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What is Self-Care and Why is it Important?

Posted in Student Life by melissaleclerc on March 9, 2021

Picture this: it’s the morning. You’re lying in bed after another night of no sleep. Your mind is racing with everything you need to do today: that essay deadline to meet, the seminars to prepare for, and the group presentation that still needs completing. With relationships and your health to take care of on top of all that, things are looking pretty stacked right now. If this sounds familiar, then you’re not alone.

While uni can be an exciting, fulfilling time, things can also get pretty stressful now and then, so it’s important not to let this stress get out of control. Self-care is one way of enhancing your quality of life during your studies, helping to boost our well-being and improve our mental health so we can stay healthy, positive and ready for all the challenges university throws at us.

If you haven’t been feeling your usual self lately, then this article is for you. We’ll take a closer look at self-care and just how important it is, as well as some things you can do to make it more of a regular thing in your life.


student listening to music through headphones


What is self-care?

Self-care isn’t just about treating yourself every so often. And while we’re big fans of the self-reward, there’s more to self-care than retail therapy or stuffing your face with your favourite food.

Self-care is about taking deliberate, conscious actions to improve your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. It really is as simple as that. And although this might sound a bit self-explanatory, the truth is that many of us pay very little attention to our own self-care.

By making it a regular and routine part of our lives, however, self-care can have a powerful, positive effect on us.


Why is self-care important?

Self-care is important because it teaches us to look after ourselves both mentally and physically, even when there’s a lot going on in our lives. When things get on top of us, it’s easy to forget about taking better care of yourself. But when we do the things that make us feel better, it’ll help us think differently about other aspects of life, whether it’s work or relationships.

Remember: you shouldn’t confuse self-care with being selfish, because there’s a big difference between the two. Part of self-care is projecting the good feelings you create in yourself onto others. It’s impossible to give to others what you don’t have yourself, so when we practise self-care, it refreshes and re-energises us so that we can be the best version of ourselves.


student on a run


What are the benefits of self-care?

Improved physical health

Self-care doesn’t mean you have to start hitting the gym every day to benefit from better physical health. Whether it’s taking daily walks or getting enough sleep (a big self-care pillar), keeping an eye on our physical health can play a big part in our mood.

Reduced stress and anxiety

Dialling back the busy in our lives and doing more relaxing activities can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. From practising yoga and meditation, to unwinding in a nice, warm bath, anything that lets us relax goes a long way to lifting our mood and keeping stress and anxiety levels down.

Greater self-esteem

A calmer mind and body can be a big factor in seeing ourselves in a more positive light. Treating yourself with kindness can give you a nice, big boost of self-esteem, and studies have shown that people with higher self-esteem often find it easier to deal with setbacks and are more likely to achieve goals of self-improvement.

Stronger relationships

All the benefits mentioned above have a knock-on effect on our relationships too. When we’re feeling down, relationships can sometimes feel less fulfilling and more of a struggle.

But the happier we feel and the healthier we are, the more it affects those around us, letting us give more to a relationship, whether it’s friends or partners.


students having a meal together


What are some good examples of self-care?

One of the best things about practising self-care is that it’s not some sort of pricey, exclusive undertaking. Many of the most beneficial examples are completely free, which is great news if you’re a bit strapped for cash right now. Looking to make self-care part of your life? Give these examples a go:

  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Go for a walk in your favourite park
  • Relax in a nice, warm bath
  • Say no to something you don’t want to do (learning to say no is a big one)
  • Make a list of five or more things you like about yourself
  • Cook something healthy and delicious for dinner
  • Avoid staying in your pyjamas; getting dressed can have a big psychological effect on our self-esteem
  • Look up some beginner’s yoga or meditation videos on YouTube and follow along
  • Treat yourself like you would your best friend
  • Make time for your hobbies and do something you love
  • Binge-watch your favourite Netflix show
  • Choose who you spend time with

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