Sunday, 14 January 2018

Self Care in the Exam Season // Self Care 101

When I was thinking about my self-care 101 series, my first thought was 'how can I approach this as a student?' because if there's one thing I know about the students around me, it's that they tend to neglect their self-care in favour of long nights, late mornings, and convenient foods. I know, I'm just as guilty for these as the next person. Yes, I'm a bit of a hypocrite! However, recently I've pulled myself together somewhat so I'm going to share what I can and what has helped me!

Self-care for the body

Self-care for the body is probably the easiest to implement because you can start small and build little self-care habits into a self-care routine. When working on exams, it is easy to forget to take care of yourself but there are a few habits you can implement to get back on track!

Eating habits can be completely transformed by stress and busy study schedules. This is different for everybody! I personally stress eat loads during exam season and my weight, which already fluctuates regularly, can actually change dramatically. However, I have friends on the opposite side of this spectrum who regularly forget to eat when they are stressed! By checking in with your eating habits and trying to keep track of these stress-related changes, you can benefit your body! When I stress eat loads, I feel full and sleepy and unable to focus. When I reign it in, I feel way better about myself, less groggy, and more ready to tackle my revision. If you have underlying issues with your eating which may be triggered or worsened by exam stress, make sure you ask someone who you trust to check in with you and help you to keep on track!

Skincare is a super easy way to implement a bit of self-care. This can be as expensive or cheap as you fancy! Some of my favourite products are super cheap and cheerful! You could focus on a facial skin care routine and make time for that every day, which takes you away from your work and makes you focus just on yourself. Or, you could rub some lotion on your legs and arms every once in a while to nourish your skin and surround yourself with wonderful scents. On the go, you could carry around a nice smelling hand cream and use it every once in a while as a small gesture of self-care. The list is endless!

Now, I know this one isn't for everyone (not even for me) but exercise can be a good way to release a bit of stress and make a little time for yourself. This doesn't have to be intensive exercise! You could just walk about for while or do a bit of yoga (my fave). The point is, you're taking time away from your desk, moving about a bit and not just remaining seated in the same place! I like to get out of the house and go for a quick walk with a friend, but there are many ways of exercising such as swimming, going to the gym, going for a run, etc. and different people enjoy different forms of exercise so it's up to you, really.

Treat yo self! End of a hard day? Maybe take a bath, watch some Netflix and recharge your mental batteries for a while! Maybe throw in a bath bomb or some nice bubble bath. Maybe just have a shower if that's what you prefer. Face masks are great for your skin and a good little treat, or maybe a hair mask! Maybe set aside an afternoon or evening to pamper your body after all the stress and work as a reward!

Self-care for the mind

Take a step back
Allow yourself to rest. If you are cramming information into your head 24/7 you will wear yourself out and may even end up worse for it when it comes to your actual exams! By taking regular breaks and limiting the amount of time you have to study, you allow your mind to rest and actually process the information you just took in!

Focus on something else
If you have a hobby, make time for it. If you play an instrument, spend some time playing it. If you enjoy writing, do some brainstorming and put pen to paper for something other than studying. It will benefit your mindset greatly and stop you from feeling like revision is all that matters! If you don't have a specific hobby, do some reading or watch a film. It's about balance, don't just drop everything for studying! Do what you enjoy too!

Rest and sleep
I cannot emphasise how important rest and sleep is enough! All-nighters are not a good idea at all when revising, don't do it! Not only will lack of sleep leave you feeling fatigued and sluggish when revising and studying, sleep is also involved in memory and the processing what you have learned. When choosing between staying up super late and going to sleep, choose the latter option! Trust me!

Self-care for the soul

I know this isn't for everyone, but mindfulness is an extremely powerful tool to combat stress! You can get apps such as Headspace, Calm or Oak for free and set aside a bit of your day to put in some mindfulness practice. If it works for you, you could end up feeling calmer, less anxious, rested and more ready to continue with your studying. Mindfulness is also supposed to benefit focus too, which can serve you well in exam season!

Digital breaks
A lot of the time, your revision may involve typing up notes, looking at lecture slides and using study sites. This is great and can really aid in learning but it's important to take a step back from the screen and give your eyes and mind a rest! Maybe instead of hopping onto social media or browsing in your breaks, find something to do offscreen and offline! Maybe read, rest your eyes, take a walk or cook something nice!

Cosy and calm
When studying, it's important to be in an environment where you are comfortable. You can take it a step further and get super cosy! Particularly for winter exams! Maybe wrap yourself in a soft blanket, sip a hot drink and wear some fluffy socks while revising. Maybe sit near a radiator or fire, throw on a big sweater and eat something a bit indulgent. You can treat yourself whilst also getting work done! Calm is also important. You don't want to revise in a stressful environment. Calm music, a quiet atmosphere and some nice solitude can really help you to knuckle down and put the work in. However, if you are a little more extroverted and feel less worked-up when you have a bit of company, it may help you to get a study buddy or sit somewhere pleasantly bustling!

If exam stress gets too much

  • Chat to an academic advisor/tutor
  • Check out the counselling services provided by your school/college/uni
  • Talk to the other people on your course. The chances are that they feel similarly to you and you can support each other
  • Check out more tips over on Student Minds

Good luck to everyone studying for exams! I hope that you found this post helpful! Thank you so much for reading!


Follow Me @jessistryingblog