Whether you’re on a Pre-Med track, a Business major, or studying English – managing your workload as a college student can be overwhelming. Practicing self-care is essential to being a productive, functioning human being. Here are some tips on how to develop and maintain self-care as a college student:
1. Develop and Stick To a Morning Routine
You don’t have to wake up with the sunrise to have a productive morning. Start small by waking up with enough time to get ready as you usually would—then add thirty minutes. Allow yourself to start your day slow and relaxed; what you do first thing in the morning sets the tone for your entire day.
Sip water throughout your routine. Turn on your favorite album or an informative podcast. Swap out your cup of coffee for a cup of tea. Eat breakfast (and no, a Nutrigrain bar does not count). A lot of people complain that they run low on energy as the day goes on and that’s because they don’t start their day off with a balanced, healthy meal.
Most importantly, be consistent. Wake up at the same general time each day. Don’t check your phone as soon as your eyes open; instead, stretch your arms, and think about what lies ahead for the day. Curate your routine to fit your lifestyle and own it.
2. Practice Positive Self-Talk
It’s no secret that most college students deal with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. In fact, according to the American College Health Association Fall 2018 National College Health Assessment, 63% of college students in the US felt overwhelming anxiety in the past year. Although it’s not a cure, practicing positive self-talk can help you cope with the stressors that accompany the lifestyle of a college student.
Positive self-talk doesn’t come naturally to most people, that’s why it’s something that needs to be practiced and will eventually become a habit. A few ways to practice positive self-talk include:
- Congratulate yourself when you complete a task. It doesn’t matter if it was a big or small task; you did something constructive and you should be proud of yourself.
- Point out what makes you beautiful. Alexa play What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction. Just kidding. On a serious note, it’s totally normal to notice your flaws before the traits that make you wonderful. Nevertheless, try to make it a habit to point out three things you love about your physical appearance and personality.
In a nutshell, practicing positive self-talk consists of training your thoughts to be patient and encouraging to yourself.
3. Develop Healthy Sleeping Habits
Whoever said young adults should be getting seven to ten hours of sleep was overestimating our ability to manage our time. Balancing your course-load, work, extracurricular activities, and social life is not easy to do and let’s be honest, sleep is one of the first things to go when you need to get something done.
Nevertheless, getting adequate sleep should be a priority. Regularly skipping out on a full night’s rest puts you at a higher risk for (or perpetuates) depression and anxiety. Not to mention, without proper rest your immune system won’t be effective at protecting you from illnesses.
4. Reward Yourself For Working Hard
Practice the act of praising yourself rather than seeking validation from other people. Your opinion of yourself is what matters above anyone else’s. So, when you get through a particularly hard week or ace a midterm you should reward yourself!
The reward doesn’t have to be elaborate. In fact, you don’t necessarily have to spend money. Rewarding yourself can consist of taking an hour nap or binge-watching a classic on Disney+.
If you decide to reward yourself using monetary means, do what works for your budget. Don’t go on a shopping spree at Victoria’s Secret if you know you’re running low on cash and you don’t get paid for another week.
The point of rewarding yourself is to acknowledge you’ve accomplished something and to let yourself know that you’re a badass. It can come in many different forms.
5. Be Disciplined and Stay On Top of Your Due Dates
Sometimes self-care includes doing things you don’t necessarily want to do. Being organized and disciplined are underrated forms of self-care. If you stay on top of your deadlines and get work done before the due date, it will allow you to minimize your stress levels.
This form of self-care isn’t necessarily glamorous or Instagram worthy, but it’s one of the most important. Learning time management is essential to caring for yourself because it shows that you value your time and goals.
6. Stay Hydrated
Up to 60% of the human body is made up of water. Your body needs water to thrive and operate at its full capacity, so swap the Dr. Pepper for a Hydro-flask and keep it filled with water. If you don’t like the “taste” of plain water, go for sparkling water like Bubly or Lacroix.
Make a habit of eating foods with high water content such as cucumbers, watermelon, salad, and other fruits and vegetables. Not only will you feel more energized, but your glowing skin and hair will also thank you for it.
7. Create A Safe Space to Unwind
Everybody needs a place to just be on their own and take time away from their busy schedule. If you live on campus, decorate your dorm or apartment to reflect your interests and make it feel like home. Put up posters, print out photos of your loved ones, and/or hang some string lights.
If you’re still living at home, redecorate your room to align with your lifestyle as a college student. The most important thing to remember is that your room, dorm, or apartment should be a place where you feel relaxed and comfortable.
Keep your space clean and organized. Coming home at the end of a long day to a messy space will only perpetuate any stress you may be feeling.
Self-care comes in many different forms and the ideas expressed in this article only scratch the surface of what it means to prioritize and care for yourself. Take the time to learn what practicing self-care looks like in your own life.
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I'M CURRENTLY A COLLEGE FRESHMAN STUDYING JOURNALISM AND FIGURING OUT LIFE ONE DAY AT A TIME.