5 Self Care Tips I Wish I Practiced During School

By: Monica Kwong

We all know how stressful school can be, especially with exam season approaching. School is a good time to explore different self-care techniques and see which ones suit you and your schedule best. The five tips I have listed are ones I wish I had either practiced during school or practiced more frequently. I try to aim for self-care tips that engage your mind, body and senses so that the sense of fulfillment you feel is greater after the activity

Yoga

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When I was young (and foolish), I wondered why and how people enjoy yoga… It all seemed too slow and boring for me. However, after growing up a bit, I now see just how much yoga can positively impact one’s lifestyle as it did mine, especially after experiencing intense back pains last year.

Some benefits you can reap from doing yoga include:

  • Improving sleep (also important for self-care!)
  • Improving cognition and focus
  • Boosting mood
  • Increasing energy levels
  • Lowering stress and anxiety levels

If you’re on a crunch for time, your yoga practice can be as short as 10 minutes! Some of my favourite yoga YouTubers include:

Meditation

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When I was younger, I didn’t really understand this practice much either. However, after graduation, I’ve been trying to meditate more regularly. Since then, there’s never been a time when I’ve regretted doing meditation. If you’re a beginner (like me!), even practising for 3-5 minutes is a good place to start.

Some benefits you can reap from meditation include:

  • Lowering stress levels
  • Helping manage anxiety
  • Promoting self-awareness
  • Increasing attention span
  • Improving sleep

For beginners, I would recommend starting off with:

  • Searching on YouTube for guided meditation
  • Using an app called Insight Timer: I like using the self-timer feature to choose the background sound, keep track of my frequency, and access a library of free guided meditations. I also like how it shows how many people are meditating in real-time on the app (it helps show that you are not alone on your meditation journey!)

Journaling

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I’ve honestly been journaling since I was about ten years old, but it has been an on-and-off routine for me during my younger years. I’d write about my crushes, my school day and how I hated doing homework. Fun times…

You can journal on your phone or write in a notebook. I personally like to journal via writing because I feel more in touch with my thoughts. I find that journaling helps me brain dump everything on my mind. 

I also find that it helps make my problems feel smaller than they appear in my head. When you write your problems down, it’s as if you’re looking at them as a bystander. Journaling also allows you to vent to someone if you happen to not have a friend or family member around immediately. 

Some benefits you can reap from journaling include:

  • Helping manage anxiety
  • Helping manage depression
  • Lowering stress levels

There is no wrong way of keeping a journal. Almost all of my notebooks were bought from the dollar store, so no need to purchase anything luxurious (unless you would like to, of course). However, if you don’t feel like writing, you can also use a mood tracking app, such as Daylio, and press buttons that allow you to record your mood, activities, and thoughts for each day. You can also trend the information you enter and review them as reports!

Your journal entries don’t need to be long! As long as you are satisfied with what you’ve written down and it’s helped you, you’ve achieved your goal.

Practicing a hobby

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When I was in school, I neglected some of my hobbies and used the excuse that I didn’t have time. However, I’m sure if I had spent less, mindless time on my screen and allocated those hours for high-density fun instead, then I definitely would’ve had more time to indulge in my hobbies.

Some benefits you can reap from practising your hobby include:

  • Relaxing your mind and body
  • Providing a sense of mastery and control
  • Increasing self-esteem
  • Expanding your social circle

It’s a good thing to practice a hobby from time to time so that your school life doesn’t become mundane and you have something to look forward to. Whether it’s reading or drawing, dancing or woodwork, spending one to two hours a week on your hobby will enrich your life.

Registered Massage Therapy

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I used to think massages were very expensive and that only wealthy people could afford them. However, ever since I had intense back pains last year, I would swear by massage therapy as a way to relieve my muscle tension and relax my mind.

Some benefits you can reap from receiving massage therapy include:

  • Relieving stress
  • Relaxing your mind and body
  • Reducing muscle soreness and tension (even areas where you may not know are tight!)
  • Promoting circulation, energy, and alertness

Out of the other options, this one may not be the most easily accessible, as this is the only option you can’t do at home (depending on your hobby). However, there are two avenues you can try:

  • Attend at the RAC: Did you know that if you are a degree program student, you are eligible for a $15 discount for each session? I wish I knew that ahead of time… In addition, if you are a full-time student and are covered by the RSU Health Plan, you are eligible to have $25 covered per treatment up to 20 treatments per school year. 
  • Utilize the health plan that your parents/caregivers have from their employer and visit a clinic. Depending on your coverage, your massage sessions can be free up to a capped amount allotted in the plan. Definitely utilize it if you can, or you’re missing out!

At the RAC, with the student discount, your sessions can cost $50-$85 for a session that ranges from 30 – 60 minutes. I find that if you don’t require significant medical treatment, one session a month is sufficient. Of course, everyone is different, so the desired duration may vary, but give it a try! I’m 90% sure you won’t regret it. After all, we all spend money on food, leisure and entertainment. Why not allocate some of that money for self-care?