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Talking Self-Care With Grown-Ass Women Who Are As Stressed As You Are

In this house (meaning the Her Campus HQ) we’re really all about self-care, self-love and self-awareness. In honor of International Self-Care Day, a few members of our team circled up to talk about how we practice self-care and why it’s so friggin’ important for college-aged people (especially college women) to get in touch with that part of themselves and make time for self-care routines and rituals of their own.

Read on to hear members of Her Campus’ team — Katherine Speller (@kathriller), Rachel Lewis (@rachelcharlenel), Gina Escandon (@ginaescandon), Liz Posner (@Lizhpos), Sammi Burke (@samanthakari), Maggie Scenna (@maggiescenna) and Giana Grimaldi (@_gianamaria) — get real as heck about everything from self-care under capitalism, how face masks, sex toys and witchcraft can be self-care tools and the real and awesome power of looking out and advocating yourself.

Katie (@kathriller): When I think self-care, I think about doing all the physical and mental things I need to get back to baseline and the things to gas me up again in order to feel like a human — even if it’s just unplugging for a few hours, pulling a few tarot cards for myself, sitting with my bulldog on top of my chest or going out to kayak where no one can talk to me. I think someone once used the “fill your bucket so you can pour it out for others” metaphor when explaining it to me and it was really my favorite thing ever. But LMK, what does self-care mean to you?

Rachel (@rachelcharlenel): Self-care means, in equal parts, challenging myself to be better, more thoughtful, and more authentic, and challenging myself to love myself as I am, right now, in this moment.

Maggie (@maggiescenna): It means taking time to reflect on yourself and how you’re feeling, and doing whatever you can to help yourself to feel more healthy! Some days might require more effort than others, so it’s important to check in with yourself and plan your self-care accordingly. Basically, it’s about helping yourself to be your best self.

Liz (@lizhpos): Taking time to do only the things I love that make me feel good.

Gina (@ginaescandon): Self-care is something I do to take care of my mental and emotional health, and to help with my anxiety. It’s about building a relationship with myself, and finding ways to refuel myself in a healthy way when I’m feeling overwhelmed or burnt out.

Sammi (@samanthakari): Honestly, the term “self-care” always sounds kind of hokey to me but it’s really right in line with “treating yo’ self” which I am a firm supporter of. It’s whatever is what you need to feel more like yourself in the moment — whether it’s a nap or an early night or a shot or a bubble bath like… what is going to make you feel better in this moment? 

Katie: It’s such an important check-in process for anyone out there trying to be a person today, tbh. Especially if you’re expected to zip up your human suit consistently and combat all the noise going on inside and outside your brain space. And I love that it’s not just about being better to yourself (though that’s super important) but helping you be a better version of you. Like, yes. What’s something a lot of people just don’t get about practicing self-care?

Rachel: Self-care isn’t an excuse to like, be a shitty person. Self-care doesn’t mean not evaluating yourself. Self-care does not mean going around harming people and being a shitty friend because it’s too exhausting to check yourself.

Maggie: Also it doesn’t require a million dollars and material items — sure, it can if you are blessed to be in that situation, but it can be as simple as incorporating meditation and setting an intention every morning. It’s about taking time for yourself, and whether that’s alone in your room or at the spa getting your favorite facial, it’s about whatever makes YOU feel happy and healthy.

Gina: I think people think self-care is trending and sellable right now — and while that’s true, for people (aka everyone) that need self care, it’s something that runs deeper than capitalism or buying a $45 face mask. Yeah it sucks that people are making self-care a purchasable product BUT thing like meditation and spending time with loved ones and such are acts of self-care, completely free, and totally healing. 

Katie: Def agree. Self-care as a #Branding sort of thing can be great for getting the word out about it (and some really cool tools you can use to take care for yourself) but it’s so important to keep your filters on and recognize that it’s so much more personal and more about the space you make for yourself than about all the crap you use. But, like, speaking of — what are a few of the things that are in your self-care tool-belts?

Giana: Definitely face masks, a good tv show to binge-watch, comfy clothes, music, alone time and sleep.

Rachel: I have a few versions of ideal self-care. Version one: a face mask, a super chill show (Steven Universe makes me feel so fucking calm), an expensive bubbling beverage. Version two: silky, overpriced pjs, my giant vibrator, chill jams.

