Taking Care of Yourself – A Self-Care Guide for Students


Sometimes it seems like we have little or no control over what we think and how we feel, but actually there are many things we can do to make ourselves feel better. Many of us feel unsure about what’s happening in the world and in our lives – particularly when university interviews and application deadlines are looming! Taking the time to look after yourself during this stressful time will help you deal with the issues you are facing and even perform better.

Below, we outline some great tips to help students and learners support their own wellbeing whatever is going on.


Food can affect your mood! There is a link between what we eat and how we feel so it’s important to have a healthy,
balanced diet for both your body and mind. Eating well doesn’t have to be expensive.

Try these sites for brain food on a budget:

Change4Life: easy tips and recipes

NHS Choices: healthy eating for teens

Royal College of Psychiatrists: linking eating well and mental health


Everyone knows that exercise is good for your body – but it’s also important for your emotional wellbeing. Scientists have discovered that exercise causes your brain to release chemicals that make you feel good. There is evidence to show that exercise can help raise self-esteem, help sleep problems, improve memory and concentration, takes your mind off negative thoughts, as well as reduces feelings of anxiety and depression.

Try these sites for more ideas:

NHS Choices: physical activity for teens

Mind: physical activity and mental health

Improving Your Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is how you think and feel about yourself. Having healthy self-esteem makes it easier to cope with life’s ups and downs. If you have low self-esteem, the thoughts and feelings you have about yourself tend to be negative. This can make you more prone to mental health problems.

Try these sites for some different ways to boost your self-esteem:

Mental Health: resources to support you to manage your mental well-being

Young Minds: top tips on how to boost self-esteem

Taking Time to Relax

Regular relaxation is beneficial for your mental health and can support you if you are feeling anxious about an exam or university interview. If you make a regular time each day to practice some of the techniques below you will get better and better at relaxation and notice your day-to-day stress levels are lower. You will also become able to use relaxation techniques at the times you need them most.

Try these relaxation techniques:

Breathing exercises

Seven eleven technique

Deep muscle relaxation

Another great way to relax is to practice mindfulness. This is the focusing of attention and awareness on the here and now, and is often used to reduce anxiety, stress and depression. It has roots in Buddhism, though is used widely by people of all ages from all different backgrounds. Check out this three-minute mindfulness podcast from the Mental Health Foundation.

Sharing What’s Bothering You

Sharing what’s bothering you can help to make it feel more manageable. If you feel that the problem’s you’re having are too big for you to deal with by yourself you may want to get in contact with your GP, someone from school/college or someone else you trust. If you’re finding it hard to talk to people you know about how you feel, these websites offer the chance for you to talk to someone confidentially. They are also useful if you want to talk to someone, but don’t want that person to be someone you know.


The Samaritans

These links might also be helpful:

• Not sure how to start a conversation with your GP about mental health? Check out the award-winning Doc Ready app

• Have a look at ChildLine’s short video about depression for young people

• Check out Thinkuknow’s resources on internet safety

We’re Here to Help

If you’re worried about any aspect of your university application or learning progress, or you’re struggling with your mental health, there’s no need to suffer in silence. Contact DANCOP and we’ll endeavour to answer your questions or direct you towards resources and organisations who can assist you.