Self-Care 101

By Kate Schellenberg

It’s important to take the time to look after yourself when school gets stressful. Remember: Work smarter, not harder. Photo: Congerdesign from Pixabay.

Feeling overwhelmed? A lot of times our moods can be improved by small changes in our routines. If you find yourself feeling stressed, try making a few (or all!) of these changes:

1. Get more sleep.

Getting fewer than eight hours of sleep can significantly affect your mood. If you have been feeling down or low on energy and motivation, see if you can have a few nights in a row of sleeping without setting an alarm and let your body catch up.

2. Take a break from alcohol.

Having a drink with friends can be a great way to relax. However, alcohol is a depressant and consuming it will affect your overall mood. If you are able, try taking a break from drinking. If you are struggling with quitting drinking, reach out to a doctor or counsellor.

3. Reduce isolation.

Sometimes you need to stay in to finish an assignment. But being a hermit can often worsen feelings of loneliness. Going out with a friend for coffee, calling a family member or even going to the grocery store can change your mood and get you out of the habit of staying home.

4. Add healthy food.

Everyone knows that eating healthy has a positive impact on your body, but restricting your diet or trying to lose weight can add stress onto an already stressful time. Treat yourself kindly: instead of cutting out foods, add one healthy thing a day to the food you already eat. That way you eat healthy foods and you are not depriving yourself.

5. Get some sunshine.

Going outside lets you soak up the rays from the sun and as an added bonus loads your body up with vitamin D. Breathing in the fresh air can help boost your mood too. Don’t worry about whether you are exercising or not, just go outside, sit in a park, walk on a path or lounge on your balcony.

Getting help

If you find that lifestyle changes are not helping or that you are unable to implement changes in your life, it is time to seek help.

1. See a counsellor.

Available for free at Carleton. The student health plan also allows a certain amount of money to see a psychologist every year. Information is found here.

2. See your doctor.

They can prescribe you medication or refer you to a specialist.

3. Call a crisis line.

In an emergency when counselling is not open, there are 24/7 crisis lines available with trained professionals to talk to.

  • Crisis Line: (613) 722-6914
  • Distress Centre of Ottawa: (613) 238-3311
  • Campus Safety Office: (613) 520-4444

Other emergency numbers can be found here.

4. Go to the hospital.

If you are worried you may harm yourself, go to a hospital. Medical staff can offer immediate services to you.

Almost every student feels stressed and overwhelmed at some point during their studies. Remember that there are resources on campus to help you and that you are not the only one feeling this way.