As midterms inches closer for some or has passed for others, everyone needs to relax and take care of themselves. You are either like me and are in denial about how fast the semester is passing by or burn out is an inevitable future for you.
Either way, everyone needs to look out for themselves. Self-Care is a must for everyone since our daily lives can be so stressful. So here are 10+ ways to practice Self-Care as a college student. Do pin the image below
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Sleep is such a natural part of everyone’s day that people take for granted. As a student who is practically the worst at time management, all-nighters and very late nights were a normal routine for me and many others.
I would wait until the last minute to do my assignments and struggle to wake up the next day, knowing I couldn’t function on that little amount of sleep. Add that in with multiple nights like this and the fact I don’t drink coffee or energy drinks, I was fighting my body’s instinct to preserve my health.
But now with proper planning, I make sure to put sleep as a high priority for myself. I feel more awake, have better recall, and can focus a lot more in my classes. That isn’t to say that I have stopped having my late nights because sometimes life happens. But I have learned to account for those times and plan my sleep appropriately.
And for those that still sleep but can’t seem to get enough rest, I haven’t forgotten you.
You can try:
- Power napping if your schedule allows for it
- Turning off electronics at least 1-2 hours before bed (or using a blue light filter on all electronics)
- Cutting caffeine from your diet to help your body become less dependent on it
2. Take a leisurely stroll
I love taking walks in nature. I can focus on something other than school and just relax on my own time. I happen to go to a school that is not only on the water, but is also near a historical site that lets students in for free!
I usually go to the “museum” on study breaks during the weekend and just wander aimlessly. Helps clear my mind and deal with stress from a lot of my harder classes. People usually tend to buckle down and try to brute force their way through some homework, a project, or even a paper. But that isn’t the best way to approach your work. It may work for a brief (or long for some) period, but it will not work forever.
Burn out is a real problem. Taking a break isn’t the end the world.
This is one of my favourite ways to take a break because of its benefits. I have a preference towards weightlifting versus cardio because you can do a lot in a short amount of time! By having a scheduled work out session, you can pre-plan your breaks. That way, you can look forward to them instead of immediately disregarding them due to lack of interest.
The other benefit to exercising is rush of endorphins (neurotransmitters that are involved with cell signalling). Serotonin and dopamine are the big ones involved in mood and memory regulation. If you have ever worked out for long enough or exerted enough energy, you may have gotten something called runner’s high or lifter’s high.
Runner’s high is a rush of serotonin that makes you feel happy and motivates you to keep going, while lifters high brings a calmness to mind due to the dopamine surge. Now, these “highs” aren’t limited to their named activities but are commonly associated with them.
After a nice work out session, I feel calmer and a lot more focused on my work and life in general. It’s like the exercise was a way to outrun or power through any stressful thoughts. When I had more time to go to the gym, I would schedule my sessions before my classes. That way I could start my 8 am class wide awake and ready to learn. My increased focus would last throughout the day and I got so much work done as a result.
It would lead back to me getting better sleep at night and in turn, making the early mornings slightly less dreadful to deal with. If you aren’t a fan of running or weight training, here are some other alternatives:
- Rock Climbing! (My school does have a few walls for us)
- Hiking on a trail
- Team Sports (Most schools have intermural teams)
- Workout videos (I recommend Fitness Blender)
Now, this is a technique that isn’t for everyone, but you should try it at least once. I definitely feel a calming sensation after a session as long as I take it seriously. What I mean is finding a place that is quiet, focusing on the instructions (if guided), taking the session seriously, and being open-minded.
A lot of people seem to think meditation is weird or is something only successful people do. It’s not. For some people, it a way of healing and giving back to themselves. Plus, it is so easy to do nowadays. With the advances in technology, you can meditate anywhere with proper guidance for free.
A simple search on the Play Store/App Store will bring up many good quality apps that are completely free. For example, a session for me is sitting on a comfortable chair with my feet on the floor in my room, spine relaxed in proper posture, headphones in, and focused on the instructions from my app. In about 5-10 minutes, I feel a lot calmer and generally more focused.
5. Start a Hobby
Hobbies are a great way to take your mind off the stresses of life. My hobbies are photography, blogging, and Reddit. I could spend hours just doing these things and feel super refreshed afterwards.
Photography and blogging are easy ones to start. They are relatively free. Most people have access to a smartphone or a simple camera. And your local library is an awesome resource to for internet. Smartphones are at the point where some professionals use them exclusively. So, in this case, equipment doesn’t matter until you master the techniques. WordPress or Blogger are free places to start a blog. I started many blogs on these sites with relative ease. A2 Hosting is an amazing hosting company and offers the most affordable and best packages which are better than most hosting sites.