Maggie: Snake plant in your bedroom for air purity, ice roller, facial massager, gua sha tools, dry brush, That’s So Retrograde podcast, tarot cards, candles galore, vibrator, and at night, Natural Calm and my eye mask and my cooling pillow to help me sleep better

Gina: Face masks and vibrators. Bless them.  

Katie: Honestly, I am so here for vibrators getting the love today. Giving your sex life and sexual health your attention is so underrated in terms of what we talk about when we talk about self-care. Like every single one of my friends are like “me, my vibe and Magic Mike XXL are hanging tonight because I deserve it. Don’t @ me” at least once or twice a month and those moments have got to be celebrated.
  Like I mentioned before: Tarot reading is also a huge part of my self-care routine too! I started to do daily readings a while back (documenting it on insta of all places, to keep me motivated) and it became such a special part of my me-time — and now I can’t imagine not lighting some incense and pulling a few cards when I’m having a moment (even though my whole life is low-key a moment).

Katie: Now, even folks like us who are really loud about trying to do the self-care thing have had times not being so great about it. Be honest, tell us about a time you weren’t doing so well or struggling with self-care?

Rachel: Lmao, always? I’m pretty good at the face mask part of self care, but I tend to forget to like, eat and drink water and think and create. I thrive the most when I’m creative and reading and loving the people I love and who love me, and I’m working a lot more on paying attention to that. Because when I don’t I am DEPRESSED and dark and gloomy and bad to myself and the people I most want to uplift and support.

Sammi:  Um, my face is DISGUSTING and if I skip removing my makeup or moisturizing I always, always, always regret it every single time. Also, if I don’t completely SLATHER my body in coconut oil before I dye my hair my whole chest/shoulders/neck/back are teal for like three days. Like, those two things are so quick and simple? So take the time to take care of yourself — ‘cause nobody else is gonna do it for you.

Liz: While I was starting my career in Teach for America, I was so obsessed with doing well in my job that I let my health really slide and took on some very unhealthy habits. I got pretty sick as a result (and, surprise! wasn’t doing well at my job at all). The self-care movement was just getting started then, around 2013-2014, so seeing women’s media begin a major push for self-care was eye-opening. I made more time for my mental and physical health, and life got much better after that.

Maggie: After the holidays last year, I literally let myself go on a permanent vacation from self-care for about three months. It was like I looked up and realized it was spring! I had gone months without taking care of myself, being active or eating well and I felt absolutely terrible. I was then so anxious about getting back on the wellness bandwagon that I kept putting it off and putting it off and feeling worse and worse and I felt terrible. I never want to be in that place again! I travel a lot and I know now that traveling can throw me off, so whenever I know I have a trip coming up, I always make sure I set myself up for success by doing a ton of self-care right before I leave and a ton right when I get back. I haven’t had an extended vacay since!

Giana: Whenever I’m working too much and come home late, or just stay up late in general, I definitely neglect self-care. I don’t sleep enough, and I’ll be a zombie for most of the next day. It feels terrible! You never want to feel like you’re not being the best version of yourself. I always feel best with a full night sleep, so that’s what I try to achieve every night.

Katie: I know my self-care goes to utter shit when I get bogged down by work or end up in depressive episodes. It happened a few times after I got laid off from my first-ever job and later when I realized I had to make a mental-health related move away from another job — I realized I wasn’t taking the time to shower or sleep or see the people who matter to me or do the things that make me happy (like I basically just lived off of sad breakfast food Seamlessed to my bed.) But during that time I was really grateful to have friends who let me know that 1) it was totally okay not to be okay or to be on and charming and able to deal and 2) that they were willing to say to me “I’m worried about you and I want to help you get to a place where you can take better care of yourself again.”
  Now, what about your friends? How do you encourage them to take care of themselves?

Rachel: Love on each other, all the time. Be the weirdo friend who’s like “bitch I love you” randomly on a Monday and who says “are you hydrated” via IG DMs and “have you read that poem you’ve been meaning to read?” It can be so simple, and it’s so important and non-negotiable.

Maggie: Schedule a wellness date with your friend! Book a massage or a fitness class together, or just plan to stay in, do a sheet mask + talk about life. If you make it a solid plan, it’s so much easier to get it done + hold your bff (and yourself!) accountable. Any time I hear about a new, strange wellness-related place opening up, I drag my friends and they always have fun! The hardest part is getting them there, but once they see how enjoyable it is to take time to care for themselves, you’ll have them hooked.

Sami: It was my BFF that made me do a face mask for the first time (I tried to find the pic because it is hysterical. I didn’t know what I was doing and the mask was on my eyelids on my lips and in my nose.)



