A college student’s guide to self-care

Taking time for one’s own wellbeing is an essential part of a successful college career. Graphic by Maria Nevada

Hanna Stock

Through all the chaos of everyday life, we tend to forget one very important task each day: taking care of yourself.

As a college student, I’m guilty of forgetting to take care of myself. Drowning in endless amounts of homework and always being on the go, it’s easy to forget about self-care. Self-care is about being kind to yourself and recognizing when you’re running low and taking a step back to replenish. If you struggle with putting yourself and your mental health first, fear no more. I’ve learned a few simple tricks of the trade to refuel the mind, body and soul.

Get a pedicure or massage, take a nice relaxing hot bath, buy a new outfit that makes you feel good. Go to dinner at your favorite restaurant or stay in on a Friday night and binge-watch your favorite show while eating your favorite take-out. After looking at my planner and seeing a full week of things I need to get done, I need some motivation to push through. Whether you plan a spa day or a night in doing absolutely nothing, it’s refreshing to have something to look forward to each week.

Spirituality isn’t just about being religious. If you’re not religious, there are many ways to be in tuned with your mind and mental state. These tips can even help you cope with stress, depression and anxiety.

  • Read a daily devotional
  • Keep a journal and write down what you are grateful for
  • Listen to a guided meditation
  • Attend a religious service or pray
  • Be creative, draw, paint, write or dance
  • Listen to positive podcasts
  • Read a self-care or self-help book
  • Take a day off from social media

A day off from social media is something I would challenge everyone to do. Platforms such as Facebook or Instagram, only show the highlight reels of peoples’ lives and aren’t realistic. People don’t show their emotional breakdown after a breakup or their struggle with addiction. Don’t compare your life to someone else’s highlight reel; you don’t know what goes on behind the screens.

Your physical well-being shouldn’t be pushed to the side. You don’t have to go to the gym or run a marathon to treat your body well. “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t!” Those are the infamous words of Elle Woods from “Legally Blonde” and she couldn’t be more right. If the gym isn’t your thing there are other ways to get your body moving each day.

  • Dance to your favorite songs
  • Do yoga or a workout video (Free on YouTube)
  • Go on a walk with a friend, dog or simply yourself
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Walk around the mall or a park.

Lastly, physical self-care is also about recognizing when your body is exhausted. Take a 20-minute nap. Don’t push your body to do an exercise routine when you’re run down or unwell.

Social self-care can vary whether you’re an introvert or extrovert. Overall, we need to connect with people whether it’s a parent, sibling or best friend. Being around other people helps fight loneliness and isolation.

  • Make plans with the person who makes you the happiest
  • Reach out to loved ones and tell them how much they mean to you
  • Distance yourself from those who undermine or put you down
  • Join a support group
  • Step outside of your comfort zone and meet new people

Emotional health and mental health go hand and hand. Not one person on this earth is happy or positive all the time. Life is a roller coaster with constant ups and downs. It’s easy to hide our emotions, put on a smile and pretend everything is ok. Once you find the right coping mechanisms to deal with your emotions, it will only help you in the long run when things turn sour.

  • Write about your feelings or vent to someone you trust
  • See a therapist
  • Let yourself cry and release the emotions you’re bottling up
  • Watch funny videos or shows that make you laugh
  • Exercise! Remember working out gives you endorphins

These are only a few tips I’ve learned along the way that have truly benefited my self-care journey. Remember self-care isn’t selfish. The only way we can be the best versions of ourselves is to take care of yourself.