Counselling corner – what does self care for students look like?

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Counselling Corner articles feature tips from George Brown College counsellors. In this post we hear from Counsellor Aarti Dhanda. 

Midterms, papers, presentations and exams are all part of college life.  –

We know it can be overwhelming. And it doesn't help that people keep telling you to take it easy and practice some self-care. What does that even mean? And how much of your already packed schedule do you need to dedicate to self-care for it to count? 

It's not as hard as you think. Take a couple of deep breaths and read the tips below. If none of these work for you, that's ok. There are a lot of online resources about what you can do for self-care. And remember, intersession week provides time to relax and recharge. 

Physical self care

You don't have to do all of these, but pick a few to try for a while and stick to them to create some healthy habits: 

  • Go to bed 15 - 30 minutes earlier. Even a little more sleep helps 
  • A banana before bed increases sleep
  • On break from class? Stretching is both exercise and relaxing. Try these stretches for computer users (courtesy University of California, Berkley)
  • Focus on proper nutrition and limit sugar and caffeine
  • Drink lots of water
  • Walk or bike to class instead of driving or taking the bus
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Practice good hygiene
  • Progressive muscle relaxation can reduce stress
  • Limit your alcohol intake. It affects your sleep.

Social self care

Depending on your schedule, some of these may not be doable right now. But they could be something you plan for in the future. 

  • Call or visit a family member or friend
  • Join fun student organizations to make new friends
  • Sign up for a study group to make learning social
  • Grab a meal with a fellow student
  • Catch up with your roommates
  • Make shopping or exercise a group activity

Mental self care

These are very important and approaching these with curiosity and patience is key. It will take time and you can try out the list (not all at once) between now and the end of the semester. We’re sure  you will notice a difference in how you feel. 

  • Reward your hard work, with one manageable fun activity
  • Pet therapy is very real. Spend time with animals.
  • Take breaks when studying
  • Reflect on small successes you are proud of or grateful for
  • Study slowly over a period of time instead of cramming
  • Remember that you can say no without guilt if a request is genuinely too taxing
  • Smile
  • Keep a journal
  • Download apps that can help shift your mood. Check out 10 mental health apps useful for college students
  • Watch funny movies, television shows, or video clips for a quick laugh
  • Ask for help if you need it