Looking through the archives of my blog (and oh how embarrassing that has been) I wondered if I’d written any posts on self care. It’s an important topic to discuss given the imminent descent into exam season but regardless of any academic or work demands, self care is important all year round. An evening in to read a non-academic text or even just painting your nails is a welcome form of self care, not procrastination. There are ways that we may think we’re taking part in self care but really it is just damaging for when we do actually do work (*cough* phone *cough*).
So the first message is DON’T go on your phone in you self care breaks. As easy as it may seem to turn to your phone to update yourself on the lives of others and scroll through Instagram or even look at new clothes to buy on Depop, it can seem like time wasted. It might not be, in essence, but I find when I go on my phone in my revision break my brain is foggy with things that I’ve read or photos I’ve seen and while I think I’ve spent a minute or two on Instagram in reality I’ve spent about 20. Refreshing my Instagram feed does not leave me feeling refreshed at all. This goes for websites like Twitter and Youtube as well. I’ve started using the self control extension on Chrome which is kind of like the Forest app but you can set it for more than two hours. Not even Twitter can get in the way of a technology free break. More often than not I go online to end up feeling dejected by something. Not a good headspace to revise in. Save the phone for evenings, you never know; the attachment may wither.
Planning time for self care. It may sound silly but if I don’t schedule ‘paint my nails’ or ‘have a face mask’ into my day then I’m very unlikely to do either. In fact, my revision breaks need to have some level of structure to them otherwise alas, I shall turn to my phone. Whether that is a walk, or yoga, or 30 minutes reading a non academic book I kind of have to plan it. But it keeps me somewhat focused and I still do retain an element of spontaneity towards going out with friends/family/knowing when to stop working.
Now, Netflix and Youtube is a tricky one because it kind of goes against the idea of the ‘no social media’ in breaks rule (if you count Netlflix and Youtube as a social media that is) but I think it is a really good self care activity and if you put your phone aside when you’re watching it then, for some, it is the perfect way to relax. I would highly recommend Sex Education on Netflix if you haven’t already been consumed by the ‘set in Wales, American style’ high school vibe. It’s fab and completely unrelated to studying despite being set in a Sixth Form. I felt like I was really switching off. Sometimes I like to do things like wash my makeup brushes and do the whole ‘take care of myself’ routine when I’m watching either, if I really want to maximise the whole productivity thing.
Something important to mention, although not necessarily thought of with regards to self care is when you take your breaks and what you do in them depending on the time of day. Naturally, in between revision you might take an hour break to read a book or do yoga but I find that if I start writing a blog post in one of these breaks my brain simply can’t hack the idea of writing more words. I’d consequently be sat with a blank WordPress document. I prefer to write blog posts (funny one considering I haven’t written one in nearly three weeks) in the evenings when I wan’t to be productive but am really not tempted by the idea of looking at another Measure for Measure essay. The same goes for tidying my room, I just prefer to do it in the evenings with Youtube on the background as some proper down-time. Again, likewise for watching Netflix. No more revision for the day and just some personal down time. I’ve also started writing in a notebook either first thing in the morning or the last thing at night, not every night because I cannot commit to that, but it has proved to be very cathartic and almost freeing.
Change location. When reading Katie’s post about studying, change of location is important !!! Not just when you’re studying but the decisive places between studying and not studying. It separates the academic from the everyday and I try to find different locations in the house to work to stop myself going crazy at my desk. Then when I come back to my room it’s like a breath of fresh air. Find your space that puts your mind at ease. For me it’s my bed because: a) sleep is fundamental for self care and b) I like to sit and read in the evening or sit and write a blog post.
Following on from the change of space, learn when evenings in may be more beneficial then evenings out. I went clubbing for the first time last night, it was great. I couldn’t do it every weekend; my studies couldn’t handle it but nor could my general wellbeing I don’t think. Some nights I really just like sitting with a good book and some comfort food. I think especially around exam season it is important to know what kind of self care break you need, go out for the night with friends or invite them round for pizza? Just have a catch up in a café over coffee or spend the evening having a sort out and making plans. Having plans to look forward to is also a great form of implicit self care, you’re not always aware of it but having something to look forward to is motivation like no other.
The idea of ‘procrastinating productively’ and ‘self care’ can be very much intertwined but if you know you’ve been putting work of then it is probably the former. My biggest self care flaw is my phone. I find when I’m at college it’s fine because my frees are only 55 minutes and I don’t find myself having the urge to go and look at what people are going because we’re all in the same routine of college/school/university. Now to practice what I preach in the self care department.
What are the ways that you commit to time for self care?
lots of love, eleanor xx