6 Simple Self-Care Practices to Beat Study Stress

26 October 2021

Being a student is truly one of the most difficult jobs. Juggling studies, a busy social life, and filling most free moments with extracurriculars leads to chronic stress. Top that with upcoming exams and awaiting results for the term, and you can say hello to the potential of total burnout at a time when you need the most energy.

While students often sacrifice wellbeing to cram for exams, putting yourself first is one of the best things you can do when feeling stressed. Practicing self-care helps you to feel good, making it easier to stay focused, motivated, and tackle your studies with a clear mind. Here are six simple self-care practices to beat that inevitable study stress and boost your overall wellbeing.

Log out of social media.

Our phones are filled to the brim with apps like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Whatsapp. With every ‘like’ or new follower, we get little hits of dopamine that leave us wanting more, and before we know it, we’ve fallen into the trap of mindless scrolling. Social media is addictive. It tricks our brains into feeling connected, while in reality, it closes us off from seeking human connection in real life. No wonder we feel more isolated, lonely, stressed, and anxious when our heads are stuck in our phones! Log out, or delete the apps altogether, and find other healthier habits if you need a distraction from your studies.

Move your body.

The human body was designed to move. Studies have shown that inactivity is as bad for your health as smoking and can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and even cancer. Inactivity can make us feel mentally drained, too. Moving your body for 30 minutes a day can reduce dis-ease in the body, boost your immune system, increase energy, and release endorphins to combat stress. So hit the gym, if that’s your thing, turn on some music and have a dance party, or simply go for a walk in nature to get that energy flowing.

Drink 2-3 litres of clean water each day.

Water is one of the few things humans need to survive. On average, an adult should drink between two and three litres of clean water each day to prevent dehydration. If you’re dehydrated, your body can’t operate properly. You’ll feel fatigued, have lower energy, and studying will feel more difficult. Staying hydrated is simple, but when you’re caught up in studying, it’s easy to neglect your most basic needs. So keep a reusable water bottle with you throughout the day, or schedule your water intake into your daily routine to ensure you’re staying hydrated.

Ground yourself.

It’s common to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and even exhausted when you’re in the height of exams, but those anxious feelings can make studying a pain. When you feel this way, it’s essential to get out of your head and into your body. This could be as simple as getting outside and putting your bare feet on the ground, or looking up at the sky to give your eyes a rest from constant computer screens. Take some deep breaths to bring you back to the present moment, or make a list of three things you’re grateful for. If it’s difficult to do on your own, apps like Headspace and Calm can guide you through grounding meditations to get you out of your head and back into your body.

Spend study breaks with friends.

Humans are social creatures. We’re born into social groups and live our lives as part of a society. Sending time with other humans – especially the ones we like – generates dopamine and other “feel good” hormones which have a direct effect on physical and mental wellbeing. Social connection is one of the best ways to combat stress. When you’re in need of a study break, reach out to family, friends, roommates, or classmates. Give them a phone call to check in and debrief on your studies, or even better - grab lunch and do something fun together!

Do something you love, guilt-free.

Self-care means caring for your basic needs – eating the right foods, staying hydrated, making healthy choices – but it also means caring and nurturing your mind, body, and soul. Too often we deprive ourselves of pleasure, yet pleasure combats stress and boosts our mood and immune system. Make a habit of treating yourself to pleasure, no matter how big or small – perhaps it’s as simple as playing a video game, cooking something yummy, or cuddling your pet (or a friend’s). What brings a smile to your face? What fills you with joy? Do more of that.

Feeling stressed and wanting more guidance? Reach out to the Student Advice team and book an appointment to get on top of your self-care and beat study stress.