Lily Baldanza is a final year undergraduate student who was writing on Daphne Du Maurier’s Revolutionary Women for her dissertation (now submitted). She took a break from her research to tell us about the importance of taking time to focus on wellbeing. These are self-care tips. If you feel that you need wellbeing or mental health support, please contact our lovely Wellbeing team here.
With my dissertation date in very short sight and my last two undergraduate assessments in a month’s time, it is more important than ever to give myself time off. Time off from my laptop, time off from my set texts and time off from the stress and worry of being a university student. However, with deadlines approaching and having commitments to part time work, finding the time can seem daunting. It’s why one day every week I give myself a ‘me’ day: a ‘lily’ day. I get ready to have a day doing whatever I want to do, and whatever my body needs. This is a day where I take pleasure in doing things that I enjoy.
I get up at my regular time, 7am, when my partner leaves for work, and I make myself a coffee or tea. Then I get started on a yoga routine from YouTube. I find that getting my body moving creates so much creativity and allows me to at least say I did one active thing that day! But the best part about having a ‘me’ day is putting my laptop away – sometimes I need to literally put it in a cupboard to stop myself from doing some uni work! I will listen to a podcast or romanticise getting groceries. Further, with having a day off this allows me to rest, recuperate and plan what I need to get done in the week whilst setting realistic goals. If it’s been a particularly stressful week with deadlines, dissertation writing and so on, I will sit on the couch and watch shows that make me happy, catch up on YouTube videos or even reality TV. If I feel like I need to be active, I go to the gym or have a run in the park. Either way, I will never feel guilty about being ‘lazy’ or not doing work. A rest is as good as a cure, as they say.
In fact, having ‘me’ days have improved my productivity tenfold, even though I also work part-time. The work guilt is hard at first, but it gets easier. I would say that, when deadlines are on the way, and everything seems most overwhelming, then that is the time when rest days are absolutely necessary. Without proper rest, burnout grows.
I also take a day off to spend with my partner, or friends, or family, but spending time with just myself for a whole day has made me realise how much I need to value my own time and my own wellbeing.
Here are some ideas for rest day activities:
- Read a book that you enjoy. Try not to take this day to catch up on set texts. (After all that’s doing uni work!) I recommend a nonfiction book or a guilty pleasure.
- Move in the morning, whether that be yoga, gym, stretching, a walk or a run.
- Listen to your body. If you want to be outside great! But if you just want to sit in front of Netflix all day, that’s okay too, your body knows what it needs and you’ve been working hard all week.
- Make yourself a nice meal, something just for you.
- Have your ‘me’ day spent completely independently. It might seem scary at first, but it makes you get used to your own company, take some pleasure in being selfish if just for one day!