How to Practice Real Self Care When You're Seriously Overwhelmed with School

Let me set something straight: self-care in 2019 isn’t all it’s hyped up to be. Sure, that vanilla latte might give you some comfort before an important meeting. And that bath accompanied by an bath bomb from Lush, your fave playlist, and a candle might help you to detox after a long day – but is that really the key to self-care? It’s time to stop endlessly scrolling through Insta feeds for inspiration and really capture the reality of what wellness and taking care of yourself looks like IRL.

There’s a lot you can do to settle into a routine and brush off the everyday stress that comes with being a student, but in a less vapid way. Sure, a latte or a bath might provide some sense of serenity for a mere second, but you have to think about the long term. Finals week isn’t the only time that we struggle, so you have to consider beyond fast-fixes.

Self-care isn’t exactly supposed to be blissful afternoons without a care in the world, but rather a plan to put into action to take care of yourself. That’s right, I said it: self-care isn’t easy and fast. Deep down, self-care is about self-fulfillment, and sometimes, that’s harder to achieve than anything – especially during the school year.

Let’s get down to business and chat about what it really takes to care for yourself during the school year.

Start the week by saying no to burn-out

If I'm being honest, probably the number one source of stress and struggle in school comes from feeling totally exhausted. You know, the feeling of trying to balance a full schedule of sports, clubs, academics, the arts, a part-time job, and studying. Sound all too familiar? It’s near impossible to “just cut something out of your schedule.” Yeah, right, try choosing between that dual-enrollment class and paid internship. No, thank you.

Don’t worry, there are ways to work around your busy schedule that don’t involve ditching other areas of your life, the social one included.

Plan it out 

Balancing your schedule is the key to staying sane during the week. Don’t plan too many things on one day, or it simply won’t get done! By using a planner, you can prioritize, balance your week, and never forget a thing. 

Make a list 

There’s nothing better in this world than crossing everything off of your to-do list. Making a list will allow you to focus on the present, and not all of those ideas swimming around in your mind (although we’re sure those are amazing, too).

“There’s really nothing like listing it all out at the beginning of the week,” says Millie of Boulder Creek High School, “It gives me an easily accessible place to chart out all of my responsibilities and obligations throughout the week.”

Keep it going by keeping it clean

Now that you’ve planned out your week, it’s time to add in the essentials. Planning your schedule out is one thing, but actually committing to it is another.

That brings me to the health commitment: You can’t expect to be at full force if you’re not taking care or your body, so why not keep the ball rolling and be the best for yourself? Give your body the resources to do great work, then sit back and watch the magic happen.

Work it out

Believe it or not, working out can actually make you feel better. Still don’t believe me? Take a chance on a free yoga class in your community. If you’re more of a fighter, try a women’s boxing class. And if you’re more of the fun type, try a Zumba or Barre class (I’m a huge fan of this ballet-inspired workout regime).


Yes, I saw you reach for your Hydroflask just now! If you don’t stay hydrated, the amount of stress dehydration can induce on your body is unreal. I’ve seen it first-hand working as a summer camp counselor in one of the hottest states in America. If you struggle with drinking water, try adding fruit or flavoring to it. In this case, anything is better than nothing.


This is incredibly hard for students, much harder than it should be. Perhaps you struggle with sleep, or maybe you’re just too busy to go to bed before midnight. Whatever it is, make sure you’re keeping track of how long you’re sleeping and how you feel the day after. This will help you gauge how much sleep is right for you. Trust me.

“Getting good sleep is so important because it can set the mood for your whole day,” says Jodi of Boulder Creek High School, “When I don’t get enough sleep, I usually wake up already feeling defeated and throughout the whole day I just don’t feel well.”

Detox & revitalize 

This is the fun part! Pull out your face masks, candles, and that new Ariana Grande album you’ve been listening to on repeat. It’s time to celebrate after a week well-managed.

Sort out your “night off” 

Seriously. As people constantly on the go, we tend to shove our own wellbeing under the rug sometimes (hint: this isn’t how we should do it). Do yourself a favor and pre-plan a night off. That’s right. Shut down the work computer, don’t answer that phone call, and give yourself a night to relax.

If that’s face masks for you, a night at hot yoga, or a high-energy movie night with your girls, you do you. This is your time.

Plan a social media vacay 

Yes, influencer friends, I can hear your sigh. We all know it’s true, but social media can impact us for the better or for worse. Even taking a few hours away from your cell phone can make a world of difference. 

I hope that maybe you’ve learned a thing or two about balancing your week as a student. Your next step is just to implement these things until they become habit!

As a student, it can be a struggle to find your balance, but before you know it, you’ll be on your way to a well-balanced, healthy, happy life. You’ve got this!