A University Student’s Guide to Self-Care

Are you struggling to pay attention during lectures? Tired? Overwhelmed? Do you find yourself counting down the days until mid-year break?

This is a guide to taking care of yourself while you’re studying at university, so you can get the most out of this experience without having to sacrifice your wellbeing.

Take care of your body
Never underestimate how important it is to make sure that you’re functioning. Your study commitments shouldn’t take priority over getting enough sleep, food and physical activity.

Without sleep, you’ll have difficulty concentrating and retaining information that you’ve learned. Pulling an all-nighter doesn’t make sense because you’ll be working inefficiently. Repeat after me: coffee or energy drinks aren’t a substitute for sleep!

Please remember to eat regularly, especially during exam period. You’re at a greater risk of getting sick if you don’t meet your nutritional needs. Money-poor students can visit the Student Union office for a food package, no questions asked. Time-poor students can rely on the academic tradition of microwaved baked beans and packet noodles, or arrange to have dinner with a friend once in a while.

Take breaks
Sometimes the best thing to do when you’re stressed is take a step back.

We’ve all been there before: reading the same sentence over and over again, trying to work on an assignment when the words just aren’t coming to mind, getting frustrated with our own lack of progress.

Take a short break and get some fresh air. Half an hour thinking about something other than what’s stressing you out can change your perspective. Stress can make a molehill look like a mountain! When you come back to that work that seemed an equivalent feat to climbing Mount Everest, you might find it’s actually a hill that’s not so difficult to surmount.

Make time for what you enjoy
Here’s a short list of things that you might enjoy:
– Taking advantage of your Netflix subscription
– Learning a new skill, such as knitting or playing guitar
– Listening to music
– Painting your nails (cost-effective fun!)
– Taking a walk (doubles as exercise!)
– Reading a book or magazine (Rabelais counts, you’re doing it already!)

It’s important to achieve a balance between your obligations and time for yourself.

It’s okay to ask for extensions
Your tutors actually want you to pass the class! It can be easier to approach them for an extension on an assignment now, rather than worry about it closer to the deadline. If you think that you’re going to struggle to hand work in on time, please meet your tutors and discuss your situation with them so they can give you an extension if it’s necessary.

Talk to someone if you’re doing it tough
La Trobe University has great support services for students. Take advantage of the food bank, accessible through the Student Union office. Familiarise yourself with the rooms on campus specifically designated for women, queer-identifying and mature aged students.

Counselling Services can be found on campus. They offer free sessions where you can disclose as much information as you feel comfortable, and discuss what’s going on with an impartial third party.

There are dozens of clubs and societies which you can join at any time during the year, to meet other people who share your interests. You can find out more about them by asking at the Student Union office, or going to the website: www.latrobesu.org.au/clubs

Just talking to someone on the phone can help make things easier. Many organisations offer 24/7 anonymous support through their hotlines.
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Kids Helpline, for people under 25 years old: 1800 55 1800

You are worth more than your grades
Imagine that you had to describe yourself in ten words or less. You wouldn’t just say ‘I’m a university student’ and leave it there, right?

If you don’t get the grades you hoped for when the end of semester comes around, please remember that they don’t measure ‘you’ in your entirety. Ten words couldn’t do you justice! You’re an amazing, complex individual with your own needs and desires.

Self-care is all about recognising that your needs should be met. Hopefully, this guide has given you a better idea of how to take care of yourself while you’re here at university.

By Emma Soeters

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