A post shared by rachel charlene (@rachelcharlenel) on

Katie: I so agree that doing some goofy, fun and relaxing self-care stuff (paired with a metric f-ckton of aggressive gal-idation) with your friends is a great way to keep everyone accountable for being kinder to themselves. My friends and I all try to do some gentle nudges if one of us has gone dark for a week or so to make sure that we’re ready to crowd around and support when one of us is in trouble. That’s been such a powerful support system for me since the election.
  Speaking of — we’re all super busy and crying and reading news that makes us mad all the time. But how can we make sure that self-care makes it into our busy routines?

Rachel: Let yourself cry. If I’ve learned anything since 2016 *cough cough* it’s that crying is so, so good for you. I’ve started crying in public just like, freely. On planes. In grocery stores. Sometimes it’s just gotta happen. Suffocating your feelings is not the answer. To hold yourself accountable for self care, get a freaking app, or ask a friend to help you. I really like Aloe Bud because the creators are good and thoughtful and brilliant and queer, and supporting marginalized communities is important to me. It also reminds me to drink water, which sounds silly to rude people but is actually the most helpful thing. I’m much more stressed when I’m dehydrated.

Sammi: Honestly, self-care WHILE you’re crying. Sometimes crying is the self-care — you can’t live your life with everything all bottled up (try as I might). It’s going to explode out of you eventually and a good cry is so damn cathartic. Anyway, Facemask and cry. Netflix and cry. Live and cry.

Liz: Make it a routine (take time every Saturday morning or Sunday night just for yourself) and/or put it on your calendar so you can hold yourself accountable.

Giana: If you’re REALLY struggling to make time for self-care, literally set aside time in your schedule, just as you would a meeting for work/an internship or a class for school! Set aside a good hour, or half hour if you’re pressed for time, and just do something that makes YOU happy and chill.

Katie: I’m also on Team Live Free, Cry Hard. 100 percent. I think a huge learning curve for me was learning that prioritizing myself didn’t mean not prioritizing other people and the causes that made me scared or sad or existentially horrified. It’s that goddamn bucket metaphor again, but it helped so much to realize that developing a sense of duty toward making an hour for myself (to cry or read or breathe or make it back to baseline) was part of the equation of being better equipped to handle all those other post-2016 stressors.

Katie: Now, I’m going to leave you all alone and let you get back to work. But, for your final word: Why is it so important for college women in 2018 to get in on self-care?

Rachel: 2018 sucks. This has been one of the worst years of my life, and that + college would be so, so draining. College is so hard and messy, and it’s such a time of introspection and learning and re-thinking yourself and the world and your place in it. You don’t need an excuse to take care of yourself. You deserve it, period. If you’re waiting for someone to give you permission, you have it.

Maggie: There is so much craziness and negativity in the world right now and it’s a really scary place. We all need to take care of ourselves so that we can be our own personal bests and therefore go into the world to help others! It’s like on an airplane – always put your mask on first before helping others. If we’re not taking care of ourselves, we can’t be there for our friends, family and the world!

Liz: Women need to be their own advocates, especially in these dire political times. Despite mental health awareness being at an all-time peak, we are all getting buried by more stressors than ever before. Support your own health, and support your fellow women’s self-care routines by keeping the SC movement going strong!

Katie: Agreed across the f-cking board. If you’re putting all your time and energy into educating yourself and bettering yourself and planning for a bad-ass future that’ll launch you toward your professional and personal goals, it’s a no-brainer that taking care of yourself emotionally/physically/all of it should be part of the equation. ✨

Let us know how you take care of yourself and do you on Twitter and Instagram @HerCampus and look out for more regular wisdom from the HC staff in our weekly advice column I DID A THING.

Katherine (or Katie) is the News Editor and resident witch at Her Campus. She first fell in love with journalism while attending SUNY New Paltz ('14). Since then, she has worked on the staffs at MTV News and Bustle writing about politics, intersectional social issues and more before serving as staff researcher at Lady Parts Justice League. Her work has been published in Women's Health, the Daily Dot, Public Radio International (PRI) and WNYC and she's been a regular panelist on a few podcasts (mostly screaming about repro rights.)  She is a Libra with a Taurus moon and a Scorpio ascendant, which either means nothing or everything. She loves strong diner coffee, reading tarot for strangers at the bar and watching the same three horror movie documentaries. She lives in the Hudson Valley with too many animals.