Self-Care and You!
With the end of the semester fast approaching, I’m sure we’re all feeling the pressure. Exams, projects, papers… so many things to take care of and not enough time! But in times like these, in school as in all areas of life (especially in the game dev industry), it’s important to remember to find the time to take care of the most /important aspect of your life—you!
But how do we practice good self-care? Self-care isn’t just about taking care of yourself physically, but mentally as well. Stress takes its toll, but it hits hardest on the mind. By taking the time to relieve your mental stressors, you should be able to have an easier time of relieving your physical stress as well. Below, we’ve listed a few easy ways that you can use to start practicing self-care!
“You are what you eat,” so the saying goes. Your diet is one of the most important aspects of your health. Sure, it seems both tempting and time-saving to grab junk food to binge on while you’re busy. And most of us will have some memory of stress-eating our favourite comfort food. And while everything may be good in moderation, but when it comes to your health this is an area you do not want to compromise on.
Now everyone has different dietary needs, so be aware of your own needs and consult with a doctor about your nutrition. That said, there are some general advice to keep in mind.
- Avoid sugars. It is essentially universally agreed that sugars are bad for you, and for good reason. They can disrupt your sleep cycle, weakens your immune system, increases stress, and can contribute to obesity. Sugars interfere with and replace many of the nutrients and vitamins in your system, and can have substantial effects on your health. Avoid things like sugary drinks like pop, candy, and heavy carbs.
- Load up on veggies. As opposed to pretty much every other kind of food, you can essentially eat as many veggies as you want. The greener the better. Vegetables are full of important vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, and can even help keep you hydrated with their water content. Find a kind you like and start snacking! Just be sure to avoid dips, though. These will negate a lot of the good you do.
- Try alternative protein sources. Most people will enjoy a good steak every so often, but even meat can have negative effects when taken to excess. Eating that entire meat lovers’ pizza is not a good idea (try adding some veggies!). Instead, try things like eggs, peanut butter, or soy products.
- Eat regular meals. It can be really convenient to just go to the cupboard and grab a snack whenever you start feeling hungry, but this is a bad habit to build. It makes it all the more easy to overeat, especially considering most snack food is full of sugars, salts, and fat. Instead, plan out your meals, give yourself time to prep, and give a shot at making a delicious and nutritious home-cooked meal. Who knows, you might even find a fun new hobby in it.
Ever have those “blah” days where you wake up and you’re already tired? You know what I’m talking about. Those days where you just can’t bring yourself to care about getting anything done. Mental and physical fatigue is one of catch-all symptoms of too much stress all at once; your body’s way of telling you that you’re pushing yourself too hard. When you feel yourself getting dragged down by fatigue, do yourself a favour by hopping in the shower!
Having a shower is a quick and easy way to get fresh and refresh yourself before getting back to the grind. Feeling particularly indulgent? Take a bath instead! (Just sayin’, bath bombs are the bomb).
Like any good machine, we need to maintain our bodies, and in the world of physiology, that tune-up is called exercise. It helps prevent muscular atrophy, maintains the cardiovascular system, and tires out the body to prepare for a healthy sleep. Even if it’s as little as going for a walk, doing a few pushups, or jumping rope, try to at least get something in. Remember to stretch, pace yourself, breathe steadily, and keep well hydrated.
Although we do not necessarily always think of it this way, sleep is one of the most important factors in our health that there is. It can have some pretty extreme effects on both your physical and your mental health. A good night’s sleep boosts the immune system, helps heal physical wounds, reduces stress, and can boost your mood. Try to follow these steps to getting a healthy sleep!
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep. The human body needs its rest to recover from the previous day and prepare for the next. Getting too little sleep can lead to mental fatigue, irritable mood, and a weakened body. Sleeping too long, though, can also have negative effects. Find your sweet spot.
- Set a sleep schedule. Our bodies like keeping rhythms. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day. This helps keep your internal clock set, and makes it easier to get up and to go to bed.
- Set up a good sleep environment. Where you sleep can have just as big an effect as when you sleep. The best set-up is a dark room, with a comfortable mattress and pillow if you can stretch it, as a cool room. The last point may seem counterintuitive, as we tend to think of cozy blankets when we think of sleep, but a room on the cooler side helps your body stay regulated and efficient.
It’s dangerous to go alone! When all else fails, remember that you can always reach out to other people, like your family and friends. Or, if you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to people you know, you can always try using services on campus such as Peer Support or personal counselling, which are entirely confidential and free of charge to students!
Sometimes, just being able to talk about what’s on your mind with someone you trust can make a world of difference for your mental health. Never be afraid to vent, and remember: you’re not alone.