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How to master self-care in Cambridge

I don’t care what week it is, we all need it

Usually, whenever I do literally anything relaxing – going to Wasabi for every meal, lying in bed for hours when I have a pile of work to do, etc – I defend myself by insisting to anyone within earshot that it’s self-care.

The problem is that, as difficult as it is, living a relatively organised life and achieving things is good and makes me feel better, which means that in a way, it's self-care too. But that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes I literally do not want to think about work or responsibilities at all. So, what to do then?

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You can never have too much tea

I’ve set about trying to make self-care not just something I do because I can’t be bothered to do anything, but something that actually has a positive influence on my life. I’ve also set about compiling a list of tips in case the rest of you are in the same boat.

Reward yourself

Recently, I spent more than £50 on hair and skincare products in the same shop (in the name of self-care, obviously) and this meant I was given a free face mask.

The face mask has turned out to be the most useful part of that purchase because I decided to use it as a reward for myself – I decided that the first time I did an essay and handed it in on time, I would use said face mask. Dear reader, I am delighted to announce that I have finally managed that momentous task and I’m planning to use the face mask this evening. (I know it’s Week 4 but what can you do).

Anyway, I found this a very useful way of motivating myself to get my essay done. Honestly, at this point in term all I want is to relax with a face mask. Anything that helps you relax, buy it for yourself, and don’t let yourself use it until you’ve achieved a certain goal.

Some sort of ongoing project

My dad gave me two plants as a start of term present and I brought them up to Cambridge with me. For the first few weeks they were great – I had to water them once a week and they grew quickly from very small green shoots to actual, flowering plants. It was incredibly satisfying and gave me a sense of achievement that no degree-related endeavour did in that period of time.

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Unfortunately over the last week these plants have withered and died, so you can make of that what you will. But I would still class looking after those plants as self-care.

Get out of your room

Sometimes the most helpful, therapeutic thing you can do is just leave your room/house/the library and do something.

I regularly find myself staring at my laptop screen instead of working, and so leaving the library to eat in hall with people and it resets my brain. Is it the reminder that everyone else is in the same boat? Is it the copious amounts of potatoes? I may never know, but it works.

The bottom line is that self-care is not necessarily just a way to not do anything for a while, and can actually be very useful. All these things are relaxing and enjoyable, but they also bring good things into my life – motivation, a sense of achievement, and spending time with other people for a while.

And those are exactly the kind of good things that help you get through the still-looming pile of work.

Photos are the author's own.