Self-Care for Students
Finding the right work-life balance for maximum academic success and well-being
You’re a student overloaded with homework, and after concentrating the whole day for lessons that aren’t always interesting, you head to your extracurricular activities. You get home around 5 pm at the earliest, and you need to spend time with family for say 1-2 hours. By then the clock strikes 8 pm, and you barely have any time left, staying up until past midnight to finish homework, perhaps spend some time listening to music and watching Netflix, then wake up at 6 am to head to school. The next morning the cycle starts over. How do you stay sane?
Self-care: What you can do to maintain well-being and prevent illness
Self-care is especially important when you have such a busy schedule, regardless if you’re in school or college. Long-term stress can make you feel anxious and depressed or even result in physical health problems like headaches, muscle pain and fatigue which can cause even more stress and difficulty when trying to keep up with your schedule.
Here are what some college students have said about staying emotionally healthy:
A Delhi LLB student: “Pay attention in class and try to understand the material.”
It may sound obvious, but when you pay attention to what is being taught, you’ll understand the concepts better. You won’t have to study as much which leaves more time for relaxing.
A Filipino IT graduate: “Listen to something that makes you calm or that will help you learn better while studying.”
Our mood directly affects our ability to concentrate and study. If you have a lot of worries on your mind, you lose concentration which could lead to procrastination. Studies have shown that music influences our mood, blood pressure, and heart rate; the latter which are the meaning behind stress body response systems. It is best to stick with classical or meditation music because there are no lyrics to distract you and keeps you relaxed and concentrated.
An Indonesian Economics graduate: “I wake up earlier and study. I found out that it is easier to focus on subjects when everyone else is asleep. The key is to make sure that you have enough sleep the night before, so waking up early will make you feel fresher instead of dizzy.”
Some people focus best as early birds, others as perpetual night owls. Figuring out the best time for you is key to academic success. But don’t study near your usual bedtime- this will keep you up late at night, defeating the purpose of self-care strategies.
How do I reduce stress?
Studies have shown that some people are more likely to get stressed than others. The key is to be more similar to the type B personality that is less prone to stress.
Type B Characteristics:
don’t mind leaving things incomplete sometimes
calm and not always in a hurry
lets the other person finish their sentences
focuses on one thing at a time
satisfied with life
has many social activities/interests
How to incorporate Type B character traits
Vacation - plan a getaway at least once a year to get a change of scenery.
Get support - research the support available at school, whether it be counseling, teachers, your class tutor or through any online source. What are some tasks that may require an extension? Can you ask for special requirements in exams?
Action plan - identify what is causing you stress. Brainstorm as many coping methods as you can think of. Make a plan on how to set the ideal outcome to action.
Relaxation - having downtime every day is important. Try new things. Practice yoga, meditation, deep muscle relaxation and/or mindfulness.
Open up - socializing can make you feel less alone when dealing with student stress. Find someone you trust to vent to or just ask them to be there for you.
International Self-care Foundation, What is self-care? https://isfglobal.org/what-is-self-care/ [Accessed 29/7/19]
Sylwester, R. and Cho, J.-Y. (1992). What Brain Research Says About Paying Attention. Students at Risk, Educational Leadership, 50(4), 71-75. http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/dec92/vol50/num04/What-Brain-Research-Says-About-Paying-Attention.aspx [Accessed 29/7/19]
Northcentral Insights and Stories (2017), Can Music Help you study and focus? https://www.ncu.edu/blog/can-music-help-you-study-and-focus [Accessed 29/7/19]
Jaffe, E. (2013) Why Wait? The Science Behind Procrastination https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/why-wait-the-science-behind-procrastination [Accessed 29/7/19]
The National Sleep Foundation, Sleep Drive and Your Body Clock https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleep-drive-and-your-body-clock [Accessed 29/7/19]
The National Sleep Foundation, Sleep Hygiene https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleep-hygiene [Accessed 29/7/19]
Friedman, H. S., Hall, J. A., & Harris, M. J. (1985). Type A behavior, nonverbal expressive style, and health. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48(5), 1299-1315.
Krauss Whitbourne, S. (2010). The importance of vacations to our physical and mental health https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201006/the-importance-vacations-our-physical-and-mental-health [Accessed 29/7/19]
University of Kansas, Community Tool Box, Section 5. Developing an Action Plan https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/structure/strategic-planning/develop-action-plans/main [Accessed 29/7/19]
Scott, E. (2019). 17 Highly Effective Stress Relievers https://www.verywellmind.com/tips-to-reduce-stress-3145195 [Accessed 29/7/19]
Goldsmith, B. (2011). Talk About Your Problems, Please. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-fitness/201103/talk-about-your-problems-please [Accessed 29/7/19]