Self-care TIPS for students

Self-care TIPS for students

Why self-care tips for students matter

Moving away to university is fun and exciting but it can also be stressful. You have to move to a new city, take on new responsibilities, build new habits, and make new friends, all while studying for your degree. And you don’t have your familiar family and friends around to provide support.

That is a lot of change to be dealing with, which can take its toll on you. These self-care tips for students will help you look after your wellbeing.

The main sources of student stress are typically:

  • The pressure of academic work and assessments
  • Workload and time management
  • Managing money
  • Job prospects after graduation

Expect to encounter some, if not all, of them while you’re at university. The self-care tips in this article will help you know what to do if you do find yourself struggling or needing help.

Dealing with problems and getting support

The first self-care tip is don’t keep your problems bottled up or hidden. Talk to someone you trust about them. “A problem shared is a problem halved” as the saying goes. Experiencing wellbeing issues is a normal facet of everyday life. Nobody is going to judge you or think less of you for being open about any problems you are facing. In fact, they will probably respect you for it, so don’t suffer in silence.

Talk to a friend

Talking to a friend can help you understand the issue more clearly even if you don’t get any input from them. Sharing a problem with someone helps you see things from another point of view, which may be just what you need.

What you thought was difficult or impossible may become simple to fix once you get someone else’s perspective on it. If a friend can’t offer you any specific advice, they can provide emotional support, which can help you cope while you try to find a solution.

Although talking to friends is helpful in most situations, remember that they won’t always give the best advice. Depending on the exact issue, you may need to talk to someone with specialist knowledge or training.

Talk to your tutors

If you have any problems that relate to your course, talk to a tutor that you trust. Many students are reticent to do this, but most tutors will make time to have a private chat with you if you ask them to.

Don’t be hesitant to talk to them because you don’t want to admit that you are having difficulty with the course material. Pretending that a problem isn’t there won’t make it go away. It just allows it to go unsolved, guaranteeing that you will hand in substandard work or miss the deadline completely.

Rather than struggling alone until you have little time to solve a problem, talk to your tutor so you can overcome it as early as possible. They will have probably seen students with a similar problem before, so they should be able to help you find a solution.

You will look much more mature, responsible, and competent if you proactively seek help rather than pretend that everything is under control only to get found out when it really matters — when you hand in your final work.

General support

Support for any difficulties you experience as a student should be available from a dedicated support team at your university or your students’ union. Both services will have lots of experience in dealing with the problems that students face. They should be able to help you with everything from financial issues to problems relating to health, wellbeing, and accommodation.

Students’ Union advice services tend to operate independently of the university. If you have an issue which might be a conflict of interest for your university to deal with (e.g. you think that you have been graded unfairly or treated inappropriately on your course), you should visit your Students’ Union to see how they can help. They will be able to provide support and guidance on the best way for you to proceed.

Wellbeing support

Wellbeing support should be available from your university. There may be trained counsellors or mental health professionals that can help you directly, or they may refer you to a separate service for specialist support.

Mental health support should be available through your local health service (a good reason to register with a GP while at uni) as well as local community services. The exact services available and the procedure for accessing them will vary depending on where you are studying, so consult your university support service or local GP for more information.

If you experience mental health issues that affect your academic performance, you should inform your university’s student support service. They will be able to advise you on any special allowances or extra support such as deadline extensions or flexible learning arrangements you can access to help you with your studies.

Again, don’t be shy when it comes to seeking support. Almost everyone who eventually does so wishes they had done it sooner.

Managing day-to-day

People experiencing mental health issues often feel isolated, which can make things feel worse. So my next self-care tip is to make sure you interact regularly with friends and social groups, even when it seems hard or you don’t feel like it. They can act as a peer support network and stop you from feeling alone.

Find a safe space on campus that you like that you can go to and chill out if you are feeling stressed. Many universities have dedicated wellbeing spaces but anywhere that allows you to escape from stress and decompress, such as your favourite spot in the library, coffee shop, or a quiet corner of campus will do.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is defined as the process of bringing one’s attention to the present moment. Studies have shown that worrying (which, by definition, involves thinking about the future) can contribute to depression and anxiety. Mindfulness can reduce anxiety by helping people remain focused on the present. Common activities that naturally promote a mindful state include:

  • Non-competitive exercise (e.g. yoga, weight training, running, walking)
  • Breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Puzzles and computer games that promote a “flow state”. They should be challenging enough to absorb your attention but not so difficult that they become frustrating and counter-productive.
  • Mindfulness apps. There are several phone apps available. Try some and see if they work for you.

Healthy habits

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle helps to prevent wellbeing issues from becoming unmanageable. You should pay particular attention to your diet as well as your exercise and sleep routines.

Engaging in tasks and activities that provide you with a sense of purpose and accomplishment, such as community projects or working towards long-term goals, are known to promote positive emotions such as satisfaction, pride, and joy.

Combined with a healthy lifestyle and robust personal relationships, this kind of behaviour helps you to have a positive outlook on life, lowering the likelihood that you will encounter serious wellbeing issues.

Self-care tips for students – wrapping up

Almost all of us will experience mental distress or emotional difficulties from time to time. They are a normal part of life, so don’t be in denial about any difficulties you are facing. It is better to be proactive about dealing with problems while they are small and manageable so that you minimise their impact on your life. Ignoring them usually makes things worse.

Hopefully, these self-care tips for students will help you manage your wellbeing at university. If things start feeling like they are getting on top of you, remember these three things:

  • Focus on the positives in your life
  • Be proactive in dealing with the negatives
  • Don’t be hesitant about seeking help if you need it

Don’t worry – you got this!