We’ve all heard it. Self-care, self-care, self-care. To me, sometimes it sounds less like a vital part of life and more like a trend I want to boycott just because I don’t like people telling me what to do. (Facemasks are only going to get you so far in life, people.)
After living this college life for a couple years, though, my eyes have been opened to why self-care shouldn’t just be something we brush over. Between classes and grades and extracurriculars and jobs and relationships, it’s easy to lose yourself. Self-care isn’t forgetting about all other people to just “treat yo’ self,” as Tom Haverford would say. Self-care consists of the basic routines we should be doing anyways in order to maintain a healthy, balanced life. Don’t think of it as self-care – just think of it as living.
- Exercise. Maybe that seems like an obvious one to you. Or maybe you’re like me and told yourself that all the walking you’ll be doing will be enough. I hate to break it to you people, but… campus may be big but it’s not that big. I encourage you to take time to go to the gym. You aren’t always going to have a free membership to a nice rec center within walking distance of where you live. You need to sweat. Seriously sweat. After a tough day, go run it off. Or, try something new. This is your chance to become a kickboxing master or a Zumba goddess. You’ll have fun, but more importantly it’ll clear your mind and strengthen your body.
- Sleep. I am talking more than 5 hours a night. That’s just not sustainable. My dad used to take naps on Sunday afternoons and I thought he was the biggest baby…. Until I read a study that proved you can actually catch up on sleep. Y’all. Don’t be afraid of a Sunday afternoon nap. Or an 8 p.m. nap before a long night of studying. Your brain cells need it and, speaking from personal experience, it works. And IT’S FREE. Speaking of money, I also want to draw your attention to a fairly new invention that is not free (but quite arguably worth the money): a weighted blanket. Until you have felt the glory that is a weighted blanket, I can only leave you with the following word image. Imagine every part of your body is being hugged snuggly by a cloud. They are $54 on Amazon Prime. … Why are you still here?
- Don’t skip meals. But if you have to, snack. I also have several friends who think iced coffee counts as a meal. It does not. Am I sipping an iced coffee while I write this? Yes. Did I eat grilled chicken and veggies for lunch? Also yes. It’s all about balance.
- Get a stress reliever. For me, because I had my car on campus last year, that looked like driving around town and singing along to the radio. Or, maybe that looks like lying on the quad and finding your peace of mind. A quick fix, perhaps, would be a super easy squishy stress ball that you can carry around in your backpack. You just need a balloon, some flour, a funnel and scissors. Fill the balloon up with flour, tie it off, and squish until all your worries fade away. Or something like that.
- Skin. Care. SAY IT LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK. This one isn’t just for the ladies. Maybe you think you’re all grown up so your skin will clear up and you won’t have any breakouts. Let me be the voice of reality – wake up and buy some Cetaphil. Wash your face every day. Don’t forget about your poor feet and give them a break every once and a while. Wear shower shoes. Put Chapstick in every pocket of every single bag you have. You know, normal stuff. I’m not saying you have to get a facial every weekend. I just say this with all the love in the world –smelly people don’t make great group project partners.
- Don’t study in the same place every day. This one is tough, but I believe in you. Once you find that perfect blue chair on the 8th floor of Davis, you never want to leave. You go there every afternoon with your Sushinara and chew loudly and distract everyone. We’ve all been that person at one point in time. I am saying, for your mental health, you need variety. Mix it up. Routine is good. Ruts are not. Challenge and stretch yourself.
- Speaking of routine… We are here for it. And no, waking up 3 minutes before class every morning is not a healthy routine. Set yourself up for success by treating yourself like a normal functioning human. Give yourself the same amount of time in the morning. Treat yourself every Friday afternoon. Find things in your life that will give you some sense of consistency. I personally believe that consistency is a drastically underappreciated act. Being consistent does not equal being boring.
- Tell other people how you feel. Chances are, you aren’t alone. Find some close friends and share thoughts and emotions. Life is hard, but life lived in community is so much easier. And it isn’t always about you – sometimes your story can benefit someone else. If you need to talk to a professional, visit CAPS.
- Write things down. Get a planner. If you look at the syllabus ahead of time and put the big assignments on your calendar, you’re probably already in the top 10%. Okay, I made that up, but you get my point. I am Type A and I think I’ll remember things. Like when midterms are. And when I shouldn’t procrastinate. And when my friends’ birthdays are. But I don’t. “You think you can do these things, but you just can’t, Nemo!”
- Go watch Finding Nemo again. It will make you nostalgic for the times when your mom woke you up by humming in the morning.
- Set realistic goals. Listen, I know it’s tempting to think you’ll lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks. And write that essay in 1 hour. And learn to play guitar like Willie Nelson in one semester. And maybe you will do those things!! Don’t let me discourage you!! I am an optimist through and through. You are the only one who can limit yourself. That said, make some little goals that you know are achievable. Do them. Check them off a list. Be proud of yourself for doing a thing. Buy me some coffee to thank me for the advice.