It is that time of year when taking care of yourself seems just that little bit harder. What with exams and study and assessments and placements and now it is winter! Seasonal Affective Disorder is a term some of you may have heard and perhaps wondered about but even without the diagnosis I know for me the colder nights and shorter days means that enthusiasm to do things is so much harder. Especially when you have to do things that are not fun (like study) getting motivated to start, let alone keep going, sometimes seems impossible.
While sometimes there may be hours, days or weeks when getting through the day feels hard, this is normal. Sometimes life causes pain and hurt and struggle and mess. As humans it is OK that we feel that pain, hurt, struggle and mess. But what is so very important in those times is knowing how important it is to take care of yourself and so having some ideas on how to do this may be helpful. So with that in mind I thought it might be a good time to offer up some seasonal, exam tips for self-care when you’re feeling low.
1.Check in with your expectations. Are you expecting too much from yourself given all the things you have happening right now? I encourage you to look at yourself with a gentler eye, let go of any ideas you have about being ‘good enough’ and instead ask ‘what is reasonable’?
2. If you were talking to a friend who was feeling like you what would you say to them? This follows from above and can be helpful if you are feeling like it is all too much. Imagine you are your own best friend. Offer yourself comfort and empathetic words of encouragement.
3. Speaking of comfort, what could you do to bring comfort to your day today? How about a coffee in the sun? A drive to the beach and sitting looking at the rolling ocean? New sheets on your bed? Some hot buttered toast? You can also practice gratitude in these times to aid your experience.
4.Have a warm shower and spend some time being mindful of the water as it cleans you and renews your body. Recognise where you are holding stress or tension and move your body to stretch those aches.
5.How about a bath, if you have one pop yourself in with some bath salts and your favourite book or music.
6.Go outside and walk in the weather. Whatever the weather. If it is sunny bask in the warmth of the day. If it is windy wrap yourself in a scarf and coat and look at the clouds as they move or the trees as they drop their final leaves. If it is wet, don’t be scared, you won’t melt! Just pop on some boots and a raincoat. Find a puddle!
7. Reconnect your mind with your hands. We have all seen the mindfulness colouring books but how about knitting, baking, drawing, gardening, tinkering on a project?
8. Make a list and a plan for today or tomorrow or the week. Leave the high expectations out and ask of yourself only what is necessary or will bring joy. If it serves neither than leave it alone for a time when you feel stronger.
9. Try taking a break from technology. Try an hour, or a day. It is amazing how re-connected you can feel by not being connected!
10. Lastly reach out for support if you need it. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone and ask for help. If you’re not sure where to start then try booking in to meet with a Student Support Advisor here at UON so you can have a confidential chat with someone who can talk through some ideas and help you get back where you want to be. This is really important if you have been feeling this way for more than 2 weeks.
These are just a few ideas that you may want to try if you are feeling the exam or winter blues, remember they may be something that sounds OK or you may have your own ideas about what helps. Use your own values and self-awareness to trust yourself to create your own ideas for some self-care. Deem yourself worthy enough to try putting those ideas into practice and choose something you can have a go at today.
Just a note that due to the Public Holiday on Monday 12 June there will be no Skype Drop-in on that day.The next regular Skype Drop-in is Tuesday at 8pm.