Four Simple Self-Care Hacks- Sally Hartl-McWilliam

By Sally Hartl-McWilliam

Taking care of yourself during busy times is a tough gig. With assignments stacking up and exam dates looming closer, it can be hard to prioritise self-care. But it’s important you do. Here’s four simple hacks for doing just that. 

 1. Set realistic expectations 

Rather than aiming for 3 x 1 hr intense workouts each week, start with manageable chunks of time. Whether it’s a short walk or a bit of yoga, setting aside small bits of time makes it easier to fit into your schedule. A handy hack for putting this into practise is to set your alarm for 5 minutes before the hour during study times. Use this five mins to get up and walk around the block or find a short stretch / relaxation clip from You Tube.  

Taking short regular breaks and including movement as part of those breaks will improve memory retention, focus and problem solving. And even more importantly, it’ll make you feel good! 

 2. Book the appointment (with yourself!)  

It can be easy get stuck behind a computer or inside a study book when there’s just so much work to get through. When you’re super busy it seems like a no brainer to shut everything out and just keep studying. But this can lead to major brain fog and writers’ block. At the start of the week, schedule off some time for self-care and do not miss this appointment! Self-care doesn’t always mean bubble baths and massages. Try one of the following: 

  • Going for a walk 
  • Listening to a funny podcast 
  • Coffee & chats with a friend 
  • Meditation / deep breathing 
  • Playing sport 

3. Use the time you already have. 

Most people think they don’t have enough time for exercise. I get it, I really do, it can be hard to juggle everything that’s going on without even thinking about adding in exercise! Here’s the thing, you don’t need any extra time. You just need to use the time you already have, differently. Here’s a few ways you can combine movement with study, without taking away from precious study time. 

  • Listen to lectures while walking or stretching 
  • Go for a walk with your study partner and test each other’s knowledge 
  • Take your study notes to the gym. Do 20 mins on the bike or elliptical while reading.  

The goal is not to burn calories or exhaust yourself. Rather to give your body a break from the desk and power up your energy levels. By combining gentle movement with continued learning you’ll feel energised and prepared for anything your lecturer throws at you.   

4. Balance is a sexy word 

Okaythe word itself isn’t exactly sexy, but it’s definitely something you should keep in mind. As a fitness coach, I encourage my clients to drink wine, eat cheese and move their bodies. The key is doing each of these things in moderation. Finding balance between healthy living and ‘letting go’ makes implementing those healthy habits way easier. This isn’t a licence to binge on Maltesers and watch seven seasons of Suits, just to enjoy both sides of life. The ‘all or nothing’ approach rarely works, finding balance does.  

Use these four handy hacks to make self-care a part of your uni life. In preparation for this article I did some digging and found out what past uni students have to say about fitting movement in with super busy study times. Here’s what they said: 

It forced me to think differently and energized me.’  – Paul Farmer 

‘I had to exercise to keep my head right. 20 mins is perfect to have a rest and then refocus back to the task.’ –  Carlicia Mellick   

‘ It’s often during those small breaks where I go for a walk that I have a breakthrough idea for a project. It makes me work more efficiently and gives my creativity an edge.’ – Natalie Thompson 

There you have it. Which one of these four hacks will you start using this week? 


Sally is an international body positive fitness coach. She helps women feel more confident in their bodies using a compassionate approach to fitness. Find Sally on Facebook & Instagram by searching ‘Fit With Sally.’ She loves cheese and thinks burpees suck!  


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