Self-care societies: Easing your way through the chaos of college

Take time at the start of the year to look after your physical and mental health

Now that we’re four weeks into the Michaelmas term, it’s time to sort some important things out- so that we might make it through it through to the new year without complete collapse. Your schedule should just be starting to fill up nicely. Free hours here and there disappear like a mouse escaping down a crack in the floor: impossibly quickly and with no warning. Have you ever seen that happen? It’s actually very hard to believe your eyes – much like how I find myself dismayed each year as the weeks become more and more active. As the year picks up speed, so does one’s pace of life. Lectures begin to become mandatory, and the work to be done for them becomes compulsory. Society obligations start piling up, essays begin to be assigned and all the while the number of nights out continue to sneakily climb higher despite one’s best intentions.

With all of this action, priorities begin to be pulled in different directions, and a priority we often neglect is ourselves.Given all this busyness, it is more important than ever to pay attention to personal needs – and not just watering, feeding and resting yourself (but try not to slack on these either!). A key aspect of a good personal health regimen is to be in touch with the emotions that are currently swirling around in your brain threatening to consume it. Well maybe that’s a tad dramatic. The cumulative nature of emotion means that a negative one can build in intensity gradually until it becomes an issue that affects your day to day functioning. Just because we cannot see our emotions does not mean we should treat them as if they don’t exist, lest the time bomb begins to tick. College is a time of emotional extremes – yes, you may be elated that a handsome man asked for your number last night, but your heart will sink as soon as you walk into a morning tutorial completely unprepared for the inevitable barrage of questions ahead. What can be lacking is balance, a balance that can be restored by taking an hour a few times a week to take part in activities which give you a sense of calm and relaxation. Simply put, by taking some quality “me time”’.

“There are a myriad of physical and emotional health benefits associated with meditation.”

DU Meditation Society

Haven’t we all heard how good meditation is for us? There are a myriad of physical and emotional health benefits associated with meditation. It is a massive aid in managing your daily wellbeing. It reduces the production of cortisol (the main stress hormone), and the benefits do not stop there. Some research has shown that meditation can help with managing negative emotions such as anger and fear. It might not help with The Fear, though it probably could considering the mettle of this wonderfully beneficial activity. It also activates the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that controls concentration, focus and problem solving – all things that you’d find it hard to make it through a library session without. Because of this engagement of the prefrontal cortex, it brings the practice into the present moment which has a beneficial calming and centering effect. Considering this, it is surely time to get DU Meditation Society to teach you their mysterious ways. The society hosts a meditation session weekly on Mondays at 1pm, making this one of the easiest to attend TLC events of the week (if your resolve diminishes rapidly as the week progresses, just as mine does).

“Yoga truly is the green juice of the physical activity world.”

Trinity Yoga Society

Join DU Yoga Soc on the mat to experience all the fantastic health benefits that the ancient practice provides. Yoga truly is the green juice of the physical activity world. This is because yoga will nourish your insides like no other exercise can! Yoga increases body awareness, relieves stress, reduces muscle tension, strain, and inflammation, sharpens attention and concentration, aids digestion and metabolism, and calms and centres the nervous system. A session on the mat will leave you limber and relaxed for hours. Practicing yoga is also a great way to become familiar with yourself and your body, not as something which needs to look good but as something you need to look after. It will teach you how to look after your joints, muscles and tendons through the poses you learn in the practises. I find it very helpful to know exactly how to stretch my back the right way after a night out, or a long session in the library. Classes run daily, except for Friday, so there are frequent opportunities to get involved.

Visual Arts Society

Creating art, whether it be doodling, sculpting, painting or what have you, is a very enjoyable pastime but its benefits go beyond the aforementioned. It is an incredibly relaxing and centering activity which relieves stress. The act of making something is an exercise in self-esteem, building up one’s ability to withstand stress. In other words, sign me up ladies. Additionally, it is a means of self expression which offers an outlet for emotional excess and for processing states of being which cannot be articulated. Art allows your brain a moment to relax, and within this time your brain can seize the opportunity to make new connections and pathways which will hopefully aid you in the day to day struggle of keeping everything on point at all times.

Gráinne Quigley

Gráinne Quigley is a Deputy Societies Editor for Trinity News.