Self-Care, Self-Love and Nurturing in University

Studying for exams or tests can feel quite intense and stressful, however I have found that through making time to self-care, self-love, nurture and study in my own rhythm, studying can be much more fun, natural and easy.

In the past I have fallen for the belief that you have to focus only on your study in the exam period to achieve the best results, and this had a huge impact on how my body felt after the exams. I felt sadness, not because the exam did not go well, but because I could feel that the way I had studied was in disregard of my body.

I also felt tired – because I had pushed myself as I thought there was not enough time, and I did not always listen to the little signs when my body was asking me to stop and take a break or do something else for a moment.

It was also about the thoughts I allowed at times whilst studying, and how I treated myself. I would have thoughts such as “I will never pass this”’ and “I have not studied enough so I am very bad,” instead of feeling that I am a very tender, delicate, joyful woman who needs care, love and nurturing as my foundation, to then be able to do other things like studying without going into disregard for myself and my body.

After realising this I asked myself; can I study, care for, love and nurture myself at the same time? Wouldn’t this be a much greater way to study?

I have found that when I care for, love and nurture myself first and foremost, I can study in a way that is much more efficient and fun. I do not need to study long, arduous hours just to have read and be able to recall everything. Instead, I gain more of an understanding of what is important to remember for the exam by studying the things that are important and making sure I understand the bigger picture of what is being taught.

This is very powerful. I realised that when I am present with myself, as in not thinking about anything else while I am studying, I ‘just know’ what parts are important and I do not have to know every little detail and every page from the inside out to pass an exam.

In this way I am able to do so much more, in and besides my study, such as chatting with my family and friends, listening and dancing to some beautiful music or working in my job. This leaves me feeling alive and connected to people around me.

So, what are the simple self-caring, self-loving and nurturing things I choose to do to support me in this way?

  • I make sure I listen to my body, for example taking breaks before my mind feels foggy
  • Making sure I drink enough water throughout the day
  • I keep myself warm whilst studying, with tea and warm clothes (especially in winter)
  • Wearing clothes in which I feel beautiful and are comfortable at the same time, even if I am not going out that day
  • I eat foods I know will support me and prepare nourishing lunches to take with me to University
  • Going for a walk or choosing to exercise each day, as I find exercise and walking help me connect more deeply with my body
  • I make sure I create time to spend with other people, be it in the supermarket, with my family or with friends
  • I also love deeply caring for my body with warm showers with delicious douche gels and painting my nails in the colours I feel like
  • Going to bed when I feel tired and waking up early
  • Not studying in the evening as that makes it harder to sleep

Living in this way and going to the university is a world of difference from how I used to live and study. By taking care of myself first, I feel more solid in myself and am much more able to see the requirements of the university, and make a choice how to work with them.

The most important thing I find about living life and studying in University is knowing that everything is equally important, so that studying is as important as for instance exercising, cooking, spending time with friends, doing the dishes and spending time with myself.

In all this I find the way I am with myself is key to support me through University and life.

I am forever inspired by the teachings and presentations of Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine, who taught me to first love and care for myself before doing anything else.

by Lieke van Haastrecht, 24, Student in Dentistry, Ghent, Belgium

Further reading:
Surviving University
How to Study without Stress… Yes!

 

583 thoughts on “Self-Care, Self-Love and Nurturing in University

  1. To know that everything is equally important in our lives is a little gem of wisdom as so often in the past I placed more importance in certain areas of my life and not on others….. well that created much struggle….. When I stay connected with my body, it becomes so much easier to bring quality of presence to all that I do. Thank you Leike for this awesome blog.

    1. I’ve found exactly the same thing jacqumcfadden04! As soon as I begin to place more focus on one area of my life more than another, things start to go out of balance and feel quite stressful and complicated. The key as you say, and for me too, is staying connected with my body, and to bring this presence into everything I do.

    2. Great observation jacqmcfadden04 and Lieke staying connected to our body naturally brings greater presence to all that we do and as you both share we come to see that everything in our life is equally important, all parts making up the whole.

