5 Ways to Practice Self-Care During College Application Season

College application season is tough when you’re in high school. You have your dream school that you’re dying to go to, and you’re scared of not getting in. You have this weird feeling no university will accept you, and you’ll somehow end up homeless and eating left over cold fries from a McDonald’s dumpster. Fear not! You’re young, and even if you don’t get accepted to the school you want, you can always transfer if you bust your butt later in college. But you must remember, your self-love and mental health should always come first. 

"Sometimes we let our deadlines become most important and above our own mental and physical health. I get motivated to want to care for me and not my deadlines [That's how] I remind myself I’ll probably do a better job at all my work and deadlines if I make sure I’m good first," says Stephanie Cardenas, a student at PACE School of Performing Arts. 

Everything will figure itself out in the end, so here are five ways to keep the stress from building up.

1. Get organized

By now you probably know the drill--copies of your social security, a valid ID, your address, etc. Before you go crazy applying to different places, make a huge file on your computer with all the personal information you know you might need for future applications. Create a spreadsheet with your address, name and other information typed out, so you can easily copy and paste them into online applications. But don't forget to take small breaks while doing this instead of over-working yourself--remember, this is supposed to help with the process and clear your head. 

It may be tedious for the time you’re doing it, but you’ll thank yourself later when it only takes you 10-15 minutes to complete another application. This may not be your typical “treat yoself” kind of thing, but it will keep your stress from boiling over. Try keeping a copy of the master file on a USB. That way you can also get more applications done during free time at school.

2. Go outside

The sun may burn your skin when you leave your room or library, but there’s no better cure for stress than some fresh air. Go for a walk or play some friendly sports with friends! Sitting alone at home will keep you from some good memories with your friends.

Valentina Rodriguez-Zapata, a fashion design major at Parsons School of Design, says "Make sure to stretch for [ten] minutes and walk around [and] go out for fresh air every two to three hours of work. Very simple things that will make a world of a difference."

It’s especially important because you may not get to see for a while since they might be going to different schools. Fresh air will clear your mind and keep you from going crazy. Maybe while you’re out there, bring a notebook and pencil. Sit in the shade and write a list of things you need to get done. And while you’re walking around or just sitting there, think about how you can accomplish these things within your certain number of days until your deadline! That way you can feel productive while still taking care of yourself.

Related: 7 Easy Ways to Practice Self-Care

3. Treat yourself to a spa day

There’s nothing more relaxing than peeling dead skin off your face. You don’t have to spend money on a spa day at some expensive place--you can always hit up your local pharmacy, stock up on yummy skin care products and spend a whole afternoon just taking care of your face. With all the stress going on in your life, you’re bound to get a few stray pimples, and taking care of your skin will keep them from spreading like wild fire.

Náosha Gregg, a collegiette at CUNY Kingsborough, shares a self-care routine that doesn’t just stop at facial scrubs. “I like to use a facial scrub to clean the dirt and oil out of my pores,” she says. “I take a nice hot shower [for] stress relief and curl up with a good book [and a cup of hot chocolate], under some blankets.”  

In addition to skin care, you should also remember to take time to do things you enjoy. For Náosha, that’s reading. Some people knit or watch movies. Whatever it is that you enjoy, make time from your busy schedule to practice it! You can even do it while the weird concrete-like material is drying on your face.

4. Get active

Everyone’s first instinct when they’re stressed is to reach out for some yummy food and binge eat. Do you want to get your freshman fifteen while you’re still a senior? The answer is probably not. Running and lifting weights is a great way to get your mind of things and release some steam.

Believe it or not, there are actually some pretty fun ways to get active. Set a goal for yourself by signing up for a 5K or half-marathon. Or if you don’t want to put so much pressure on yourself, there’s a fun app called “Zombies, Run!” That will simulate a zombie apocalypse and help you run away from hungry walkers. Not convinced yet? Place your phone in front of a cycle machine and catch up on your favorite shows while toning your legs. The possibilities are endless, and you’re practicing beneficial self-care instead of indulging and feeling bad about it later!

5. Take a road trip  

A road trip doesn’t have to be to some far-off place. It could be to a local attraction or park, as long as it’s something to look forward to during the week. Just let it be somewhere where you can go without thinking about applications or exams. Convince your only friend with a driver’s license to take you! Bring along some other BFFs to make some cool memories of your last year in high school. Your friends may be going through the same amount of stress as you, so it’ll be a great getaway for you and your buddies.

“During college application season, it may seem as though you need to spend every moment working on your apps or planning them out,” says Rachna Shah, a freshman at Dartmouth College. “However, you only have your senior year of high school once. Try to plan an exciting event or something that you're looking forward to at the end of every week to help keep perspective and keep you motivated.”

Take advantage of being young and care free. In the long-run, this will seem like nothing compared to other types of stress you’ll be exposed to in your first couple of years in college.

Don’t get caught up with applications when there’s so many things you should be enjoying now while you have the time. On the same token, don’t waste too much time doing things that won’t benefit you in the future. It’s important to practice self-care, but don’t indulge yourself and avoid responsibilities. While you’re on this journey of growing up, you’ll know the importance of time management and how to avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety build-up. Everything is a balance, and it’s important to practice it now and master it before college.