Self-care on a student budget


What is self-care?

Self-care means taking care of yourself so that you are healthy and well and able to do all the things you need to do in a day, complete your course at university to the best of your ability, and help and care for others. Self-care is not selfish or indulgent, it's taking necessary steps to ensure you live a healthy and happy life.  

Cover the basics

While there are lots of ways to practice self-care, the simplest way is to start by getting the basics right. Have you had a glass of water recently? Have you eaten a proper meal today that is providing you with the nutrients you need? Did you get enough sleep? These things may seem obvious but when you're caught up in getting your latest assignment done, or are studying for exams, they are can often get overlooked. Make sure to take time out of your day to reflect on whether you've practiced the very basics of self-care.  

10 ideas for self-care without breaking the bank

You may have the basics down pat but are still keen to do more to help yourself relax and manage your mental wellbeing. Sometimes the idea of self-care can seem expensive, splashing out on beauty treatments or getting a fancy takeaway can be a bank breaker, which will only add to your stresses. Instead, think about taking up some of these budget friendly self-care activities:

1. Start journalling 

Journalling is a great method of self-care as it can be a useful tool for venting worries, feelings and fears that you may be uncomfortable sharing with others. It can also be a method of highlighting the things in your life that you're grateful for, or are happy about, so that when you're having a more difficult day you have a way of remembering these things.

2. Get your steps in

While going for a walk might seem too simple, sometimes getting your body moving and getting some fresh air can be exactly what you need to work through anything that might be bothering you. A walk somewhere scenic is a chance to clear your head while taking in some cool views. Check out Visit Wales' list of walks for ideas for your next adventure. 

3. Reconnect with family and friends

Moving to University it can be easy to get swept up in the uni bubble and lose track of those you've left at home. Take some time to reconnect with friends or family and check in on how they're doing. Talking to someone removed from your immediate situation can be the break you need and gives you a chance to revive old relationships.

4. Try downloading a meditation or mindfulness app

There are an abundance of options for apps to choose from with different approaches on meditation and mindfulness tasks. At USW, all students get premium access to the Fika app for free. Fika contains a wide range of exercises including help to stay mentally fit. Just download the app and use your university email to get started!

5. Unplug for an hour

Whether you're glued to your phone, a laptop or even a smartwatch, most of us are constantly connected to messaging and social media platforms. It can be exhausting to be constantly switched on all the time, responding the moment your phone lights up. Take a digital detox break once a day for an hour, switching off all notifications, and give yourself that sigh of relief. If you're not sure you have the willpower, try using Hold - an app that gives you discounts and incentives for not using your phone. 

6. Fall into fiction

You might be a film buff, book worm or tv fanatic but whatever category you fit in you probably love taking your mind off things with a little fiction. Whether your choice in fiction lies in the fantastical or the realistic, transporting off to another reality is the perfect opportunity for self-care. Organise a film night with friends, binge watch a new series together, or get snuggled up with a duvet and read something you can get lost in. 

7. Get creative

You may consider yourself a naturally creative person or you might be the type to think 'I can only draw stick people'. Whatever skill level you possess, there is a creative path or craft out there for you and getting stuck in to a new hobby can be a great way of improving your mental health while creating something tangible. You don't need to create a masterpiece, what you make is just for you. Drawing, knitting, or even making candles, can all be great ways of keeping your brain challenged and your mind engaged without it feeling like work.

8. Eat good food

Good food is good for the soul. Hearty homemade soups, curries, and casseroles are great ways to make yourself feel warm and cosy while being cheap and easy to make. Alternatively, try making a meal that reminds you of home to bring those creature comforts. If you're not all that comfortable in the kitchen, the Wellbeing Service run a series of Cookery Classes to give you tips and tricks on how to make a decent meal. 

9. Break a sweat

The link between exercise and good mental wellbeing is undeniable so what better way to undertake a little self-care than by getting in a workout. Try hitting the gym, doing a home workout or taking a class at USW FitZone. Getting your heart pumping is a great way to focus on strengthening your body and mind. 

10. Do something kind

Acts of kindness are a way to remove focus on internalised thoughts and direct your attention towards helping others. Whether its a simple random act such as checking in on a friend or introducing yourself to a more quiet member of your class, it can be rewarding for both you and the other person involved. If you feel like taking it a step further, consider volunteering with a charity or local organisation. USW Careers can help you find volunteering opportunities so you can feel better by giving back. 

Get extra support

If you find that you're struggling with your mental health, the Wellbeing Service is here for you. Book a Wellbeing Advice appointment with a Wellbeing Adviser and they can explore potential solutions with you to deal with any difficulties you're having. 

#unilife #Wellbeing