Most of us know how stressful studies can be. We have assignments due, tests that has to be studied for, group work, etc. All of these things pile up, and we end up losing ourselves in the process at times. 

One way to combat all the stress and burnout is to really focus on self-care, and make sure we look after ourselves. To get a better understanding of how to balance successful studies and self-care, I asked students who are doing well in their studies, Lina Lukusa (25), Rafael Graca (22) and Tashreeqah Nero (25), to give us some tips. 

  • Briefly explain who you are and what you study.

Lina Lukusa – I am a master’s student in information systems at UCT. I’m working as a Python software developer. 

Rafael Graca – My name is Rafael Graça, I am from Angola and I am 22 years old and I am a BCom financial management graduate.

Tashreeqah Nero  –  My name is Tashreeqah Nero and I’m 25 years old and currently studying at the University of the Western Cape. I’m currently doing my third year of my masters in biodiversity conservation biology. 

  • What does self-care mean to you?

Lina Lukusa – For me, self-care means promoting optimal well-being and health for oneself by taking time to do things that help me live well. For example, it could be social care, spiritual care or physical care, such as going to the gym.

Rafael GracaSelf-care to me means taking care of yourself and that implies making sure that your mental and physical health is good at all times. To ensure that entails regularly assessing how you feel and if you are or are not about to reach the breaking point and burnout.

Tashreeqah Nero –  I would say self-care not only means taking care of the physical, it means taking care of the mental and the spiritual as well. In terms of the physical, it’s doing things that you love, that makes feel good. To me, that means eating healthy, that means doing fun activities like hiking or walking on the beach or something that makes my body feel good, but also makes me feel happy. I think the mental would then include doing things that I love, doing things that make me feel relieved and make me feel like peace and calm. Spiritual is the most important to me. It’s doing things that bring me closer to God because that ultimately makes me feel the best-taken care of. 

  • Do you think it’s possible to successfully balance your studies and self-care? If yes, how do you balance it?

Lina Lukusa – I believe it’s possible to successfully balance studies and self-care, but it’s very difficult. It’s a challenge to have a work-life balance because, as a student, we have so many deadlines, we have exams and we should attend every lecture. Therefore, it is far too easy to lose yourself. And when I started working, it became worse. 

I found it very difficult to have a social life and even to have healthy meals sometimes. This was until I decided to plan my activities. Not only plan, but respect them and be consistent. And I tried to create time in my schedule for a social life, for example, just to go for a walk in the park or spend quality time with family and friends – that has helped a lot. 

Rafael GracaYes, I think it is possible to balance both. I balance it by practicing sports and having a specific day (sabbath) to just rest on God. 

Playing football clears my mind since every time I go into the pitch, I think about nothing else but playing. It is a stress-free moment, and that, for me, is self-care. 

On my resting day, one day of the week, I make sure I turn off everything, and I just rest. I stay offline for a couple of hours and in that period, I either pray, listen to worship or sometimes I just completely do nothing. 

Tashreeqah NeroI think that it’s possible to succeed in both your studies and self-care. I think it all stems from understanding who you are, understanding what your needs are.

I needed to learn how to put my studies first. I need to put in the hard work. I need to put in the effort to reaching my goals. 

I feel that it’s important to reach those goals wholeheartedly but at the same time to know my limits. To know that I can’t work for 24 hours with only sleeping one hour, and trying to do it the next day. I need to take time to sleep, to take time out of my busy week on the weekend. Spend some time with people that make me feel good, and spend some time with my family. Rest is okay, you don’t have to feel guilty about it, and so I do believe that it is it is possible to balance the two; you just need to understand that both are important. When you are able to take care of yourself, you are able to work hard at university because you come from a place of not being exhausted, not being overwhelmed, not being too anxious.

Final word

One way to combat all the stress and burnout is to really focus on self-care. As you can see, self-care can mean different things to different people. Self-care for one person may mean watching a series all day, while another person’s self-care may mean taking a walk in nature. As long as you’re doing what works for you, then you should be able to balance your studies and self-care successfully.

Taking a break is okay and is needed. Make sure to make time for yourself; to do the things that help you unwind and destress. Take care!


Tell us: How do you balance your studies and self-care?

Read more here to learn more about self-care.