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How to be busy and still look after yourself

There's so much to keep up with at university it can be hard to fit it all in and still look after yourself. Mental health can take a toll if you're keeping busy and not taking care of yourself, but it is possible to do everything and still have time for self-care.

Lectures, seminars, part-time job, social life, societies... And having to take care of yourself? Seems pretty impossible and quite overwhelming. You're told something has to give, for most it's a social life or a normal sleeping pattern. Coffee becomes your best friend and you're lucky if you're having one meal a day.

For me, I cram as much into my schedule as possible and leave worrying about taking care of myself for another time, this is when my mental health starts to suffer. I'm tired all the time from lack of sleep and food, have no motivation to do anything and start to shut myself off from the world. However, it is possible to be really busy and still take care of yourself, it just takes a lot of careful planning, but you can do everything you want to do and still be the best version of yourself.

1. Get a planner

This is probably the easiest step towards being time-effective. A planner solves all problems. It can be super simple or you can completely make it your own, the possibilities are endless but it's important to find out what works for you. At the start of every week sit down and plan out every day, start with uni lectures and seminars (you're at uni to get a degree!) and then plan everything else around that whether it's nights out, work shifts, society things, whatever you need! Factor in time around those to eat, sleep and have you time. If you find planning every hour of the working day is best for you then do it! That little bit of extra time spent can make the rest of your week so much easier.

2. Meal plan
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I’m not a dedicated meal planner. In truth: I meal plan maybe twice a month (and ditch the plan by Thursday dinner time). This month I’m committing to my meal plan in part because I’m doing the Whole30 (more on that later), but also because I’m craving space in my life. ⠀ ⠀ I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my personal life in the last several weeks. Coupled with a lot of travel and social time, this introvert is running on empty. Instead of caving to processed foods, sugar and all. the. coffee I’m committing to nourishing myself in a way that will actually put fuel back in my tank:⠀ ⠀ Eating regularly⠀ Eating vegetables⠀ Avoiding blood sugar and cortisol spikers ⠀ ⠀ Getting organized was step #1 on that path. What I’m hoping for is that meal planning for the month gives me a bit more brain space for myself. I won’t have to think about what’s for dinner or spend much needed downtime on the weekend organizing a grocery list (or wrangling my wife to help me come up with ideas of things we should eat). Instead I can just pull out my plan and dig in. ⠀ ⠀ Any of you organize things when life hands you lemons? It just feels right...⠀ ⠀ #mealplanning #failtoplanplantofail #Whole30 #healthgoals #eatright

A post shared by Jesse Haas (@jessehaasmpls) on

I normally find I'll forget or won't have time to eat when I'm really busy. This can leave you feeling tired because you have no energy. Meal planning is a really easy way to make sure you are eating your required three meals a day and is something you can simply incorporate into your planner. At the bottom of every day just write what you are going to eat for lunch and dinner—this can be done when you are planning your whole week. This means there will be no worry every night over what you're going to eat and its great if you find you don't have a lot of time. If you're going to be busy during the day then make sure you write you need to make a packed lunch or buy food so that you can do that the night before if needed.

3. Remember it's okay to say no

If you do find yourself really getting overwhelmed then it's important to remember you can always say no. Nobody will be offended and they'll quickly get over it, especially if you need some time to yourself, people will always understand. You don't have to go to every social event, and most lectures are recorded if you need to take a self-care morning/evening, so don't be too hard on yourself, while you want to be able to do everything sometimes you simply can't and that's okay!

4. Wake up earlier

Students are notoriously known for how much they sleep and while sleep is good, you won't get much done if you're sleeping all day. Try and get into a habit of waking up at the same time every day to truly get the most out of your day. I find around eight-nine hours of sleep a night is the best, I mean I always feel tired despite how much I sleep, but I can properly function on eight-nine hours, you just need to find what works best for you. There is also no shame in going to bed early, you don't have to be up till 1 am every night!

5. Remember what self-care really is

Self-care isn't always facemasks and bubble baths like you see on social media, it genuinely is the day-to-day things like making sure you eat three meals a day, get enough sleep, have a shower, drinking enough water, etc. Looking after yourself and providing your body with everything it needs means you feel good in yourself and your mental health will stay in better condition. It's all well and good to be super busy, but if you don't take care of yourself then you will eventually burn out and that's not beneficial to anyone! Take care of you.

Effective planning and knowing when everything is getting too much is the best way to make the most of every day while still being the best you, you can be. Once you get into a routine everything will get so much easier, but hopefully, these tips will make hectic uni life a bit easier for you.