Global Business School for Health


How to practise self-care as a GBSH student

15 December 2023

Navigate winter as a GBSH student with our student ambassador Esther's essential self-care tips, from listening to your body to Vitamin D supplementation, in her latest blog.

How to practise self-care as a GBSH student

Knowing this time of the year could be pretty challenging; with daylight getting shorter, the holiday season almost over and the assignment season in full swing, maintaining your mental wellbeing can be a real challenge. Thanks to the gloomy and depressing London weather, you are probably susceptible to winter depression (a.k.a. Seasonal affective disorder).  Forewarned is forearmed; get to deal with challenging thoughts and feelings. As a pharmacist, here are some effective self-care strategies you can use to thrive in this daunting and demanding environment.    

1. Listen to your body 
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Don’t be like “Jack”. Pay attention to your physical and emotional cues. Take breaks when you're feeling exhausted or overwhelmed. Don't overload your schedule; learn to prioritise your core academic responsibilities. Plan daily breaks to step away from work, stretch, and recharge your mental batteries. Mindfulness practices like meditation or deep breathing can help to manage stress and improve focus, so dedicate 10-15 minutes daily for self-care.

2. Vitamin D supplementation 
Low Vitamin D is often associated with depression and anxiety. During autumn and winter, the sun is not strong enough for our body to produce sufficient Vitamin D. Thus, you might consider supplementing to replenish the Vitamin D levels, mainly if you have limited sunlight exposure or are at risk for deficiency.  

3. Sleep well 
Academic pressure, shorter days and colder weather can wreak havoc on your circadian rhythm. Please don’t underestimate the impact of a good night’s sleep on our wellbeing. You will feel renewed and energised for the entire day with proper rest. Embracing cosy costs such as a cup of warm milk, snuggling up with a good book, listening to lo-fi music or having a candlelit bubble bath before bed can ease down your stress mode and signal your body it’s time to wind down. 
Bonus tip: Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening, as they can disrupt sleep quality. Opt for chamomile tea or warm milk in the hours leading up to bedtime. Disconnecting from social media and reducing screen time two hours before bedtime will help minimise exposure to blue light. 
Remember, prioritising sleep during your master's program is an investment in your overall wellbeing and academic success.  


4. Physical wellness 
Stay active and exercise at least three times a week to stay fit. A home workout is a good idea when the weather is bad during the winter. Exercise is a great way to manage stress and anxiety as our body releases endorphins and mood elevators for our brain.   

5. Social interaction
Social interaction can combat loneliness and provide emotional support. Casual catch-ups with friends or a lunch date will elevate your mood and improve your wellbeing. For international students, I feel you if you experienced homesickness as you stepped into a new environment and left your loved one behind. You are just one phone call away from your loved ones. Schedule video calls with your family members and friends, which will help to shoo the dark clouds away. Connecting with fellow international students from your home country, cooking your favourite dish, celebrating familiar holidays, or listening to music from your homeland will help keep a piece of your home culture alive.

video call

6. Embrace the nature
It can be tempting to devote yourself to studying and staying indoors in this cold weather, but I strongly suggest making time in your packed schedule to have fun. Get exposed to natural sunlight as much as possible, but at the same time, stay warm in this chilly weather. If you have not yet explored London or the UK, it’s time to collaborate with your friends to explore! Go out. Please have fun; your body and mind will thank you.  


7. Ask for help 
Well, Master's study is not a bed of roses, and it is exceptionally more challenging if you are an international student struggling with the cold weather, homesickness and cultural differences. Many people struggle with their mental health at some point in their lives. If you are struggling with mental health, please reach out for help and support. If you feel like it’s getting too much for you, don't hesitate to ask for help and support from UCL Student Support and Wellbeing. Remember, you are not alone! You may call UCL's 24/7 Student Support Line at +44 (0) 808 238 0077; there will be someone for you. The adviser will offer support in, but not limited to, stress, financial, relationship, or family issues.

“Everything passes, this; this pass.”

Remember, self-care is not a luxury but a necessity. You'll be better equipped to handle the program's challenges and achieve your academic and personal goals by prioritising your wellbeing. Don't be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you. You've got this!