As the to-do lists keep getting longer and the calendars start filling up, mental health and general wellness seem to take a backseat. Being a compulsive perfectionist, I personally have succumbed to burnout and unnecessary stress on many occasions. Undoubtedly, it has become quite difficult to navigate being a student in times where the toxic lifestyle of all-nighters and skipped breakfast is glorified and deemed paramount to academic success. It becomes challenging to avoid comparing yourself to students with bigger workloads and harder degrees; as a result, one constantly denies themselves the empathy that they need. Study breaks become guilt trips, and “self-care” becomes a laughable concept. In fact, there’s a strong chance you’re reading this in the “five more minutes” of time you’ve given yourself before returning to your obligations.
If that seems to be a scarily accurate picture of you, or even if you fear it could be a visit from the Ghost of University Life to Come, then I invite you to join me on a road to self-compassion, in ways that are realistic (and inexpensive). Even though January is nearing a close, it isn’t too late to attempt a fresh start and a new perspective to your university career. In a series of small and achievable changes to your lifestyle, your endless pile of work will become a little more bearable, and that morning alarm a little less menacing. As with most things, the beginning of a lifestyle of self-compassion can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.
Don’t worry if you don’t see yourself making DIY face masks and meditating at five in the morning; sometimes self-care can be as simple as Facetiming your friends or making a throwback playlist to listen to as you work on your summatives in the middle of the night. In the chaos of deadlines, endless reading lists and irregular sleep patterns, it’s important to find opportunities to take a break and recharge. If you’re the kind of person who needs a constant reminder to be little nicer to yourself, remember that all you need do is one small step at a time.