Credit: Max van den Oetelaar via Unsplash

Making self-care work for you

By Katrina Williams

In the first installment of our self-care series, Katrina Williams discusses why self-care days aren’t always realistic.

Let’s cut to the chase: university students barely have any time to spare outside of lectures, homework, societies, part-time work and (arguably most importantly) late-night benders. Thus, the miraculous, idealised, oh-so-dreamy concept of taking a full day off for self-care is made completely unattainable. I can’t pamper myself by taking an afternoon-long bubble-bath while enjoying a chilled bottle of pinot noir; the only bath in my flat is part of my flatmate’s domain, and there’s no way I could afford the wine on my strict SAAS budget. There’s no sudden weekend break to a fancy-schmancy European destination on the cards, either, unless I strike gold and win some sort of all-expenses-paid holiday. I simply do not have the cash nor the time to spend treating myself, at least not for day-long stretches.

Realistically, I’m not sure if taking a full day off for the sole purpose of self-care would even work for me. I have the short-term memory of a goldfish and the object permanence of an infant, meaning that my various experimentations with taking full days for self-care have simply become exercises in hardcore procrastination – I’ll turn off my email notifications, ignore my dishes, order a takeaway, and laze out in bed watching TikTok after TikTok … then wake up out of a week-long stupor with five assignments due the next day wondering what the hell happened.

I’ve always struggled with finding enough motivation to start pretty much anything, even when it’s something I enjoy. As a result, I have to instead be strict about self-discipline. If left unchecked, I tend to become a complete lazy sod, which means that self-care must come in short, sweet doses.

My first port of call is picking up on things to make my day-to-day life easier. I’m not the best cook, and I don’t often have time to experiment in the kitchen, so I’ll pick up a quick, microwaveable dinner from the supermarket to make those late-night study sessions a little shorter. When I find I do have both the time and the motivation, I’ll do my best to get through any dishes piling up or clean a part of my room or bathroom so that it doesn’t reach an unsalvageable point later on when I have all my final essays due, and the crushing weight of my own futility is keeping me chained to my bed.

Secondly, I try to make time every day where I can relax and recuperate without restrictions. Usually, this amounts to a couple of hours with my friends getting stuck into a video game. Most importantly, I avoid the draw of using those hours to be productive in any way possible. Too often we misconstrue side hustles as hobbies, which completely derails any fun we’re supposed to have when doing them.If you’re anything like me – pointedly single-minded, ditzy, and overly susceptible to temptation – perhaps my self-care tips and tricks might help you, too. Carve out moments in the day-to-day rather than scrambling to timetable a full day off, from which you return immediately to the gruel of your regular schedule. Knowing that at some point today I’ll have a moment to chill out gives me the motivation to get on with more pressing tasks – such as finishing this article!


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