As a dedicated student, there are a few things more important than taking care of yourself during tough times, like before an exam or after a failed test. The school is a priority, but by no means, it should be valued more than your well-being. Only by covering your mental, physical and emotional health that you can live a fulfilled life – and perform well in school for the long term.
Students are often taught in school about the to-do lists for activities, lectures, class, exams, and whatnot, but do you have a to-do list for self-care strategies for stress? People tend to care less for themselves when problems arise, so it’s better to make self-care a habit. A to-do list with commitment will train to deal with tough times in life.
Below are some fundamental aspects in self-care that you can try as a student. If one doesn’t work for you, there are always alternatives.
1. Balanced diet
Too busy, too tight on financial problems, just don’t feel like it, going on a diet … College students seem to have an enormous list of reasons for not taking meals seriously. This is probably what harms your academic performance the most because a proper and balanced diet is key to your ability to learn, remember and use your knowledge.
It’s not that difficult to eat well, according to science. To boost your memory, brain activities and keep balance during tough times, you should:
- Have a nutritious breakfast every day
- Replace junk foods and empty calories with quick and nutritious meals. For example, have an apple instead of a burger.
- Get your share of water before caffeine. Only after having 8 glasses of water should you induce yourself with coffee.
- Limit your alcohol intake. If partying is your thing, then at least try not to drink so much in tough times, because it will take your body and mind longer to recover.
2. Take enough rest
Caught in a tough time, are you thinking that you should try your best to overcome it? Your determination is appreciated, but it will only work if you give yourself enough of rest, too. Not having enough sleep will cause your mood to fluctuate and lower your body immunity.
A lot of people employ means like drugs or alcohol to fall asleep faster, but this is not the useful way when time gets hard. Stimulant and alcohol consumption can disturb your sleeping rhythm, so while it helps you fall into sleep, the sleep quality itself is not adequate, and your body and mind will not be as rested.
7 – 9 hours of sleep is recommended by experts. If you really can’t fit this much time into your schedule, then aim for a 30-minute nap at noon. This break will refresh your body, making you feel less stressed and opening your mind. Innovation and creativity only come to rested brains.
Another time you should give yourself rest, besides the scheduled rests above, is when you feel stuck. Too much study and you feel like the information is not flowing in anymore? Take a 10-minute break, walking around or looking at the sky. Was it a difficult week? Take an evening just listen to music, read light novels, watch some movies – just before you sleep. These breaks work wonders in dealing with tough times, much more than partying or drinking.
Distraction from your problems will also help you to look at things in general, making the whole scene a lot easier to solve. The simplest way to do it is getting a good laugh – from funny comics, meeting a quirky friend or go for a comedy.
As a student, for sure you feel like you have a lot of strength to overcome tough times, thus you might get stuck in “working mode” – to get more and more done. There’s one thing, however, that is fundamental to your success, which is switching into “being mode” by breathing, and focusing on your breath.
Of course, you are already breathing – how else are you alive? However, deep breaths are different from your unconscious breathing rhythm. It is a technique to send your brain the calming down, relaxing signal. Your brain, then, will tell your body to decrease your heart rate, decrease your blood pressure and opening your heart.
Without any equipment, following these simple steps for a mindful breathing session:
- Sit still or lie flat – make yourself comfortable
- Put one hand on your belly
- Take a deep breath through your nose and let the air push your belly, moving your hand
- Breathe out through your lips, feel the belly sinking in.
- Repeat for about 10 times, notice how you feel at the end of the session
4. Emergency calls
In tough times, our brain chooses either fight or flight mode automatically. In critical events, it triggers us with extreme reactions, which may cause danger for yourself or for others. This may escalate into a mental health emergency, involving suicide threats, suicide attempts, threats to harm others and/or audio – visual hallucinations. As with any other medical emergency, this is life threatening.
If you are having a mental crisis, don’t wait until things get worse. Immediately reach out to a friend, family member, any loved one or a professional. Someone you can trust will relieve your mind off the crisis. The immediate step should be contacting your doctor or mental health provider, who have enough professional and medical resources to help you overcome the crisis. As a student, you can contact your school’s health services, local hospitals or hotlines.
5. Connect with Nature
Science has indicated that connecting with nature helps a lot in tough times. If your school is located in busy urban areas, the surroundings can make it difficult for you to concentrate, increasing fatigue and irritability. As human only has a limited amount of sustained concentration, this will negatively affect your efforts in going through a difficult time. By connecting with nature, your conscious brain rests better, which will replenish your power of attention.
Being in nature also boosts the benefits or other strategies for the crisis. For example, working out in the green will relieve your stress much faster than working out among a cement jungle.
Life has its ups and downs, and it’s inevitable that you will have tough times in life. Having a self-care to-do list, making your mental, emotional and physical well-being the number one priority and know to call out in emergencies will help you overcome them much easier. Emotional and mental crisis can be hard to deal with, so it’s best that you prevent such things from coming by strengthening your resilience and resources right now.
Have you ever failed a test? Did it make you devastated? Share with us in the comment!