Putting Yourself First During a Busy Time

Life gets busy, especially during this time of year, and we may find ourselves juggling multiple things at once. As students, a lot is expected of us. We’re expected to attend lectures and tutorials, complete classwork to the best of our abilities, work part-time jobs, and spend time with loved ones simultaneously, just to name a few. It’s a lot to ask of one person and many times, while we try to tackle all of it, we forget to look after ourselves. I’m here to remind you that without putting yourself, your health and your wellbeing first, there won’t be any chance for you to do all of the things I’ve listed above. It’s important to take some time to focus on ourselves. I’ve collected some helpful suggestions on ways to make small efforts into looking after yourself, taking a break from the things that stress us out, and relaxing, even if only for a little bit.

  1. 1. The Importance of Being Calm and Getting Sleep

    Our days can be long when we’re trying to accomplish a lot and this can lead to your mind working long after it should be taking a break. You may find yourself up at night, still thinking about the things that you’ve done that day or everything you want to get done for the next. The longer this goes on, the more you won’t be getting the amount of sleep that you need to feel ready to go for the next day. If this is you, relaxing and taking time for yourself in the evening is a crucial part of getting ready for bed.

    Turn off technology a few hours before you plan to go to sleep. The lights of your screens reflect daylight and your body will still think it’s daytime and won’t want to fall asleep. This also allows you to shut off from the world. All posts that you want to look at before bed will be there when you wake up in the morning. While you’re staying away from technology before bed, pick up a book if you’re not feeling ready to sleep yet.

    Run yourself a warm bubble bath, set up some candles, play calm music and pour yourself a glass of wine. This sounds like absolute perfection and unfortunately, it’s not realistic for every night. When you can, treat yourself to a nice bubble bath to warm up and relax your whole body.

    Practice meditation or yoga to relax. My favorite way of meditating is using the app Calm. This app gives you a selection of calming sounds and meditation sessions that tackle anxiety, self-esteem, mindfulness and depression. My personal favorite sounds on the app are the rain sounds playlist. If that’s something you’re interested in but you aren’t inclined to subscribe to the app, Spotify has many playlists with rain sounds and other calming tracks to get you feeling relaxed and ready to sleep.

    Personally, I love drinking sleep teas to make myself calm and ready for bed. Available at your local grocery store in a variety of flavors and brands, these teas calm you right down and make you feel ready for bed.

  2. 2. A Clean Space Leads to a Clean Mind

    When you have many things going on in your busy life, clutter and a dirty space won’t help you feel like you have control over the situation. Getting control over the physical things in your life can make you feel more accomplished and less anxious in and around your own space. Tidy up your bedroom, apartment or even just a messy drawer. In doing this, you’ll feel less suffocated with your belongings, freeing up the clutter in your life.

    Treat yourself to an extra long shower or take a little more time removing your makeup at the end of the day. Do a deep cleanse and slap on a face mask or eye patches to get the outside world off of you while putting moisture back into your skin.

    Create a list of things that you need to accomplish over the next little while so that you can physically see what you need to get done. This can help make you feel less overwhelmed with that list scattered around your brain. Physically seeing what you need to do, and when you need to do it by, make the tasks seem less daunting than if they’re just stored in your head.

  3. 3. Give Yourself New Scenery

    When you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything that you’ve got going on, it’s important to have a change of scenery and allow yourself a break from the task at hand. Something as simple as going outside for a walk can clear your mind. This also allows you to put things into perspective in the grand scheme of things. Nature is particularly helpful for comparing the things that you’ve got going on in your life to the size of everything around you. I find this particularly helpful if I feel like the papers or exams that I have are the most important thing in my life. I’m constantly reminded that there’s so much more to the world than working and going to school, and a walk outside helps put that into perspective for me. If that doesn’t work, a bigger distraction may be helpful. Treating yourself to a trip to the mall, even just to window shop, gets you away from the things that are stressing you out.

  4. 4. Good for the Soul

    Sometimes, physical objects may not always be the solution to every problem. When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, making yourself feel good from the inside out may be a better and more practical solution than spending some cash on a material object.

    Taking some time to talk about your feelings with a loved one allows you to get your thoughts out into the open and feel less like they’re caged inside. Family or best friends come in handy for this as they’re always there in your time of need and always want the best for you. They’ll be there to give you their honest thoughts on the situation or just listen if that’s all you need.

    Practice deep breathing techniques to help calm down after a busy day. By doing these, your heart rate decreases allowing an overall relaxed feeling. These exercises are particularly helpful in soothing you if you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious. 

    Remind yourself that you’re only human and give yourself the benefit of the doubt when you feel like you can’t always handle everything that’s thrown at you. Remember that there are only so many hours during the day that you can get things done. I also find personal affirmations helpful when I feel like I haven’t accomplished a lot during the day. In your mind or journal, highlight some positive aspects of the day such as the things that you’ve accomplished and how you felt about them.

  5. 5. Helpful Tools to Practice Self-Care

    Over the years that I have been in university, I have picked up some tools that I keep coming back to if I ever feel overwhelmed and need to take a minute to myself. These tools allow me the chance to put the many things I’ve got going on on hold and allow myself the time to relax and look after myself.

    While doing my skincare routine in the evening, I use the Green Jade Facial Roller by Bkind Natural Skincare from Indigo to massage my facial creams and serums into my skin as well as to reduce tension and to relax my muscles through the massage.

    I love a Bath and Body Works candle! In particular, I love candles that are targeted towards taking time for yourself. Their Aromatherapy collection is filled with candles that promise stress relief and comfort through the scents of individual candles.

    As I sometimes suffer with anxiety, I found Owning It: Your Bullshit-Free Guide To Living With Anxiety as a wonderful read regarding living with anxiety and the many ways we can deal with it while juggling a busy lifestyle. Lush’s Cup O’ Coffee is a great facemask that doubles as a scrub to remove dryness, leaving your skin glowing. This is perfect for when you happen to come across a morning where you can relax a bit more before getting on with your day.

Although it is a busy time of year, I hope you remember to take time for yourself, even if it’s just a few minutes to practice your breathing. However you can, try to put yourself first and take care of yourself. I also believe that mental health is extremely important. Many universities have staff on campuses to speak to if you are feeling low or overwhelmed so please, take advantage of any of these resources if you have them readily available to you.