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Self-care – how to improve

Evaluate – where am I now? Do I feel energized and vibrant or stressed and drained? Change starts with self-awareness.

Decide – what is one realistic change I could make this week.

Incorporate – one strategy that would enhance your energy and decrease stress.

Eliminate or minimize – unnecessary tasks, relationships or external stressors that are creating stress.

Re-evaluate – on an ongoing basis.

1. Sleep
• I sleep long enough to feel rested (7 to 9 hours per night for most people).
• I have a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at approximately the same time every day.
• I do something relaxing before bed.
• I turn off my computer and cell phone at least an hour before bed; alternatively, wearing blue blocking glasses can prevent the blue light that disrupts sleep/circadian rhythms.
• My bedroom is dark, quiet and not too warm.

2. Eat
• I eat a balanced, nutritious diet with lots of whole, unprocessed foods.
• I eat 3 meals a day and snacks if needed.
• I limit intake of caffeine and alcohol/intoxicants.

3. Exercise
• I get at least 20 minutes of exercise three to six times a week.
• I train smart by exercising the right amount of time and intensity for me.

4. Rejuvenate
• I do something for myself every day, even if it is only for a few minutes.
• I plan a fun activity at least once a week.
• I have some regular activities which I use to keep my stress levels down (e.g. walking, talking, organizing, writing/journaling, physical exertion, meditation, yoga, hobby, hot bath, music, thinking about things I am grateful for …).
• I have some quick relaxation techniques to use in stressful situations such as: slow, deep abdominal breathing; deep muscle tensing and relaxing; visualization; humour.
• I set realistic goals and avoid aiming for perfection.
• I make sure I have at least some balance in my life.

5. Time Management – the most important stress prevention tool
• As much as possible I have a regular (but not too rigid) routine.
• I use my daytimer or another method of writing down all my assignments, exams, appointments, social activities …
• I make a daily to-do list including all tasks I need to get done.
• I prioritize the to-do list and work on my most important tasks first.
• I work on one task at a time and control distractions. (This was rated as one of the most important stress relievers).
• I have learned to use small chunks of time effectively. I plan study/homework tasks that I can do in short spans of time and I save my longer study times for more concentrated homework projects and studying. Flashcards can be great for learning and memorizing info in short periods of time.
• I am on top of procrastination – I do not let myself make excuses for postponing important tasks.
• I am able to say ‘No’ to external requests that are going to add stress.

6. Space Management
• My study space, living area, and lockers are organized.
• I take the time to de-clutter.
• I am aware of the negative situations and people in my life and, as much as possible, avoid or eliminate these.

7. Positive Attitude
• I reinforce positive self-statements (I can do it, I am a good student …)
• I visualize success.
• I let go of mistakes and I do not replay failures.
• I focus on my good qualities and accomplishments.
• I avoid comparison and competition with classmates.

8. Seek Help
• I talk to a classmate or instructor if I am confused about course material.
• I have people in my life I can talk to if I am feeling down or worried.
• I seek professional help if I am feeling depressed, anxious, having relationship problems or am going through any issues that impact my mental health or academic success.

Personal counselling is free, confidential and available to all currently registered NAIT students.

Main Campus, Room W-111PB in the HP Centre: Counsellors are available from 8-4:30 with extended hours for apprentices. Book in person or by phoning 780-378-6133.
Souch Campus: Counsellor available Thursdays from 10-4. Book by calling 780-378-6133 or in person in Room Z-153.
Patricia Campus: Counsellor available Tuesdays from 10-4. Book by calling 780-378-6133.

– Margaret Marean,  NAIT Student Counselling



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