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By Leah Richardson

As part of UWE’s “Feel Good February”, Hub Voice writer Leah Richardson gives us 10 ways you can look after yourself more.

So, it has got to that time of year where morale is at an all-time low and self-care is seriously neglected. So why is it that during winter we neglect ourselves the most? Why don’t we stop taking time out of our day to journal? To paint our nails? Or even to run ourselves a bath? Why do we continuously strip ourselves of the things that we love the most? Why? Because for many of us we lead busy lives, right? It is sometimes incredibly hard to take a simple 30 minutes out of our day to run ourselves a bath, when we could be in and out of the shower in 10. We assume that we are saving ourselves those vital extra 20 minutes that could be better spent elsewhere? Wrong. By not allowing ourselves time to wind down and have “me” time, we are ultimately contributing to self-neglect.

Now, hold on all is not lost here, we still have time to make amends. Starting with making time for ourselves, and when I say, “make time”, this can be anything from spending the afternoon de-cluttering your bedroom/work space to taking a brisk walk and being at “one” with nature…

So here are 10 ways that you can start to look after yourself more!

  1. Declutter your life

This can be in the form of decluttering junk from your desktops, throwing away old clothes that you have no use for anymore or even cutting off toxic friendships/relationships! Getting rid of unnecessary objects or people from your life makes room for new objects and new friendships/relationships that might serve you better.

  1. Saying “No”

Maybe you’ve been forced into going out with your new course mates?  Did you politely agree when you actually didn’t want to go? It is so important to put yourself first and say “no” straight off the bat if you don’t want to go out, everyone needs time to themselves. If you are trying to practice self-care and feel good this February, then you need to learn how to say “no”. I think one of the main problems at university is that many of you have only just settled in so you’re still trying to “find your feet”. Plus, you’re lumbered with the struggles of moving away from home and being pushed out into the big wide world by yourselves. Some of you may want to impress your peers and be well-liked, this is fine, but you should feel comfortable enough to say no to things without worrying about what the other people may think of you for not going.

Remember to be polite when you drop the news to your housemates, try not to be rude and just explain that you need some time to themselves and I am sure they will understand!

  1. Meditate, Meditate, Meditate!

I cannot praise this practice any higher and you don’t have to be religious in the slightest to meditate. All that it involves is taking time out to sit in complete stillness and practice your breathing techniques. Before I got into meditation I didn’t think that much of it and didn’t believe that it could play a vital part in altering my mindset, but it really has! I currently use an app called “Calm” which is on the app store and its super easy to follow along.

Recently I have used meditation a lot to help me de-stress and feel less anxious about my deadlines, also it has allowed me to feel more grounded and appreciative with my life. If you are generally speaking a negative/pessimistic person then meditation is something that you definitely need to try, it will allow for clarity and increased self-care.

  1. Unwind & take me” time

What would be the point in practicing self-care routines if you didn’t take the crucial time out to tend to yourself and unwind with your favourite film and a bar of Cadburys at hand? You don’t have to spend hundreds on beauty treatments, I mean we are students after all! But by all means treat yourselves and don’t be afraid to, you deserve it and I mean you really do. University can be an incredibly stressful environment with ever looming deadlines at the end of every corner. Sometimes it can feel like they are never ending but just try to remember that everyone else is in the same boat as you are and you shouldn’t work yourself up about things that in a few years will no longer be important.

Please don’t neglect yourselves and please look after yourselves!

  1. Social media detox

Switching off from social media is also a vital part of “self-care”. This can be anything from simply turning your phone off for an hour to going complete cold turkey and deleting Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat for a few days. It is so easy to get sucked into the likes of Facebook and Instagram and before you know it you are actively going out of your way to stalk Instagram models you even don’t know; whilst wishing that their lives were yours! Now, now everyone I know that we’re all guilty of doing it? I mean don’t even try denying it because I will know that you’re all lying! So, I propose that we all give our phones a good old rest for a few days and limit our time on social media, then after these few days ask yourselves these questions “How do I feel?” “Do I feel good? Do I feel happier?”. If you answered yes to all the above then my social media detox plan worked!

  1. Read more

We could all benefit from reading more this month, whether that is a small poetry book to a 500-page novel. It doesn’t matter what it is, everyone has different abilities and works at different paces so just do what is best for you.

  1. Eat cleaner

This goes hand-in-hand with self-care, but in this case I mean looking after your body, monitoring what you put in it and exercising regularly. By all means I am no saint when it comes to eating well, in fact I really do think that this will be hard for me to implement. Because it is also my birthday month (which means loads of cake), I am also quite bad at maintaining a balanced diet. But hey, what works for me may not work for you, so by all means try eating healthier and see if it benefits you.

  1. Sleep, Sleep, Sleep!

Who’s guilty of not getting enough sleep at night and has to take naps during the day? Come on, own up. We all do it, who says to themselves “This is the last episode that I will watch on Netflix” and how many of us are actually telling the truth? See.

At university it is a lot harder to get a good 7-8hours sleep at night, maybe you’re up late doing an assignment that is due tomorrow that you should have started months ago? Or maybe you’re out partying with your housemates until 6am? Either way you need to allocate yourself more time to sleep. Napping in the afternoon is a temporary solution but definitely not a permanent one, switching off from social media can also help with sleeping more!

  1. Compliment yourself

Self-care routines would be nothing without gratitude, love and patience. You need to understand that this is a process and you should take it day by day rather than week by week. Do you look nice today? Have you tried out a new hairstyle that looks cute? Then tell yourself. Just as you would tell a friend that they look “nice”, do the same to yourself. Complimenting yourself more will build on your inner self-esteem and confidence, it can even impact on how our day goes because if we are not feeling secure and confident in ourselves then we cannot take on the day with such ease.

10. Be more grateful

Show gratitude more and be grateful for what you have right now. Sometimes it is easy to overlook things and dismiss just how lucky we actually are. Instead we compare ourselves to other people and want what we cannot have. This is a dangerous game because the more we idolise our peers the more our envy for them grows stronger. So maybe you want to be thinner? Or more intelligent? Or a more likeable? So, what? Just be happy that your health is intact, that you have loving friends and family who genuinely care about your well-being, and that you have eyes that allow you to read this article.

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