The vitality of self-care

By: Emily Maybanks

“It’s not selfish to love yourself; to take care of yourself; and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.”

From 13th until 19th November 2017, it is self-care week. Self-care refers to the actions we undertake to look after ourselves whether that is physically, emotionally or mentally. It incorporates the essential acts of care that we all need to focus on, including eating well and getting enough sleep. Additionally, and perhaps, most importantly, self-care is what nourishes us personally; it is the things we do that comfort us, calm us, and make us feel good. These things are unique to everyone.

Why is self-care so important? Well, firstly, it is good for our health. It can also positively impact on our emotional wellness and remind us that we are worthy. By prioritising self-care – taking time out to do something just for us – we counter any negative thoughts that we might be experiencing and we prove to ourselves that we are worthy of attention and care.

Acts of self-care start from the most simple, basic tasks. Drinking enough water is a great one to start with, followed closely by eating well. I think – as students – this is something that often gets forgotten about and we’re probably all guilty of just ‘grabbing something quick to eat’ from the shop or elsewhere even though it might not necessarily be the healthiest choice. Even taking time to cook a nice meal can be a good act of self-care. Getting enough sleep is also a key to self-care. Again, as students, with weird body clocks and heading on nights out, we probably forget that it is important to get a good night’s sleep from time to time. However, getting a good night’s sleep can just be as simple as switching off from technology at a certain time each night and doing something relaxing before going to bed. I have this routine which I aim to do every other night where I spend an hour before going to bed writing whatever comes to my mind down on a piece of paper. I don’t know why, but it helps me go to bed feeling a little less stressed. Getting creative as a means of self-care is another good idea. This can be anything from painting or drawing to singing, cooking – anything. I just like to write, personally. And sometimes, sing – terribly.  Activities like these are beneficial for our wellbeing because they bring us into the present moment, increase feel-good chemicals in our brain, and provide us with a sense of achievement. Cleaning and decluttering are good means of self-care and this can be anything from tidying your room or cleaning the kitchen to deleting emails and Facebook friends (we’ve all done the latter, right?)! Finally, simply resting is a fantastic way to self-care. Watching some television after a busy day to unwind, for example, is a good idea. To embarrass myself further; after a recent rough day, I spent my evening watching a poor-quality YouTube video of one of my favourite musicals – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. I unashamedly had a proper sing-along to it as well. But, it made me feel relaxed and it made me smile.

I think that we can all sometimes get so caught up in the hectic, exciting, yet overwhelming University experience that we forget to self-care. Taking time out for ourselves is necessary to live a fulfilled life. Furthermore, if we all start practicing great self-care techniques now, we can carry these through the rest of our lives, and as the theme of this year’s self-care week is embracing self-care for life, why not begin right now?

“Be kind; be patient; be generous; be accepting. Be all of these things to yourself. That is where it all begins.”


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