  2. I never went to university, but wow I am amazed how unloving it can be with what I read and hear from others. It will be a hard nut to crack but certainly we need to start chipping away to find new, more loving ways to educate ourselves – ways that do not take us into so much disregard and exhaustion. Who ever decided that disregard and exhaustion was something people wanted!? Its no surprise that people are getting sicker. Listening to the presentations by Serge Benhayon has inspired me to know that there is a way of implementing Love into Education that is inspiring and fun.

  3. Is it self-care a strategy to endure better hard times? Or is it a way of living life irrespective of the circumstances?
    Is it about bettering our lives? Or is it about clearing the way to be able to concentrate in what we need to concentrate in order to keep evolving as a human being?

  4. This is perfect timing for me to read your blog Lieke, as I am currently studying for 2 exams and your words of wisdom are a beautiful support and inspire me to deepen my self care and self love at this time.

  5. A great reminder that we don’t have to starve ourselves of loving care when we’re studying or revising and that nurturing ourselves before and throughout the process supports our learning as it boosts our vitality and assists our focus and recall.

  6. After reading your blog again Lieke I cannot help but wonder if sometimes we have been conditioned by society to only study to pass our exams – instead of learning to build our knowledge and wisdom for the soul purpose of not only preparing us all for the responsibilities of adulthood but so we can bring the understanding of all that we have learned to our chosen profession and workplaces. Would that not make a healthier workplace and society in general??

    1. Great point Suse, I felt this also. I spent my time at University cramming information into my head the night before and exam and promptly forgetting most of it once the exam was over. I achieved high marks this way at a great cost to my body and yet this way of studying was championed and accepted. When I look back at how I was at this time I am horrified as I can see that the way I studied did not allow for any true wisdom and did not support me to learn anything that could truly benefit others.

      It is inspiring to know that when Lieke begins to work as a dentist she will do so from the solid foundation she built through her studies and each and every one of her clients will benefit from her commitment to herself.

    2. Brilliant comment Suse. During my student years I was very focused on passing my exams and courses, the pressure to perform and achieve was very high. How supportive would it be if we taught students about self-care, self-nurture and self-love as well? I feel it would definitely support a healthier workplace and society for sure.

  7. I love this Lieke. Its such a grand support. How most people approach studying is so different yet not making one thing more important than another and listening to whats going to support you at the time makes sense.

  8. There is the potential for us to push ourselves in absolutely anything that we do. Being aware of this fact and committing to purpose and quality supports us to stay present focused and prevent that push from taking us off track.

  9. When you think about it the current education system really is quite insular and does not fully prepare us to graduate and come out into the real world in a practical sense with nearly enough awareness of how to balance both our work and life responsibilities.

  10. “I realised that when I am present with myself, as in not thinking about anything else while I am studying, I ‘just know’ what parts are important and I do not have to know every little detail and every page from the inside out to pass an exam.” This sentence was a standout for me today Lieke because I can see that it applies to every aspect of life. I often feel like I do not know what to do next, especially when I feel as though there is a lot to do. You show me that the way through this self made confusion is very simple if I connect to myself and choose to be present.

  11. Lieke, I wish that I had know what you are sharing here when I was a student at school and at university. Because I didn’t and because I had no concept of caring and nurturing myself I sacrificed my body for months every year up to and including taking the examination and in doing so I turned life into a heartless grind of an existence. I lost connection with myself and others and withdrew into a life of utter misery. Your way sounds such a delight in comparison!

  12. I have divided up life Lieke into areas that are more important than others, and I can see how this creates issues in my life, instead of treating every part of life equally. It also has removed the focus from myself and my presence, to the outside world. I can see by making one area more important my whole life goes out of balance.

  13. Awesome blog Lieke, this is very supportive. Your list of self-caring, self-loving and nurturing things are brilliant, I can apply this to how I work. When I was a student, I felt overwhelmed, tried, stressed and unhappy about a lot of things. Your blog would have been hugely support for me back then. So, a massive thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience as this will support many, many people world-wide to learn how to support ourselves with our studies and work.

