Practicing Self-Care When You Feel Overwhelmed

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Midterms are winding down, and classes are coming to a slow crawl as we recover. After a bunch of late nights and meals replaced by caffeine, it’s time to recharge and get back into a healthy routine of caring for ourselves. Self-care isn’t just about doing cute things like face masks and eating sweet treats, it also involves taking genuine care of your body and mind. Sometimes thing get put on the back burner of our minds that should really be the ultimate priorities, so here’s a list of the things we need to remember for proper self-care, mixed in with some feel-good activities.

 

Eat some yummy and healthy food

You’ve probably been living off microwave dinner and fast food while studying, trying to savor every last minute of your cramming. Now that you have time to spare, actually take the time to cook something delicious and nutritious (yes, that exists!). If you still want to eat fast food or order food, then by all means do so, but make sure your body is still getting what it needs and deserves.

 

Take your medication

With the weather changing and being crazy right now, allergies are running wild. Take some allergy medicine before leaving the house, or just take medicine for yourself in general. This may seem like a simple thing, but sometimes we use pain as a motivator to do things. “Oh I’ll take that aspirin after this chapter, the headache will go away,” or “My stomach is just upset from nerves, I don’t need any antacids” are not ways to think, even when you’re busy! If you take medicine on a daily basis, it could be easier for you to remember this step, but if not you can set a reminder on your phone to help.       

 

Stay hydrated

Drinking water is one of the most important things to stay healthy and happy. It’s so good for you, and it can refresh you like nothing else. Try to avoid soda, as it can make you feel thirstier, but definitely don’t deprive yourself if you enjoy it. Sometimes it’s easier (and yummier) to have juice, soda, tea, milk, etc. than water, but water can be great too! Adding in fresh fruit can change everything, plus you’re getting in even more nutrients!

 

Get some sleep

On average, people need around eight hours of sleep. As college students, this sounds like a distant goal, but it’s something that should be a priority! Naps count too, so if you find yourself staying up late and waking up early, take an hour or so nap in the afternoon to recharge; every little bit helps. If you have a long period of time where you can sleep without an alarm, do it! This can feel so satisfying, and you won’t be concerned with “only 20 more minutes until I have to get up… only 5 more minutes…”

 

Check your environment

Giving yourself a pleasant environment to be in can make a huge difference in mood and productivity. Clutter, temperature, smell, and cleanliness can make or break your attitude. Check your room right now. Is it full of dirty clothes on the floor and an unmade bed? Does it smell musty or have crumbs on the floor? Are you sweating or shivering in it? If you answered yes to these, it could be time to change up your space. Clearing out trash, doing laundry and adding an air freshener are easy fixes that can improve your living area. Dressing in more or less layers can help temperature issues, or using a fan or heater.

 

Be hygienic and clean

Personally, I find it difficult to be productive if I’m unclean and in dirty pajamas all day. To get me going, I take a longer shower (or bath if I’m feeling lazy) and change into new clothes, even if it’s just more pajamas. You can use your favorite soaps and scrubs to make you feel revived and fresh. If a shower or bath feels too involved, you can always change your clothes, wash your face, use lotion or use dry shampoo.

 

Stay grounded in the present

College students are always thinking ahead, whether it’s to a test, interview, or graduation. It’s hard to live in the present when there’s hardly enough time to enjoy it. Grounding exercises bring you back to the present reality when your head feels jumbled with future plans. Examples include: taking deep, calming breaths; listing things you see around you; say out loud the things you’ve done or are going to do today; do a mental body scan and notice all of your body parts; listen to music and close your eyes; write in a journal. These are great ways to clear your head and remind yourself of what’s happening now, and only now.

               

Get some fresh air

One of the best things about fall is the slight chill in the air to cool you off. Opening your blinds and windows during the day is such a mood enhancer. The crisp air flowing through your living space is good for clearing out any stressful feelings, and the natural light is softer than the artificial lights. If you’re able, go outside for a walk to take in the beautiful changing leaves. Plus, you’re able to wear fall clothes, which are always so cute and comfortable!

 

Binge watch your favorite tv show

When I feel overloaded, I tend to not want to get out of bed. I usually turn to Netflix for comfort when I find that scrolling through social media doesn’t help. Funny shows and romantic comedies are my favorites, they make me laugh and smile to pull me out of a funk. My favorites include The Office, Friends, and The Great British Baking Show.

 

Play with a pet

This is one of my favorite things to do! Animals are so sweet and pure, they’re lovely ways to escape the negativity. Whether it’s your animal, a friend’s, or at the shelter, finding one to spend time with is rewarding. Snuggling, playing with toys, learning tricks, or going on walks can benefit the animal but also you, so it’s a win-win situation!

 

Get creative

Indulging in the arts can be stimulating for your emotions and brain. Creativity isn’t always involved in your daily life (that you can think of) so taking time to single out the artsy things you enjoy will give you a chance to appreciate it. Escaping into another life in a book, getting out your emotions in a poem, or any other type of creative output is a great way to leave your troubles behind.

 

Call a loved one

This can be a friend, a sibling, a parent, a significant other, or anyone you can talk to. Social interaction can be lacking when you’re stressed and busy studying, so it’s always a god idea to make some kind of contact during this time. Whether you discuss a trouble, a joy, or just how your day was, getting your voice heard rather than read in a text has a strong feeling of appreciation and dedication.

 

Find a distraction

Goofing off and procrastinating is something we all do, but scrolling through the same social media feeds over and over can be boring. When you’re looking for something new to do, check out these 10 fun and silly websites!

 

Use Affirmations

It can be easy to forget how awesome you are when you’re stressed and sleep deprived, but you’ve worked hard to get through midterms and survive half of the semester already. When I feel like that, I read a list of reminders and affirmations to get my head back in the right space. Here are a few of my favorites for you to use.

  • Remember to remind yourself of your accomplishments. Tell yourself that you’re proud of yourself, even if you’re not. 
  • You are enough. 
  • You are important. 
  • You are worth it. 
  • You are strong. 
  • You are not a failure, 
  • You are not a bother.
  • You are loved. 
  • You are needed. 
  • Just because your past is dark, doesn’t mean your future isn’t bright. 
  • Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.
  • You are valued.
  • You don’t need to have it all figured out yet.
  • It’s okay to have bad days.

 

Self-care isn’t always fun or easy, and like this list it’s important to have a mix of necessary things with extras added on. We’re college students who also have to be adults and do adult things like go to class, work, pay bills, and keep up with other important things. While we may not want to do these things, just remember that it’ll pay off in the end. The last thing I want to leave you with is this: self-care is taking care of your present you, but also your future you, and they deserve to have someone looking out for them.

About The Author

Cathlene is a junior studying journalism and women's studies at Auburn University. She has been a part of Her Campus Auburn for three years and is in her first year as Campus Correspondent. When she isn't studying and working on Her Campus, she enjoys baking desserts, reading young adult fiction and watching Netflix (mainly Friends, The Office and The Great British Baking Show). Some of her favorite things include Disney, desserts and fluffy animals to cuddle. Cathlene aspires to write for a magazine once she graduates and hopefully move back to Los Angeles.