Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Top Tips for Self-Care as a Sabbatical Officer

Meg shares her experience of practising self-care as a sabbatical officer.
- Meg Price

Sabbatical Officers, by their nature, want to help others and will commonly put a long list of things and people before themselves. In the blog below I’ll be listing my top tips for practising self-care as a Sabb!**

‘Open Door Policy’


Set boundaries and (try and) stick to them. We all pride ourselves on being open and accessible to students, but it can be particularly difficult to manage an ‘open door policy’ online. Have a think about things like logging out of work accounts, notifications settings and emails. There are no hard and fast ‘rules’ around this and you shouldn’t feel guilty for crossing your own boundaries from time to time but it’s important to think about where your baseline boundaries lie and what is sustainable for you.

Practice What You Preach


Use University (or external) services. We spend a lot of our time signposting students to support services or activities to help with their mental wellbeing. There is also the benefit of genuinely being able to recommend these services to students having checked them out yourself! If you don’t think university services are up to scratch or don’t feel comfortable using them you can always access external links or use fantastic online resources like the Student Minds Student Space.

It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint 


Everyone says your time as a Sabb will fly by. As a second year I can say that it is truest thing about being a Sabb. You’ll want to maximize your effect during your time in office but it’s important to remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Take Annual Leave - You Have It For A Reason 


It’s really hard to let go, particularly if you’re working from home but it’s important to take time for you. Having a sustainable approach to your work is massively underrated and can not only make work more enjoyable but also more productive.

We’re All In This Together


Surprisingly other Sabbs are in the same boat, talk to them! Being a Sabb is a completely unique experience. Sometimes this can make it quite a lonely experience where you think no one quite understands what you’re going through not matter how hard you try to explain. Talk to other Sabbs. Whether it’s taking time to talk about your day with other sabbs at your SU or dropping a message in a group WhatsApp chat, it’s likely that someone else has or is going through similar things to you. Even if they’re not, Sabbs are pretty awesome people and will generally be great listeners.

You Are Not Alone


SUs should be set up to support you. We are living in ‘unprecedented’ times and everything around us is a bit topsy-turvy. And yet some things remain the same – your Students’ Union should not only be set up to help you achieve your objectives but also to help your development as an individual, and that includes looking after your health and wellbeing. Talk to your CEO or General Manager if you’re struggling they will be able to support you and help you access any support you might need.

Believe in yourself. 


We talk a lot about student expectations about their experience but as Sabbs we can often put pressure on ourselves. This year things will certainly be different; you might have to adapt your manifesto or take more time to achieve what you set out to. That is okay. It’s important to remember that not only did people vote you in for your manifesto but they also voted for you to make the decisions in between. I’m a big fan of podcasts and would recommend ‘How to Fail’ by Elizabeth Day and pretty much anything by Brene Brown.

You Are A Human and Still Technically A Student


Sometimes we forget being this weird student/non-student hybrid that information around student mental health actually applies to us too. That includes stuff like taking to time to get out and exercise or putting on your favourite Netflix series. Check out the other blogs at Student Minds for more top tips on topics such as ‘How to cope with post lock down anxiety’.

Balance is Key


It’s really easy to list off all of these self-care tips and pretend like it’s easy to achieve all of them all of the time. Sometimes we will overwork ourselves – everyone does from time to time - but keep an eye on the balance and practice some self-care. You are all awesome and doing a great job!

** Full disclaimer: I’m not some superhuman Sabb who does all of these things all of the time but hopefully some of these tips are helpful to others!

Check out Student Minds for more advice on looking after your mental wellbeing at university.



Hi, my name is Meg and I’m President at Worcester Students’ Union and a second year sabbatical officer. I’m passionate about student mental health and the role of SUs in supporting mental wellbeing. I’m also super passionate about looking after those who campaign around student mental health too!

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