The Importance of Self-Care at University

March 26, 2020 Rachel Grier

Dedicating enough time to self-care is harder than it sounds. It’s particularly challenging when you’re a university student, as there are so many other things to think about — your studies, social life, and maybe a part-time job. As a result, many university students end up neglecting self-care, but this can have serious consequences. Find out why self-care is so important below.

Impact on Mental Health

Mental health issues like anxiety and depression are widespread among university students. It’s unclear exactly how many students suffer from these conditions, as many of them battle alone without ever seeking treatment. What we do know is that, at some point, a large number of students have experienced overwhelming anxiety or depression that has made it difficult to function.

The Stigma Around Mental Health

Despite the prevalence of these problems, many students are failing to receive the help they need due to a stigma around seeking treatment. As a result, students’ academics suffer, which leads to even more stress.

Students who do seek support from a mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychologist, are able to receive a diagnosis and treatment plan. The latter often includes suggestions for self-care that students can apply to their everyday lives.

How Can Self-Care Help?

Self-care is much more than taking time to relax (although that is part of it!). In fact, the most effective self-care means constantly paying attention to your emotional and physical health. It may sound simple, but much of self-care comes down to making sure you eat well, sleep enough, exercise regularly, and practise good personal hygiene, plus anything else you can do to reduce stress.

By doing all these things, you’ll be better prepared to take on challenges. You’ll find it easier to concentrate in class and during your studies. Finally, your self-esteem and confidence may even improve, too.

Basic Tips for Self-Care

There are several basic ways everyone can practise self-care:

  • Whenever you feel overwhelmed, take a break. Go for a walk, do some stretches, or meditate. If you feel exhausted, take a short nap.
  • Set a sleep schedule where you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Make sure you receive around 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night — you may need to experiment to figure out how much your body need.
  • Once you’re getting enough sleep, you’ll have enough energy to exercise. Aim for a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes a day, three to five days a week. In addition, find ways to be more active, such as walking or biking to class or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Improve your nutrition and drink water instead of sugary or caffeinated drinks.
  • Make an effort to meet people at university and to maintain an active social life. Also, stay in touch with family and friends back home.
  • Give yourself permission to say “no” when you feel you need time to yourself or your schedule is already full.
  • Whenever you start dwelling on negative thoughts, think of something positive. Remembering past successes or reminding yourself of your goals for the future is always useful.
  • Declutter your room to organize your mind.
  • Seek professional help if ever you feel you need it.

Although it may be difficult to implement these tips at all times, it’s always possible to start with small steps. Think about simple adaptations you can make to your lifestyle to make them possible over time.

For instance, it is always easier to practise good self-care when you have a comfortable living space. This often means leaving on-campus housing and moving into student rentals. St. Catharines students are fortunate to have Regent Student Living as an attractive option. Here, you’ll receive your own private bedroom in a suite that has a full kitchen, where you can prepare healthy meals. Plus, you’ll have access to an onsite fitness centre and study rooms — everything you need to practise good self-care.