  14. This is such an insightful and supportive sharing Lieke. As I too have discovered that when we confirm who we are, the greatness we are through self-love, self-care and self-nurturing we actually create space for our knowing-ness to guide us. With this quality of presence we make choices that then support us to work, study or live in a way that not only honors our essence within, but also honors the intelligence we already hold in our bodies.

  15. Thank you Lieke for this helpful blog. Just by reading about your self-caring and self-nurturing rituals I can feel the rhythm you have established for yourself.

  16. Beautiful advice to offer all students “I asked myself; can I study, care for, love and nurture myself at the same time? Wouldn’t this be a much greater way to study?”

  17. Thoughts can be so harming to our wellbeing if we allow them to enter and indulge in them. It is because I have come to know that those thoughts are not true but something I have created to abuse myself.

  18. I have found, after returning to uni this year, that living a balanced life is what supports me the most, ie. being with my family, studying or working on assignments, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning etc. When all this is in balance (as much as possible) then the time I spend on uni flows more easily. Something I have been learning recently is that sometimes the schedule uni has is not always the rhythm that is most supportive, so I have had to reschedule exams, ask for assignment extensions, and simply honour my body or the urgent situation that may have arisen to be dealt with. This is caring for myself and others, and not allowing uni to take over and dominate, which it can easily do if allowed to. Loving ourselves deeply is what holds us steady while at uni, as it is a very heavy and intense environment to be in.

  19. Its easy to get caught in perfection when you are studying, it becomes like an obsession and the “better” you are at an exam or an assignment, the higher worth and satisfaction you feel, but how long does that satisfaction actually last? And is it really worth it? Maybe what we are really craving is contentment, not a flitting high of doing well only to have to chase the next grade in order to achieve that feeling again . Keeping your mind and body focused on the broader picture is a great approach to study, not getting bogged down by the details and instead remembering that everything in life is equally important.

    1. “it becomes like an obsession and the “better” you are at an exam or an assignment, the higher worth and satisfaction you feel, but how long does that satisfaction actually last?” Very true Sarah, I have often felt an excitement to going to an exam and see how much I could answer the questions correctly. After I started the exam I would already get the first dip of not being able to answer all the questions and the the second dip after the exam of is this it? Was this all I looked forward to and I would feel empty in myself as had made the exam more important than the connection with myself and the world and feel the consequences of that. Nowadays I have this less to not at all as I do honour myself when studying and don’t put it higher than myself.

      1. That’s awesome news, I suppose the study element prepares the foundation for the energy you do or don’t go into in the exam.
        I have been considering that this perfectionism we spoke of earlier, can play out in each of us differently, re-reading my comment above you would think I had studied at some point in my life but I actually dropped out of school before exams started, in what we call year 10 in Australia. At the time I was in love with a boy who had left school and thought I was going to be a famous actress and didn’t need school. In truth though, they were just stories, I was really scared of doing “badly” in an exam and had such judgment on myself that I preferred to completely avoid study than fail at it. The cop out exposed itself, I was going to base my worth on how I did in high school, so if I didn’t do it, I always had the unknown comfort of, I might have done really well, if I had tried.
        I have no issue with people leaving school if they feel strongly about a future for themselves that does not require school but to run away from a fear is never the answer.

  20. Hello Lieke and I love your approach to all of this by seeing it as one and not making one more important or overriding another. We all live in a busy busy world but it’s how we are in that busyness that makes the difference. As you are saying keeping the bigger picture about what you are doing and not getting caught in one track makes a huge difference and presence is the key. How often do you see your thoughts go into do it this way because that way didn’t work or the thought of this is better than before or I’m glad it’s not like it was before or I wish the future to be better all these thoughts and actions from these thoughts are out of the present. If we hold true that we have no need to carry the past or wish for the future because everything is here with us in the present. So dedicate to what is in front of you no matter what the heading and from there everything else will be taken care of. We create alternate realities including past and future to keep us from seeing the power in the presence. Spend more time here and in the present and you will find as you are saying it is all one and the same.

