Self-Care is the Best Care

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Here are some easy tips to incorporate some simple yet wholesome self-care routines into your busy life.

In the midst of studying for exams, going to work and having a social life, it is very easy for us to neglect our individual needs. For some people, it is difficult to even find the time out of their schedules to sit down and breathe for a second. Nevertheless, pampering ourselves should be a top priority, along with our family, school work and our career. With deadlines steadily piling up, it can be a challenge to really focus on ourselves rather than what is happening around us.

Self-care is highly essential and imperative to our mental and physical well-being. It is a facile practice we can all incorporate into our lives for self-awareness and to prevent us from drowning into the abyss. In order to be our best and healthy self, we must take time and focus on the factors that guide us into feeling our best and being in our most optimal state of mind. Practicing self-care does not have to equate to a whole chunk of your schedule. It can be a routine bedtime ritual before you sleep, or a weekly face mask to strip away the toxins you have accumulated from the laborious and hectic week. The following self-care guide is composed of ideas and practices that are aimed at combating the negative constituents in your life, and bringing in the positive components that will help you thrive. You can think of this as a feng-shui fix, but for your body, mind and soul.

Rule No. 1: Sleep (But Quality Sleep)

Sleep is the most crucial process for our body to restore and rejuvenate itself after a day of being out and about. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it is recommended that young adults between the ages of 18-25 should sleep around 7-9 hours a night.

Try following a consistent sleep schedule, even on the weekends. Consistency is key.  Following a pattern for sleep can help your body adjust its natural clock to the time you wake up and go to sleep. This way, you will most likely feel less groggy in the morning, be revved up for the rest of the day and be able to sleep at night at ease.

UAlbany Junior Teniola Olafuyi enjoys taking naps, watching Netflix and staying active.

“For self-care, I like to nap, watch Netflix, laugh, and take hot showers. I also enjoy going on walks, exercising, dancing and just breathing. When I do those activities, I feel relaxed. My mental state is restored and I have reached stability in my life. It is a time where I do not think about anyone else or anything but myself.”

Practice a Relaxing Bedtime Ritual

One of the most common bedtime rituals is taking a calm and soothing warm bath, which can soak away your worries and loosen up your tightened muscles. Try adding some essential oils to your bath. Lavender and chamomile oil are some of the best oils for overthinking, stress and anxiety. (And yes, aromatherapy works!) If you want to be bad and boujee, you can also light an incense or burn a scented candle and pour yourself a glass of wine.

Howbeit, not everyone in college can treat themselves to a bath on a regular basis. Many of us share communal bathrooms with at least a dozen people. In that case, there are other ways to practice mind-easing rituals. For example, putting down your phone and curling up in bed with a book--and yes, an actual book, not your iPad or Kindle--and a cup of warm tea before bed can induce better and quality sleep. If reading is not cup of tea, try coming up with some of your own leisure bedtime routines. You can start by putting on some classical or instrumental music, this will create a serene atmosphere for your mind and body to be at peace.

When Daniela Sanclemente, a Junior at UAlbany, is not occupied with her busy schedule, she likes to read a good book, do her nails, and clean.

“It allows me to take my mind off of the things that are truly stressing me out. By doing these activities, I exert, 'out of sight, out of mind'.  I focus on the task at hand which allows my brain to just focus on that one thing instead of school, deadlines, and a hundred other things I may be preoccupied about.”

Doing Something You Love

At hindsight, taking time to practice your hobby may seem like hindrance to your preoccupied life. Per contra, finding a hobby and sticking to it can be extremely gratifying and quite fruitful. Whether it is reading, writing poetry, exercising, photography, painting or even playing video games, doing something you love can relax you and take your mind off of things. A hobby can promote you to focus on yourself and now rather than worrying about the future or dwelling in the past.

Aspiring producer and a Junior at UAlbany, Jordan Phillips, enjoys making music at his leisure.

“Making music keeps my brain occupied with something to do rather than just being on my phone all day. It does not take long to make up a track so it does not really interfere with anything. It is something I find therapeutic and rewarding at the same time.”

Furthermore, research has shown that engaging in leisure activities during our free time can be  associated with lower blood pressure, cortisol (the stress hormone a.k.a. public enemy number one) level, waist circumference and body mass index. People who practice their hobbies regularly also show higher levels of positive psychosocial states and lower levels of depression. Ergo, routinely practicing a hobby not only aids in our mental but physical health as well.

Treat yourself this weekend, take yourself out on a date, get your nails done, and have a wholesome meal at a restaurant of your choice. If you are balling on a budget, burn a scented candle and do an at-home spa. You can find many affordable face masks and other skin-care products at the pharmacy or your local beauty supply store. All in all, self-care is a form of self-preservation; self-care and self-awareness equals self-love. Take some time to yourself. At the end of the day, you are your well-being are your number one priorities.