Reddit is a weird choice for a hobby, but I see it as a learning opportunity with a community attached.
The basic principle is to find something, akin to a skill, that you can work on improving and gives you joy in some way. It’s even better when it’s something that gives you a tangible result so you can see your progress as you go.
Some other hobbies (with tangible outcomes) can include:
6. Give yourself a Technology Detox
With all of the screens, notifications, and popups that appear in our daily lives, its no wonder that people need to take a break from it all. All of the constant stimuli needs to removed completely at a regular interval for health reasons alone. And sleep does not count as that time.
The weekend is an ideal time to try this. Take all of the electronics you use on a regular basis (smartphone, computer, tv, basically anything with a screen) and shut them off. Let everyone that you live with know that you are doing this, so you lessen the chance of accidentally slipping up.
And then go about your day as usual minus the screens. Use the activities listed in this post as ideas for what to do on that day. Twenty four hours without your phone may seem like a lot, but it actually passes by very quickly. It’ll be up before you know it and you’ll feel a lot better. It is useful to schedule this kind of day at least once a month to benefit from it.
7. Talk to someone
While you are on your tech detox day, you probably have a lot of time on your hands. Use it to catch up with a friend, meet new ones, or talk with family.
I use this as an opportunity to vent to my best friend about all of my school stress. I would advise venting to someone who can understand your troubles but is not also currently dealing with them. This helps turn the venting into a constructive way to release stress instead of a complaining session. Getting your thoughts outside of your head will help you process them. And having someone respond to those thoughts (in a constructive way) will help even more in stress management.
If you don’t have someone close to you to talk to, try your RAs. Your professors are also a great resource because they have most likely gone through what you are going through currently. If your school has access to counsellors, I highly support that as an option too. They are there to help you in an absolutely confidential manner if the situation calls for it.
8. Have a comfort meal (or snack)
There are times when I get homesick and it hits me like a rock sometimes. It’s never to the point where I have to actually go home, but it is a twinge of sadness. I find it helpful to have a reminder of home in some way.
Cooking is a big part of my family and our culture. I always cook something from the recipes I have learned as a way to transport the feeling of home to where I am. Now my culture’s food is pretty heavy on the stomach, so I have to be careful when I make it. Especially since I have to take in account that not that many people around me like super spicy food.
I plan a meal of my favourite recipe from home and indulge in it. That doesn’t mean make the biggest pot ever and have a food baby. That would be pretty bad. But I mean to indulge in the taste and really remember why this reminds you of home and what memories are tied to it, which in a way brings home to you.
9. Read for pleasure
I was the “nerdy” kid that use to read textbooks as a pastime. I miss those days. I stopped doing that when I was required to read books that had nothing to do with what I liked and didn’t help me.
Nowadays, the texts are more relevant but have gotten even more boring. (Sorry Organic Chem textbook. I love you, but I hate you at the same time. ☹) Which is why it is so important to take the time to read for pleasure. It can be any medium. Visual novels, manga, comics, novels, poetry, newspapers, blogs (like this one!), textbooks you actually like, etc.
Find something that makes you impatient to get back to reading it. Find something that creates suspense for you when you put it away. Find something you enjoy just for the sake of flipping that page. The Amazon Kindle is perfect for this. Not only can it store a vast collection of books, but it is also a portable library in itself.
10. Hang out with friends
Have you ever as a teen just hung out at the mall for the sake of it? You didn’t have any money to buy anything, but you still looked around just because? That was my most of my high school life! The other half was me being a hermit. But when I did leave the house to be with friends, we would just window shop.
The store didn’t really matter. It was the fact we had a way to mindlessly wander in an organized fashion. We talked about mundane things that nothing to do with school or our current activity. But we were spending time together in our own little world.
Nurturing your friendships (healthy ones, that is) is a form of self-care. It’s a reciprocal way to care for one another through the simplest of actions. Those hangouts helped me bond with the people I consider lifelong friends even as we went our separate ways in life.
11. Do some simple tasks
Everyone has a to-do list with simple tasks on it. Tasks like:
- Wash the dishes
- Make your bed
- Get a haircut
- Water the plants
Just do them. Not only will future you be thankful, but you can use it as a break from whatever you were currently doing.
I generally do my skincare routine during breaks while doing Organic Chemistry. It helps me think of why I’m learning this and how its helpful to my daily life. I also clean a lot during study breaks. In my experience, cleaning is super cathartic when you are trying to deal with frustration due to math. Ah, Calculus II. I don’t miss you all that much.
That’s all I have for you today. Basically, you want to make your self-care as simple and easy to do as possible. It helps you, the busy student, be more likely to do them because everyone has a point in the semester where they just can’t take it anymore. And self-care is your way to cooling down that feeling.
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