  21. Seeing the bigger picture feels like the key to revising for exams and to living a well-rounded life. When we get caught in the momentum of must pass this exam to the exclusion of everything else we forfeit any balance in our lives and lose sight of the wider purpose of why we are studying. The practical tips you share feel so supportive for anyone who is caught up not just at uni but in any aspect of their lives that has become more important than everything else including looking after themselves in a deeply self-loving way.

  22. I love how you share that when you are fully present whilst studying then you ‘just know’ which parts are important. Making a commitment to being present with whatever activity you are doing supports the connection that allows us to tune into what is required in any situation without expending lots of unnecessary energy trying to cover every eventuality.

    1. I agree Helen and then I realised that I can apply exactly the same approach to my work when it feels intense, if I stay with myself I will feel what is important and what is needed next rather than taking on unnecessary stress to get it sorted.

  23. It’s revealing when we come to do something we deem as important or work or study that we want to have more care or take more care in it. I’m not saying this isn’t a great step but at the same time seeing that if we had that same level or openness with what we perceive as the mundane or the everyday task then this would flow out to every task or even movement. We often want to look at the ‘big’ or ‘important’ things because they give us something while other things we may do every day just remain that, an everyday thing. But what would be more powerful in your life, something you do for a part or something you do all the time? The all the time task or movement is the key. No matter what the task, if we can dedicate to bringing all we are to the everyday the every movement then this would support, well everything. Therefore it wouldn’t matter if you were driving a bus, mixing cement, pouring a drink it would all be there as an extension of what was already there. I can see how I put life in parts and label all the parts or rate them when in fact it’s all the same and all a part of each other.

  24. Lieke, I deeply appreciate that what you share in this blog. As when we only concentrate ourselves on that what has to be done we are loosing our connection with that part of us that is so wise and connected to the all and is able to naturally show us how to be in life and bring that exquisite quality to whatever is in front of us.

    1. Yes Nico, that is true. University can sometimes feel like ‘I will live me in full when I have finished Uni’, but I think that by that time we then would have built such a momentum of that delaying it, that it becomes then very hard to change that suddenly. In other words when we have been unloving for long suddenly expressing lovingly is not that easy, though very possible.

      1. Sure Lieke, everything is possible and it is never to late. As we are from love expressing love would not be the issue, but if we have built layers of delay in our bodies we first have to undo those before we will have full access to that love and are able to give expression to it in full.

  25. ‘The most important thing I find about living life and studying in University is knowing that everything is equally important, so that studying is as important as for instance exercising, cooking, spending time with friends, doing the dishes and spending time with myself.’ A simple yet wise message for millions of students the world over. Thank you Lieke.

  26. “I have found that when I care for, love and nurture myself first and foremost, I can study in a way that is much more efficient and fun” Brilliant Lieke – every uni student – indeed every person – would benefit from reading your blog. Every action we take is important – from teeth cleaning to presenting a project. All dependent upon the quality of energy we are in when we undertake any task.

  27. You could equally write ‘Self-Care, Self-Love and Nurturing in Work’ as we are all stressing out about the same things in the workplace and through our working lives. Its huge that you have clocked this University and found a different way as that will support you throughout life. Also it will show others a different way and that tearing your hear out may not be the only solution!

  28. LIeke I love your list of how you nurture you whilst studying, it is beautiful how these things feed you back the love they do to support you during this time…. Being with you always and giving equal importance to each part rather than compartmentalizing is a profound teaching and a deeply loving and inspirational way to move through life that we all deeply benefit from embracing.

  29. ‘The most important thing I find about living life and studying in University is knowing that everything is equally important, so that studying is as important as for instance exercising, cooking, spending time with friends, doing the dishes and spending time with myself.’ This is such a huge learning for life, understanding that nothing is more important than the next thing. I so often prioritise others before caring for myself and I end up at the bottom of the pile. This is a great reminder for me at the start of a new week as my body is telling me loud and clear that I need to prioritise looking after me, or else I will not be fit and well enough to care for and support others.

