your mental health. Try a spot of gardening if you want to stay close to home - but don’t forget to venture farther afield sometimes, too. Check out local parks and nature reserves, volunteer for an outdoor organisation, visit a petting zoo, or take a walk by the river or ocean if you’ve got one nearby. If in doubt, head for the leaves.
How can something as annoying as cleaning your room be self-care? Believe it or not, studies have found that a cluttered living space is linked to stress. Set aside some time every week to tidy up your room or shared living spaces and you’ll feel so much better all week long. If you hate to clean, try this method: pick one room or area to focus on for the day, and take a before and after picture of your cleaning work. The visual proof of how much you’ve achieved will make the tidying so much more satisfying.
Every couple of months
Plan an adventure
This doesn’t have to be a globe-trotting extravaganza, but it’s great to break up your regular routine every once in a while. It’s important to give yourself something to look forward to besides end of term holidays - even if it’s just something small. Grab a few friends and go camping, take the bus to a nearby forest for a hike, find a free art class, or join a new group or society. Maybe this is the time to splurge a bit by doing an Escape Room or seeing a musical. The point is, once you’ve found your routine (even with all this self-care added in), don’t get trapped in a rut: find big and small ways to occasionally try something new.