A Mindful Journal and Self-Care apps to improve your wellbeing and mental health

I shared recently why self-care is productive and how you shouldn't feel guilty for taking time for yourself, to help you destress and put yourself first. For students, life can quickly become stressful. You're thrown into a new environment where you have to adjust, navigate your way around a new environment and new friendships as well as managing the workload. Even maybe you have a part-time job on top of that. Things can feel overwhelming.

I for sure neglected self-care in the first year or so of uni, but by the end, I feel I really found a balance between enjoying student life while making sure I was comfortable with the stress levels I faced and found time for self-care that worked for me. With a new set of students heading off to uni and others returning for another year, I felt now was the perfect time to share some ways to practice self-care as a student as well as a few things to keep in mind. So, here are some tips and ideas for students to practice self-care. 

Self Care Tip #1 Find something you love

Whether it's joining a society, a gym, volunteering or making sure you take some time each week to do something you enjoy, it's a great way to take your mind off things for an hour. I remember in the third year I joined the aerobics society; having that once a week, no matter if I'd had a bad day, I'd go and always came out of it feeling so much happier and more energised. I also realised that I loved to draw and doodle and how much of a destresser it was for me. This was something I did less often but still, when I did find time for this, I found it very therapeutic. I feel if you find something separate from uni work to focus on, it can really help.

Self Care Tip #2"There's an app for that" 

Something I wish I'd had at uni was the abundance of apps that can actually really help your wellbeing and also act as self-care. Something I spoke out in my happy habits post was the app daylio - this is an app to track your mood, what you've been doing and can help you see when you're happiest and when you're not your best. 

Another app I used at the end of uni after it's release was Sayana. This was such an interesting app and it was kind of a journalling app in the layout of texts - you would answer questions and their responses differ depending on your answers. Sayana also gave you advice of mindful tips based on how you're feeling and you could look back on these methods after. If you're struggling to find someone to talk to, maybe try this to help speak through your problems. 

There is also an abundance of daily journalling apps out there right now. I prefer a prompted journal format but there are so many different app options to explore to help you find the right one. 

While this recommendation may be old news to you, Headspace is so relaxing - I tried it in some sessions run during my internship and I wish I'd used it back in uni so, here's me telling you to give it a go! Also, if you have Spotify, with unidays it is no extra cost to have Headspace as well as Spotify - which is great. I would definitely recommend checking that out. 

Self Care Tip #3 Cut the screen time 

Slight contradiction to my last recommendations of self-care apps, but this is more aimed at unproductive, endless scrolling of social media. I found the days I had the highest screen time were those that I also tended to feel run down and a little low. Since cutting my screen time and doing something different that I enjoy, like reading, I have felt a lot better. As a student, I know it's hard to step away from everything going on on social media but taking some time away did me the world of good. 

Self Care Tip #4 Stay Healthy 

You may have moved to uni with only a small (if any) repertoire of recipes you can cook and so you're stuck in the same constant spaghetti bolognese and beans on toast cycle. I found cooking different and healthy meals was a really good way to boost my mood. Not just from taking some time to cook but also enjoying meals that were a little different every so often and also a little better for me - it helped me sleep better, feel more energised and just overall happier.

Self Care Tip #5 Speak Out

At my uni, we were constantly reminded about the services on offer for students who are struggling so, if you're starting university soon, I would definitely find out where you can get information about what services they offer for people struggling with stress, mental health and anything else. Knowing where to access this information will help you out a lot later on. 

While they may be new to you, you're all in the same boat so if you're struggling, speak to one of your housemates. If not them, maybe a friend from home? Try and check in on your family as well - it can be quite relaxing to hear from your close ones if you're stressed or down. 

Did you take time for self-care as a student? If did, what did you do? If didn't, what do you wish you did? 

Hope you're doing great, 
Sarah x

It's been a while since I've shared some of my favourites. I have shared some beauty favourites not too long ago as well as some great TV, book and music picks. Today, I wanted to share some more miscellaneous staples that I've been using and loving day-to-day. 

Iced Coffee

It may be nearing the end of summer and, honestly, I'm ready to embrace the cosy cold weather, but that hasn't stopped me loving iced coffee or I guess my more 'bootleg', a homemade concoction that I like to call an iced coffee. I mean, hey, it still tastes like a Starbucks to me! If I'm reading, I make one. Blogging, yes I'll have one. Cleaning? Another one, please! I think I've become extremely basic for loving this and I guess my Starbucks glass does not help the cause but for how good it tastes, I'm not mad about it. 

If you're interested in making your own at-home iced coffee, be sure to check my COFFEE Insta story highlight for a lil' tutorial - no fancy espresso machine is needed! 

M&S Cotton Straight Jeans

I really owe this love to Becc4 after she shared this fab pick over on Instagram. I never thought I'd be someone who went in for light white or cream jeans as well as something in this super straight style, but here I am! I loved the fact that they were responsibly sourced cotton, not bank-breaking at £19.50 and also came in short, regular and long fits - of course, 5ft 4 (ok, 5ft 3) me got the short fit. 

For a style like this, you can find similar in Urban Outfitters and Topshop for £40+ so why not go for cheaper, more sustainable and just fabulous looking jeans? I never thought M&S would be a place I'd find my favourite jeans but I'm so glad I found these. While I don't think they will, if M&S did decide to expand their colour range to include a light pink pair, I'll be waiting at the shop doors ready to pay!

Normal People by Sally Rooney

This year in reading hasn't been the best for me - so many books that leave me feeling unsatisfied, so when I read this book, my faith in reading was restored instantly! I was so tempted to do a full review of this book like I used to but that's just encouraging me to ramble on about this book in a likely incohesive manner so, let me try and summarise. I had already read Mr Salary (a short story by Sally Rooney) so I knew her writing style was one I could get behind and enjoy. Not just the writing style but the story was one I was fully engrossed in; it follows two teenagers from opposite backgrounds that become connected in high school and onto college. This isn't the young adult book I may have made it sound, but a story you think has been done 1000x before in such a different way.

You know how a book can feel warm and fuzzy but something happens to leave you crying at the end? This is the complete opposite - it gives a dull heartwrenching feeling throughout the whole book. You're rooting for the characters while simultaneously having your heart broken slowly. I devoured this book and I think you will too. I am already excited to read her other book Conversations with Friends very soon.

Sony Headphones

When my last pair of earphones broke, it was time to say goodbye to the love of Happy Plugs and I  switch it up with some headphones. I bought my dad the same headphones for Christmas a few years ago and he loves them, so I thought I'd pick the same up for myself. They're nothing groundbreaking - no Bluetooth, volume control, noise cancellation - but for me, they do the job. They are actually the perfect headphones for my commute and I love that they fold down really compact to make them the perfect size to fit in my bag. 

Brent by Jeremy Zucker & Chelsea Cutler

"What have you been using your new headphones to listen to, Sarah?" I hear you ask. Well, not long ago I discovered Jeremy Zucker who I have already shared my love of in a previous post. When this new EP with Chelsea Cutler appeared on my Spotify I had to give it a listen. They have such a melancholic sound with these slow songs that are easy to listen to. I've found it the perfect soundtrack while I'm reading as well as in the evening when I'm settling down. If you're looking for some new tracks to add to your chill, easy-listen playlist, I'd check this out. 

So there are a few more lifestyle favourites I've been loving lately. I find myself reaching for these every day and so I had to share them! 

What have you been loving lately? I'd love to hear any and all recommendations! 
Hope you're doing great, 
Sarah  x