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Mental Health

Non-Commercial Valentine’s Day Self-Care

Self-care is a year-long commitment, but Valentine’s Day and the surrounding season is a great time to pause and think about the ways we give and receive love in all its forms. While we may celebrate Galentine’s Day and Valentine’s Day with friends and loved ones, we can’t forget to continue to make time for ourselves, too, and on a busy college schedule (and college budget), self-care may look different than expected. It’s more than face masks and bubble baths (and will last longer than either of those), and the following tips can help you give yourself some (free) love during this season of the year and beyond.

Reevaluate boundaries that aren’t working for you.

We often talk about setting boundaries as a form of self-care, but not as many of us reevaluate those boundaries regularly to see how they’re working. Sit down one night and go through areas of your life where you’ve set boundaries to see how they’re working. From there, you may adjust the boundary, remove the boundary altogether or implement a supporting boundary. You can even think about how your boundaries have been received by those around you and decide if you need to remind others of it before the situation arises again. For help with boundaries, I can’t say enough good things about the book “Set Boundaries, Find Peace” by Nedra Glover Tawwab. Check it out from your local library (see below) and start getting insight into how to set your boundaries effectively and ideas for where those boundaries can occur!

Borrow some self-help books from the library.

One of the biggest lies of self-care culture is that you need to buy things to practice it, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Self-care is a commitment to yourself, and if you’re feeling like you need something new in your life, there are ways to figure it out that don’t require spending money. If you’re looking for new ideas on how to care for yourself more effectively, check out your local library’s self-help section for free tips. It’ll give you access to a wide range of books without having to spend money (seriously, more people should be using their libraries). Plus, if you start to read a book and find out that the tips in it aren’t in line with your ideas of self-help, it’s incredibly easy to return the book and search for something you feel more passionately about implementing in your life.

Speak your truth.

Don’t want to go to that party because you know it’ll make you anxious? Feeling a bit blue but don’t know what to do? Hate how your friend talks to you? Sometimes the first step in a journey of self-care is admitting (to yourself or others) what you are truly feeling but have ignored. Maybe it’s that you need to break up with a toxic friend or that you really need to go back to more regular therapy, or maybe it’s that you feel unseen. Regardless of the thing you’ve been keeping hidden away, chances are, you’ll be able to move forward once you acknowledge to yourself or your loved ones that something different needs to happen.

Honor your health.

It’s hard to stay healthy, and health looks different for everyone. College may be filled with grind culture and other toxic mentalities like diet culture and shaming, but one of the biggest acts of self-care is taking a step back to listen to your body and mind and what they actually need. It can look like reaching out to an expert to get help or saying “no” to plans if you need to take care of yourself, but it’s important to understand that this only works if you tailor the experience to you. You can’t succeed doing what your friends are doing when their pictures of health look different than yours. For me, one of the best ways I have honored my health in college is being open with my close friends about my chronic illness. It has helped me build a support network and enabled me to ask for help from my friends while still realizing that I have to put my health as a priority, which may mean I miss out on some things. True friends will be there along the way to help support you on your journey to honoring your health and won’t make you feel bad in the slightest for what you choose to do. 

Test out some journaling.

We all have heard that journaling works for self-care, but what better way to test that out than with the aspects provided on this list? It’ll give you a starting place to return to during Valentine’s season and beyond, and having thoughts down on paper helps keep you accountable to your goal of self-care. It doesn’t have to be cheesy, either – journaling may bring up some big, scary feelings you weren’t expecting, and that’s ok. Maybe you spend the time journaling all about the self-help tips you learned from a book or maybe you write about how people keep disrespecting your boundaries and how it makes you feel. There’s no right or wrong way to journal, as long as it feels productive to you and your self-care journey. 

Grace Curtin

Bryn Mawr '24

Grace is a political science major from Northern Virginia. When not studying, she enjoys bullet journaling, reading, and yoga. She can frequently be found cheering on the Philadelphia Flyers or yelling at the TV while watching "The Bachelor."
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