A Guide to Practicing Self-Care
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Shravya Kakulamarri in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
- Staying Active
- Reflecting on Your Emotions
- Spending Time with Loved Ones
- Learning How to Say “No”
- Working on Personal Development
- Doing Community Outreach
Mental health is incredibly important, especially during the stressful college admissions season. In this post, we explore a few of the ways that students can practice self-care to make sure they’re putting their mental health first.
Physical and mental health are intimately connected, so keeping up with your physical health will have a positive impact on your mental well-being. It’s important to eat healthily and find ways to incorporate movement into your life. Moving your body can help you decrease stress and work through pent-up emotions after a difficult experience.
Staying active does not mean you need to maintain a strict exercise routine. Many students make time to go for regular walks throughout the day. Even a 20-minute walk while listening to music or a podcast is a wonderful way to get fresh air and clear your mind.
Physical self-care can also include relaxing practices at the end of the day, such as doing a skincare regimen or taking a hot bath or shower.
Reflecting on Your Emotions
Another important aspect of self-care is allowing yourself to feel your emotions. It can be tempting to tamp down negative feelings and try to ignore them, but when you’re struggling emotionally, it’s more than okay to let yourself cry or be glum and wallow for a bit. Of course, it’s also important to move past being melancholy.
Take time to recognize all that you’ve accomplished so far and compliment yourself. We are our own harshest critics, and many of us suffer from imposter syndrome: a feeling that we don’t belong, don’t measure up, or don’t deserve the place that we’ve earned. This is a common experience for college students, so to combat that self-doubt, it’s important to recognize all the progress that you’ve made and how far you’ve come.
Spending Time with Loved Ones
Part of emotional self-care is also spending time with your loved ones: family, friends, or anyone in your life who makes you feel your best. This can extend to fictional loved ones. Rewatching a film or TV series or rereading a book that brings you genuine happiness are wonderful forms of self-care. Psychologically, engaging with a story when you already know the ending can provide a powerful feeling of security.
Learning How to Say “No”
One of the most challenging forms of self-care but also one of the most important is learning to say “no.” No one can do everything, so evaluate your priorities, and avoid spreading yourself too thin by taking on extra responsibilities. Prioritize what is most meaningful to you, and don’t be afraid to say “no” if you feel yourself getting overwhelmed.
It can sometimes feel like we’re letting people down when we say “no,” but committing to something new when you don’t have the bandwidth to do it well isn’t worth it, as you won’t perform at your best.
Taking time for self-reflection is incredibly important. A popular method of self-reflection is journaling. Writing down your thoughts is a great way to spend quality time with yourself and check in. The practice of journaling will help you pay better attention to how you’re feeling on a day-to-day basis.
Meditation is another way to self-reflect. Practicing mindfulness can be challenging, but it’s incredibly beneficial, especially during stressful times.
Working on Personal Development
Personal development—the practice of self-improvement, getting to know yourself and growing as a person—is also a form of self-care.
One way to do this is to get to know people outside of your immediate circle. Working on relationships with teachers or other mentors in your life will motivate you and expand your support system. Personal development can also be aided by developing a new hobby or area of interest. When you’re out of school and part of the workforce, you won’t want to be identified by your career alone. That’s only one aspect of your identity, and developing hobbies and interests that make you happy is a way to stay well-rounded as you get older.
Doing Community Outreach
A final way to practice self-care is to get involved in your community. From community centers to places of worship, getting involved in and becoming connected to the world around you is beneficial for you and the people you’re connecting with. It’s a rejuvenating experience that provides a sense of community.
Remember, with any form of self-care, consistency is key. Give these self-care practices a try, figure out what works for you, and then stick with it. You can start by setting aside a few minutes per day to focus on a self-care practice, such as right after you wake up or before bed. On days when you have more time, maybe you can set aside a couple of hours. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where your body will realize that you’re doing self-care, you’ll find a powerful sense of calm in the routine, and you’ll be a happier and better-adjusted person.