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Illustration of person in middle of living room, listening to music and meditating.
Illustration: Laila Amer
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The Eye’s guide to avoiding burnout while the whole world is on fire

By Serena Lopez

Congratulations, you made it! With an ongoing pandemic that’s changed everything from the way we work and socialize to the impending climate crisis and conflicts around the world, you succeeded at being a student despite the triggers. Though your mental health was surely tested this year, self-care has never seemed more important for students just trying to juggle it all. Every day it seems there’s always a new hack into how to live a healthy life and take care of your mind, yet it’s not easy to find advice from those who have taken their own advice.

To no surprise, The Eyeopener is a campus paper run by students—students like yourself who are just trying to balance their passion for keeping people informed with having to write dry, boring papers on neoliberalism. And while we might make student journalism look oh so effortless, we get burnt out too.
We understand there are multiple layers to your existence outside of being a student, so The Eye has compiled a few tips to help remind you that truthfully, it’s OK not to be OK. When we’re not, some of our editors have each found their own ways of showing themselves some much needed love.

DO: Let your credit card do some work
A form of self-care that Laila Amer, photo editor at The Eye, practices for her mental health is to splurge on different things. For Amer, spending cash on clothing, jewellery and that convenient Uber service is her form of self-care. “I used to feel bad Ubering because I can just drive or figure out a commute, but not feeling as bad anymore! I always completely disconnect from work when it’s off-hours. I usually was always on the clock, but after a while I just couldn’t do it anymore.”

DON’T: Get yourself into more debt than necessary
While splurging feels great in the moment, it’s always to your benefit to not get too carried away by how many things you can buy that you want, but probably don’t need. But go ahead, treat yourself to that new $80 Harry Styles sea green vinyl or BTS hoodie with the matching Namjoon sweatpants—just not every day.

DO: Make time for your hobbies
After a long day of working, Abby Hughes, an online editor at The Eye, takes time to self-care by practicing hobbies she doesn’t normally have the time to do like playing guitar, knitting and crafting jewellery. “I think fiction, especially fantasy, is a great form of escapism. Being able to transport yourself somewhere else without tuning into a screen feels healthier than watching a movie to get out of your own head. Bonus points if you’re healing your inner child and re-reading childhood books; I re-read Alice in Wonderland recently and it was wonderful!”

DON’T: Blow all your cash on one self-care fad
If it’s going to cost you more than your tuition, is it really self-care? There’s absolutely no shame in picking up practices that already exist in your home and don’t require a big budget. “I think self-care is about assessing what you need, or what you’ve been lacking, and trying to bring balance back to your life,” says Hughes. “So whether you need to spend time alone, reconnect with friends, eat a good meal, move your body or escape your life altogether, you can find a way to do so that doesn’t involve feeding the $450 billion self-care industry.”

DO: Spend time on your favourite apps
Yes, really. While some may say too much screen time is already hurting us emotionally, our features editor Abeer Khan thinks the opposite when it comes to practicing self-care. To de-stress, Khan says she will devote anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half to scroll through TikTok or read fanfiction. “This is my time to enjoy my hobbies and immerse myself in a reality far removed from my own! On a good day (when I have time to spare), I also like hitting the gym and working out to clear my head and taking a break from sitting in my desk chair 25/8.”

DON’T: Procrastinate to no avail
We’ve all made that excuse of promising to watch just one more episode of Bridgerton and then, only then, will you start working on that third overdue assignment this week. The trap in doing things you actually enjoy as a part of your self-care routine is that you will naturally want to do them all the time, even if it means ditching adult responsibilities.
For feachies queen Khan, this kind of procrastination only serves to increase her anxiety. Instead she says, “I like to set times to work and take breaks throughout my day and try sticking to a schedule. Then, after I’m done, I can breathe freely.”

DO: Take time to let you, do you
Whatever that looks like for you, stick to it. Never underestimate the power in the little things you do every day that contribute to a healthier you. For our fun and satire editor, Rochelle Raveendran, that looks like doing activities such as watching compilation clips on YouTube from British panel shows, drinking water instead of diet coke and “ordering pasta on UberEats at an exorbitant price” to help destress during these awful, challenging times. “Also, cleaning my room while blasting original songs from the Gnomeo and Juliet soundtrack on my speaker.”

DON’T: Feel bad for needing a break, you deserve it!
Whether you choose to spend your time journalling or binge-watching episodes of Hot Ones, the purpose of self-care is prioritizing yourself for an hour or even five minutes a day. Your mental health matters. Life is already hard enough as it is without having to feel bad for wanting to do nothing.

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