Why Self Care Is So Important (Especially at University).

Warning: This post contains material about mental health.

People on the internet throw around the term “treat yo’ self” a lot; yet how often do you actually ‘treat yourself’?

There are many ways to do so, be it by taking a break from your busy schedule to pursue a hobby, putting that diet on hold to satisfy your chocolate craving, or (and most importantly) making time for self-care, which is the main form of ‘treating yourself’ that I will be discussing.

Some people are better than others at treating themselves right. Lack of this can negatively impact an individual’s sense of self, and their ability to love and care for themselves. Now, I hear you asking: “How can someone not know how to treat themselves right?”, and there are numerous reasons why this could be the case. However, I’ll give you one example:

Imagine someone who gets good grades. Their grades are good- they’re not perfect, but they’ll still suffice. From your point of view, you think that they’re doing a great job academically- you even ask for advice on assignments; but in their mind, their grades aren’t good enough, and they mentally beat themselves up for not doing better, when they know that they could have. Slowly, this sense of needing to excel starts to seep into their everyday lives as they begin to set themselves unreasonably high expectations; but they are unable to deliver, causing them to mentally beat themselves up more often, eventually becoming devoid of self-love.

Someone can forget how to love themselves due to a number of reasons; from bad people experiences, to just having a personality that is prone to self-conflict. No two people have the same reason for feeling this way; it’s subjective- it’s how they perceive themselves and how well they think they are doing in life. Being unable to love yourself poses issues- which can badly affect your quality of life. Someone who resists self-love will wonder: “What’s the use in it? I’m fine without it”, and this is an unhealthy and toxic way of thinking. You cannot expect to be in the right frame of mind for trying to care for yourself when self-love is a foreign concept. To be able care for yourself, you must first be able to appreciate yourself; self-love is the primary incentive for self-care.

But why is it so important?

When you have not taken the time to stop and love the person you are for a long time, you forget your own good qualities. Even with friends and family reminding you of all your good aspects, you don’t accept their compliments- because you don’t believe them. Your mind is cloudy, sporadic, and is unable to focus on anything wholeheartedly; and to do well at university, you need to have a razor-sharp focus. This isn’t limited to good grades alone; self-care is vital for university overall if you want to have a good time. Being filled with self-doubt, low self-perception, anxiety in social situations, and body-consciousness for most of the day is certainly not going to get you very far.

So, what do you do when you think you’re too far gone; when you can genuinely say that you don’t know how to love yourself?

“I can reach out to someone not like me.” I thought that talking to someone would help me in how I treated myself mentally. As I’m approaching my 3rd and final year as an undergraduate, I realised that in order finish my degree with a bang: I need to learn first how to love myself, how to care for myself, and how to clear my mind.

Talking to a professional is different from talking to a friend or family member; it’s a liberating experience. They are a complete stranger, a stranger who is qualified to help anyone. They’re not connected to your family circle or friendship group; whatever is said in that room stays in that room, contained and drama-free. There’s no one there to gossip over that fact that you went to go and see a counsellor- you can go and see them, and no one ever has to know about it (if you so wish). Because of this, you’ll automatically be able to open up to your counsellor (well judging from my own personal experience), despite how nerve-wrecking it is at first. They’ll suggest things about why you may be feeling the way you feel- things that you have never even considered before. You’ll learn to perceive yourself differently. You’ll be given reassurance. You’ll be given tips on how to reassure yourself outside of counselling (which, to me, is the first step in learning how to love and care for yourself). And the best part? It can all be done at Queen Mary’s Advice and Counselling Service.

If you think you need help, start with going to a counsellor. Remember, getting help does not make you a weak person. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

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