Lets be real, college is a stressful time. From moving in, to making friends, to passing classes, college students have a lot on their plates. Its easy to feel buried under a mountain of stress that seems completely out of your control, especially when things stop going according to plan, like if you fail a class or finish your first semester without a solid friend group. Self care, when practiced properly, can be a life saver during college.
But it can be hard to make time for self care when you're already juggling classes, homework, a job and time with friends. This guide is here to provide ideas for self care formulated to fit into a college student's schedule, as well as hopefully give some helpful tips about how you can start to develop your own self care routine. Self care looks different for every person, and even for each person their care can change day by day. Whats important to remember is that there is no wrong way to practice self care, and if an action makes you feel confident, happy, and relaxed, then you're doing things right.
Plan for it
Most college students find themselves with packed schedules. There's so much happening on college campuses, and its a good idea to take it all in! Saying yes to opportunities is a great way to broaden your horizons, meet new people and grow outside your comfort zone. While you're planning out weekly events, study time, or whatever else, jot down time for self care. Give yourself an hour, 30 minutes, 15 minutes, whatever works for you. Don't plan too much, just give yourself the time and space to have no plans whatsoever, and then whatever you feel like doing that day, go and do it.
Give up on things that don't work
I've tried to force myself to be a morning person for years. It never works. I love staying up late in sleeping in till 10. I do my best work after the sun goes down, and nothing makes me grumpier than having to get up before I'm ready. So I stopped trying to wake up and be productive, which is okay! If you hate journaling, don't do it! If you don't like yoga, stop going to classes! If you can't bring yourself to meditate, try something else! Trying to force yourself into a routine or an activity that just isn't working is stupid, and may be making you more miserable in the long run.
I'm a big fan of putting away the phone and limiting my time on social media. I'm very guilty of mindlessly scrolling for hours and then walking away feelings drained and grumpy. But at the same time, our phones and computers hold valuable resources to help you with self care, like this blog post! There are youtube tutorials, blog posts, internet articles, websites and apps that can aide you in whatever it is you want to do for self care. Apps to remind you to drink water, youtube videos to walk you through a yoga flow, and light hearted games to play on your phone to help you relax or that make you smile. I love playing Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, it always puts me in a better mood. I also really like using Pinterest, and I always leave the website feeling more inspired. Don't doubt the power of technology, when used properly it can be an valuable tool.
Take a look at your environment
This can mean a lot of things. Maybe your dorm room isn't decorated the way you want, or maybe your college as a whole doesn't feel like the right fit. Some things about our environment are easy to change. You can totally change your comforter and put up a new poster and feel like a brand new woman, but switching colleges in the middle of the year is a bit more difficult. A person's environment can greatly affect them, and if you're feeling upset or overwhelmed its important to take a step back and look at what you've been surrounding yourself with, and what you can change about your environment to make you feel better. Maybe you've been hanging out with the wrong group of people, or you're bored sitting in your room all day. There are lots of things we can't change, but there are even more things that we can. Create a space and a lifestyle that is good for you and that makes you happy, and don't settle for anything less.
Think about the times when you feel the most like yourself, and do them as much as possible
If you feel happiest, or the most free to be yourself, when you're alone working on a painting, paint every day. If you feel the most like yourself when you're getting dinner with your friends, get dinner with them as much as you can. Make time for the activities that bring you joy and the situations where you feel the most like you. In the end, that's what self care is all about. Its activities, actions, and mindsets that allow us to live authentically. And living authentically means no holding back, and no feeling bad, just living your life fully in the way that makes you happy.
I wish you all the best of luck this August, whether you're going off to college, high school, or just getting out of the summer mindset! Self care is important for all people in all stages of life, and the sooner you develop healthy habits the better. Don't let the weight of the world get you down, stand up and carve out a life that has meaning and purpose and brings you nothing but joy!
Follow for poems, stories and essays.