As of 2019, six times more young people in the UK suffered from mental illness than in previous decades, The Guardian reports. Many of those affected are students under the age of 24. Now in the current wake of COVID-19, it’s fair to assume this mental health crisis will escalate further.
More than likely, as a uni student, your life is impacted by these unforeseen circumstances. With mandatory shelter-in-place orders across the UK, virtual uni courses, and cancelled events, you might feel alone or detached from your mates. The uncertainty of our current situation and disruptions to daily life inevitably leads to more anxiety. Which means self-care for both your physical and mental wellbeing is more important now than ever.
While you’ve likely heard of self-care Sunday, taking the last day of the week to relax and recharge, the following ideas will help you take self-care to the next level. While we totally promote one day per week dedicated to rejuvenation, don’t forget you can do these activities during the week too, especially when you feel stressed or overwhelmed.
Unplug From Your Devices for an Entire Afternoon
On average, people in the UK check their mobiles every 12 minutes, based on recent reports. All those scrolls, taps, clicks, and swipes can harm your mental health, according to a study from Nottingham Trent University. One-third of the smartphone notifications you receive can worsen your mood and, in some cases, lead to anxiety or depression. This might sound impossible in the era of technology, (especially while everyone has Zoom parties) but if you turn off social media, the internet, and other virtual distractions for just a few hours, it allows your mind to rest from overstimulation.
If you want to go full digital detox consider hiding your phone and computer and picking up a book (not related to coursework). Check out some of our book recommendations.
Take it to the next level: For those who use laptops to watch shows, or if you think you’ll be tempted to check social on your phone, log off from every channel on your devices for the day. No more notifications!
Write Down What You’re Grateful For
Back in 2018, psychologists at the University of Sheffield created a “wall of gratitude” on which both students and the public could write messages of thankfulness. How does this relate to the current landscape of COVID-19? Researchers found that when you notice and express gratitude, it lowers stress and depression, boosts resilience, enhances relationships, and alleviates chronic health symptoms.
In this time of uncertainty, it’s tough to find reasons to be thankful, but try to start your self-care Sunday by writing three things down—even if all you think of is, “I am grateful for coffee, Netflix, and pizza.”
Take it to the next level: Consider making this a daily practice; it takes no time at all and lets you start your day with a positive perspective. You could even start your own wall of gratitude in your room or flat. Use a whiteboard, a large sheet of paper, or just post its. Try to list new things each day!
Connect With Your Loved Ones
Self-care is different for everyone. It’s what you need for yourself to feel happier. For some people, especially right now, that’s taking time to connect with friends and family. What’s more, according to a recent poll from YouGov, 88 percent of young adults in the UK between 18 and 24 suffer from loneliness and one-fourth experience it often.
Plan to spend time with loved ones, so you don’t feel isolated (or too inside your head). Think of the mates or family members that you can have really long convos with and give them a ring or video chat. Reconnect with an old friend and catch up on life.
Take it to the next level: Facetime with your bestie and do some of these self-care Sunday practices together.
Practice Yoga to Feel Rooted Inside Your Own Body
If your current levels of exercise are down from spending more time indoors than usual, resist the temptation to lounge on your sofa and try to squeeze in a bit of movement. For those lazy days where you don’t feel like a tough workout, try a gentle yoga practice. The British Medical Journal explains that yoga can offer holistic benefits to sustain both physical and mental wellbeing. The increased body awareness leads to healthier behaviours, plus all you need is a yoga mat and these free YouTube channels.
Take it to the next level: Create your own at-home yoga studio. Tidy up, turn down the lights, burn some sage or incense, or light a candle. If your class doesn’t include music, queue up a Spotify playlist in the background.
Make Indoor Chores Feel Less Chore-Like
Sometimes self-care Sundays are about preparing for the week ahead. It can be boring to focus on adulting instead of indulging. However, we all know how good it feels to be productive. Scratch some tasks off your to-do list by making them fun as well. For instance:
- Meal prep for the week so you have lunches and supers covered but do it with your fave cocktail/mocktail. Put a good movie or show on in the background.
- Bribe yourself to clean up your flat by with the promise of a reward afterwards, think your fave takeaway, a sweet dessert, or a good bottle of wine.
- Plan a spa-like activity for after your at-home workout. You could hang eucalyptus in the bathroom and take a hot steamy shower or do a face mask.
Make a Date With Yourself for Self-Care Sunday (or Any Day)
Remember that self-care practices are not Sunday exclusive. When you feel stressed, overwhelmed or even sad, take a break and time for yourself. Tune in and listen to what your body and soul really needs. If that’s crawling under a blanket and watching an old movie, that’s fine. If its a lie-in, that’s all right too. There’s no shame in what your brand of self-care is.