  30. Great blog Lieke, I loved your list because it is applicable to all of us, I read through it and felt reminded about putting the practical caring components into my own everyday working life. Beautiful to read how caring and supportive you are being to yourself during this time.

  31. The same applies to how we work. When I make my life all about my work and get lost in it, I feel foggy and disconnected – and the work is a lesser quality. By learning to connect more to my body, take breaks when I need to, notice when I’m feeling distracted and need to focus more on what I’m doing, I’m much more productive and enjoying work more.

  32. Thank you Lieke, what you have presented here is revolutionary for all who are willing to let go of ideals and beliefs around studying being an arduous task usually done at the expense of your body, as you have presented – it is all about living with a certain quality in our bodies that allows us to express it in everything that we do making anything that we’d consider complicated or time-consuming just simple and joyous for all.

  33. I love this Lieke, how in fact when we take care of the foundation of looking after us, we can see how to be in life so that is does not take over or overwhelm us, we see the foundations of what is necessary and how we can stay us in it. A very valuable sharing thank you.

  34. Love what you have shared here Lieke, I have just had an exam period and feel that it has taken its toll, and can see that the way I prepared haven’t supported me to care for myself and be myself in full confidence of knowing enough for the exams. Which I have felt before, it is all about taking ourselves seriously and know that caring for ourselves is much more important than, having of time, or get high grades. As it all feeds our feeling of emptiness and the sadness you also shared about.

    1. Yes, as soon as we see ourselves less than knowing exactly how much we have to study to be prepared for an exam or any situation in life, we let in doubt that will take its toll on our body in many ways. It at least disturbs the harmony between study and rest and time with friends or family that otherwise would naturally be there. It is that disturbance of balance that makes us so exhausted and worn down.

  35. Imagine if there were compulsory subjects in schools of all levels, primary and secondary schools, universities, tafe courses and trade apprenticeships etc simply on self-care and how to master the work life balance during and after you graduate… I can only wonder what transformation would this bring to our workplaces and world around us if we graduated from an education system that had practical and foundational subjects that actually prepare you for life, not just work.

  36. This is a wonderfully powerful blog for how to support yourself through your studies or University. I find it is extra important to be aware of how I am feeling, if I am cold, have eaten well and am rested because all of these things determine how efficient I will be in my study. If I don’t look after myself then the nervous energy comes in, I start to doubt myself, over compensate and eat foods that just feed that pattern of behaviour. I have a degree in that pattern of behaviour so I know it all too well, but there is another way and you have shared how it is possible so thank you.

  37. “I have found that when I care for, love and nurture myself first and foremost, I can study in a way that is much more efficient and fun.” This blog has such important information for anyone who is studying to read and know about. Exam season is coming up in the UK.

  38. I love the wisdom you have shared Lieke, too often students bury their heads in their study books and don’t make time to eat well, exercise or nurture themselves at all, no wonder some of them end up feeling totally burnt out at the end of the semester. What you offer here is a powerful way to study where you don’t lose yourself and you continue to self-care and be self-loving throughout the study period this is super supportive and inspiring for anyone who is a student.

  39. Working with deadlines, in this case your exams are a way to come to an end result at a certain point and nothing else counts anymore until this point is accomplished… as if the world stands still. So we lower our level of self-care and self-love in ‘stress full’ times when we need it more then ever. Your question ‘can I study, care for, love and nurture myself at the same time? Wouldn’t this be a much greater way to study?’ is therefore a very needed one for everyone in situations where they feel they make one thing more important than themselves.

  40. Self-care is such an important foundation. It makes a difference to not only our wellbeing but also how we are through the whole of our life. The biggest thing that I have found is that the more that self-care naturally becomes a part of my every day life in the ordinary things that I do, I end up enjoying people and the things I do even more and are less likely to be affected by people.

  41. What if all the university students learnt how to care, love and nurture themselves as part of their curriculum? Learning to bring love into whatever they do in their profession? That would be so amazing.

  42. A great lesson to learn while at University Lieke. When we make everything equally important, we then have balance and no one thing gets more attention or becomes a focus to stress about. I wish I had met you when I was at university.

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