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two people walking through the UBC grounds
December 5, 2017
3 mins read

How to take care of yourself

We often feel a strong sense of responsibility to perform well in school and work and to be our best selves for other people.

If you’re really involved with clubs or volunteering or even family obligations, it can feel like you’re being pulled in different directions. You might find that you are spreading yourself thin. When things get busy like this, we can often put our own needs at the bottom of our to-do list. In fact, when life starts to get busy, self-care needs to be a priority. Remember that among all the responsibilities you have in your life, the most important one is the responsibility you have to yourself.

Self-care isn’t selfish…taking care of yourself allows you to succeed in your other responsibilities. Your physical and mental wellbeing are strongly connected. Eating nutritiously, getting enough sleep, and exercising can help improve your mood, strengthen your immune system, and provide you with the energy you need to thrive.

Here are some ways you can incorporate self-care into your routine.

Schedule breaks

Taking a break from studying will not only allow you to de-stress and clear your mind, but it can help you be more productive. While it might seem counter-intuitive to schedule breaks, it can boost energy and focus. Use the calendar on your phone or an app such as the pomodoro timer to remind yourself to take a study break. Take 10-15 minutes to go for a walk outside, doodle, or eat a healthy snack.

two students taking a break during a walk in an forest setting

Do what brings you joy

Make time to engage in hobbies that you enjoy. Whether it’s playing your favourite sport, painting, baking, or taking time to meditate, breath and/or stretch, find an activity that helps you feel fully present. There are lots of fun activities to do at UBC, including clubs or classes/intramurals with UBC Recreation. Spend time doing what you’re passionate about and make the most of it!

Practice self-compassion

When you don’t meet the high standards you set for yourself (and hey, sometimes we don’t and that’s part of the learning process) it can be easy to let your inner critic run wild. Recognize that moment when you start to engage in negative self-talk and be kind to yourself. If you find yourself comparing you to your classmates, take a moment to reflect on your strengths and what you can do moving forward. Treat yourself with the same compassion you would show to your friends and loved ones.

Slow down

As a student, having school, work, extracurriculars, and a full social calendar is sometimes glorified. Listen to your body and know when to say no, especially if your first instinct is to please others. Be assertive in your decisions and know your boundaries. Even when you feel FOMO (fear of missing out) creeping up, recognize when you need an evening to yourself to recharge instead of a night out.

Self-care looks different for everyone, so remember that there is no ‘right way’ to take care of yourself. Do what makes you feel good, even if it doesn’t look like a bubble bath or a nap. Sometime self-care might not feel great in the moment but is about identifying what your needs are and making sure you take care of yourself. If you ever feel overwhelmed and feel that you need to reach out for help, know that there are resources at UBC to support you, such as the Wellness Centre and Counselling Services. The UBC Health and Wellness website also has plenty of tips on self-care.