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Making Time for Self Care

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.


Busy, a word we are all a little too familiar with- I mean let’s be honest, at this point, we could probably ask “busy” out for a romantic dinner and a movie. But “busy”, as tempting as it sounds, is not exactly a state of living we should aspire to.

Let me be sure to make this distinction early on, there are two types of busy, the healthy and the unhealthy. The latter is what I’m talking about here- the romanticized overexertion and sleepless nights. Don’t get me wrong, I’m 115% down for the grind. Hustle hard girl, go get that internship, kill that job interview, get that degree. While you’re fighting for your future don’t forget about the delicate being that is you. The you that is here. Now.

I’m not gonna ask you to set aside your aspirations, I’m going to ask you to be very mindful of the smaller moments you spend in between the large amount of time you spend slaying life. Self Care should be the first priority for everyone. Yes, I said EVERYONE. Students, teachers, parents, I don’t care who you are or what you do, if you can’t take care of yourself you can not properly care for another human being, especially, your future self.

Hard to conceptualize? Think of it this way, you dig yourself a garden. You take great care to plant at the perfect time of year, you prepare your soil, plant your seeds, water, and nurture them, and see them grow into beautiful flowers, but what happens when you forget to water them? To churn the soil, and pull the weeds? Your flowers that once stood so tall and vibrant begin to wilt, fade, and eventually die. Your soul is no different.

Your mind, body, and spirit are begging you to take a step back. You may be asking, “But how? How can I stop when I’m running at 100 miles an hour? If I stop I’ll fall behind, and that can’t happen.” Or maybe you’re saying to yourself, “I’m good,” you take naps, you call your mom, you eat salad. That’s taking care of yourself, right? I’m here to tell you that is not what self-care looks like. Hot baths and tea are not going to help you maintain your overall well being. I’m not saying these little things aren’t nice, or can’t provide a form of stress relief. What i’m telling you is that those are not the important things. They aren’t the real dynamics of self-care. Self-care consists of multidimensional and intricate actions, and states of mind.

Self-care, are you sick of hearing that phrase yet? What a thing to set erroneous trends off of.  Between the romanticizing of self endangerment and exhaustion, and the idea that a bath bomb is going to solve all your problems, the true meaning has been lost.

In Dorothea Orem’s Self-Care Framework and her Theory of Self-Care, she refers to self-care as actions that individuals initiate and perform on their own behalf, that works towards maintaining their life, health, and well-being.

I’m gonna add on to that. Not only should these actions be self-initiated and come from a place of intrinsic motivation, they should be practiced regularly, even religiously. This is so, SO important. Just like your flower garden needs constant tending and nurturing, so do you. In addition to these actions being regularly practiced, they also need to be separated from your everyday chaos as much as possible.

Self-care is something that is very personal, it will never look the same for two people. So take everything you hear about self-care with a grain of salt, only adapt a self-care routine that is going to fit for you, or it will not serve its purpose. If you don’t know where to start, take a look at these 5 categories; physical, intellectual, social, spiritual, and emotional.  The trick is to find something in each of these areas that fulfill that dimension of self-care. A good way to begin getting in the habit of fitting into a regular self-care routine, is by integrating it into the things you’re already doing on a daily basis. 

  1. Physical forms of self-care do not always have to come in the form of exercise. Something as simple as eating can affect how you feel. More specifically, the way you think about your food affects how your body digests it. So be nice to yourself when you are eating, don’t curse yourself for eating the brownie. Be mindful when you are eating. If you are cramming down your meal while studying for your exam, thinking about that stupid boy, or running late for your next class, your mind is actually diverting blood flow away from your digestive system. We all know how hard it can be to eat healthy when you’re a busy college study on a “single slice of cheese at Cosmos” kind of budget, but being more mindful of the fact that you’re eating, can help your body do a better job of digesting your food in the first place. You can read up on this in great detail here.

  2. Tackling the intellectual category can get tricky. When your school schedule is stressful and overwhelming the last thing you probably want to do is pull out a book. If you’re not into visiting the library just for fun, try something a little more manageable. Instead of scrolling through your Instagram feed while you’re waiting in line for Starbucks, open up an ebook, visit the homepage of the New York Times, open up the first article you see and read it. Exercising your brain is not only going to help you focus better when it comes time to buckle down and study for those midterms, it’s going to help release the intellectual stress that you can build up when doing school work is the only thing you’re putting real brain power towards.

  3. Social- this is a big one. I can not stress this next point enough. Remove the toxic people from your life. Get rid of them. You are not obligated to apologize for this. You are not obligated to justify it. You are not obligated to keep someone in your life who brings more misery than joy. You know the kind of people I’m talking about. The “friend” who criticizes you and competes with you instead of supporting you. The boy who you only hear from when he has nothing better to do. The kid you sit next to in class who complains for the whole 50 minutes. Get.Rid.Of.Them. Ask yourself, What purpose do the serve when it comes to enriching my life? I go out of my way to be there for them, do they do the same for me? If I really needed help with something, would they be there? I’ll let you interpret the answers you gave yourself, and act accordingly. Surround yourself with individuals who BRIGHTEN your light, not people who are intimidated by it, and encourage you to burn out before you have a chance to shine.

  4. The spiritual act of self-care is one that is going to look very different for everyone. So I’m going to leave this one open. Whatever you need to do to feel spiritually fulfilled, try to find time in your day to do it. Many people like to perform a spiritual act like praying or meditation right before bed, or immediately after waking up. This is a great way to set yourself up for having a good state of mind of the rest of your day.
  5. And finally, emotional self-care. A large part of emotion has to do with communication. They way we communicate with our loved ones, and with ourselves, is crucial. I highly encourage you to always, express your true emotions. Any attempt to cover them up,or accommodate them to fit with what other people want will harm you and probably make for a less than ideal situation. If you are in a friendship or relationship where that person can not take your emotions into consideration or is dismissive of your feelings, refer again to the 3rd dimension of self-care. When it comes to your internal communication I have two words for you to hold on to, be kind. We are our harshest critics in all areas of our lives. When you speak to yourself, think of how you would talk to your little sister, to your mom or your best friend. Be kind, be patient, be understanding. Next time you feel frustrated when looking in the mirror or checking your most recent test grade take a moment to breathe, and then think of what you would say to your best friend if they were feeling they way you are.

For the sake of time, this is as in-depth as I’m going to get with these categories. Again, all dimensions of self-care  are going to be molded and shaped based off of your personality, your emotional needs, and your situation. Think of this article as a seed you can plant in your brain, but when it comes time for the flowers to grow, that’s on you.


Lauren is currently majoring in Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences and minoring in Business in the Leeds School of Business, Leadership in the LSM Program, and Women and Gender Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Colorado Boulder. On campus Lauren currently holds the position of Her Campus CU Boulder's Chapter President and Campus Correspondent. She also acts as an Aerie Real on campus ambassador, held the position of  Victoria's Secret PINK Campus Rep for CU for the previous two years, and acts as the social media chairman and event coordinator for the PSICHI Psychology Honors Club within CU's Psychology department.  Outside of school Lauren founded and owns Empyreal Photography. When she's not looking through a camera lens or somewhere drinking chai, you can probably find her in a yoga class, petting a dog, or daydreaming about New York City.  
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