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Self Care of the Physical, Mental, and Emotional Bodies

“School, homework, extracurricular activities, sleep, repeat—that’s what it can be for some of these students,” says Noelle Leonard, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at the New York University College of Nursing.

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From September to June, many students have a continual cycle of stress from various internal and external sources, whether that may be from schoolwork, extracurriculars, university applications, summatives, procrastination, etc. It is more than fair to say that everyone who is reading this has experienced stress or some form of burnout.  Burnout is often described as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that can be caused by an excessive and prolonged amount of stress. Unfortunately, burnout can have a long-term negative impact on your emotional, physical and mental wellbeing. I think oftentimes we solely focus on school, extracurricular activities, productivity, etc. We often forget about self care—one of the ways to deal with stress and maintain our wellbeing. Especially during a pandemic, when we are trying to social distance from others, time can feel blurred, and our emotional and mental health can suffer.

What is self-care? Is it simply saying you care about yourself, brushing your teeth, or having a skincare routine? It’s actually all of the above and more; there are many different forms of self care to improve your wellbeing. Self-care is “a general term that describes everything you do deliberately for your mental, physical, and emotional well-being.” Although the concept of self-care seems simple, it is often forgotten when we become consumed with our busy lives. This is despite the fact that nearly everyone experiences stress on a day to day basis, such as deadlines, family arguments, or overload of work. These stressors have a strong impact on wellbeing, without a proper way of taking out your stress or restoring your wellbeing. According to a research study, stress levels among teenagers have increased substantially from the 1950s. It was found that the average high school student today has the “same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950’s.”

It is important to practice self-care on a weekly basis, if not daily, because stress is a “psychological impact that can manifest as irritability or aggression, a feeling of loss of control, insomnia, fatigue or exhaustion, sadness or tears, concentration or memory problems, or more.” Self-care can encourage us to have a healthy relationship with ourselves and others. Self-care may seem selfish, but it is the action of paying attention to yourself, having an awareness of how you feel, and doing something that makes you feel better. Sometimes we need to focus on mental health because perhaps you have had a lot of stress about an exam, or you need to focus on your physical health because you haven’t been feeling comfortable with yourself. This may seem narcissistic, but self-care is about you and remembering to take care of yourself. Self-care can help you be more motivated and productive, boost your self-esteem, become less prone to burnout and improve your mood/emotional wellbeing. 

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Like I said before, there are many forms of self-care which could be grouped into 6 categories:

  1. Knowledge and health literacy, which basically means the understanding of health, disease and self-care. Having strong health literacy and awareness can help you maintain a healthy life and wellbeing.

  2. Mental wellbeing—being aware of where your stress is coming from and creating systems like habits to manage your stress (ex. creating to-do lists or a daily schedule).

  3. Physical health includes physical activity which is essential for good health. Regular exercise can prevent many non-communicable diseases and is a natural way to release dopamine, improving your emotional wellbeing. Physical health also includes getting enough sleep to function properly.

  4. Healthy eating—eating a balanced healthy diet can decrease the chances of chronic diseases, improve body systems and sustain your energy throughout the day.

  5. Good hygiene—taking care of yourself with good hygiene can prevent the spread of diseases (and viruses) and maintain your health. This could be as simple as washing your hands or brushing your teeth (which I really hope you do so already).

  6. Relaxation—this is what usually comes to mind when people think self-care. From personal experience, relaxation is one of the best ways to cope with stress. This doesn’t mean relaxing for the whole day to procrastinate working but instead setting some time to do something that helps calms you down or takes your mind off work.

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How to set up your self-care routine

  • Find what works best for you. Try to explore different self care methods and find the most enjoyable and effective ways of satisfying your needs/wellbeing. Everyone is different and going through different things, so it might take you some time to find what type of self-care works best for you.

  • Create a plan. This may seem weird, but try to schedule times in your week to practice self-care. Doing this can help keep you accountable and ensure that you are maintaining your well-being rather than ignoring it.

Image is courtesy of @annieliesdraws on Instagram

12 ways to practice self-care:

Emotional wellbeing:

  • Watch your favourite TV show

  • Meditate or try yoga (there are a lot of great videos on Youtube for yoga)

  • Connect with your friends and family

  • Creating a schedule or planner to set priorities

Mental wellbeing:

  • Read a book

  • Listen to music

  • Watch your favourite TV show

  • Try journaling and writing down your thoughts

Physical wellbeing:

  • Get enough sleep (8+ hours of sleep)

  • Reorganize your room

  • Go on a walk (if you are like me and cannot run)

  • Create a skincare routine


Communications, N. (2015, August 11). NYU Study Examines Top High School Students' Stress

and Coping Mechanisms. Retrieved October 29, 2020, retrieved from



Smith, M., M.S. (2020). Burnout Prevention and Treatment. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from




The impacts of stress on your mental health. (2020, October 02). Retrieved October 29, 2020,

from https://www.redcross.ca/blog/2020/10/the-impact-of-stress-on-your-mental-health?


The Importance of Self-Care. (2020). Perimeter Healthcare.Retrieved October 29, 2020, from




Twenge, J. M., J.M.T. (2000). Studies Show Normal Children Today Report More Anxiety than

Child Psychiatric Patients in the 1950's. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from


Article Author: Kelley Liang

Article Editors: Stephanie Sahadeo, Victoria Huang