Self-Care Tips for a More Enjoyable College Experience

College can be stressful. We all know it. Whether it’s midterms, finals, papers, or on-campus jobs, many of us have experienced that hectic week (or several weeks), during which we find ourselves counting down the days till the term ends. It’s also easy to stop taking care of ourselves during these times, and this lack of self-care can actually have negative impacts on our health. To keep you feeling healthy and performing at your best level, here are a few self-care tips for you to incorporate into your routine:

 

  1. Make sure you’re eating well. Even when you’re swamped, it’s essential to keep yourself nourished. When you’re stressed, your immune system is already down. If you’re not eating well, your immunity will just continue to weaken, leaving you susceptible to illness at a time when you need all of your strength. To prevent this, pack some healthy snacks with you so that you have something to keep you fueled throughout the day, and make sure that no matter how busy your schedule is, you still have the time to eat nutritious meals.

  2. Try to make sure that the last thing you do before you go to bed isn’t school-related. If the last thing on your mind before falling asleep is your problem set or research paper, you might have a harder time falling asleep due to stress levels. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, try journaling or listening to relaxing music before turning the lights off.

  3. Stay social. When you’re stressing about finals, you might feel tempted to isolate yourself in order to avoid distractions, but taking breaks and interacting with others can actually increase your productivity. Completely cutting yourself off from the rest of the world can also cause you to rapidly lose motivation, leading to eventual burnout. Having lunch with a friend, or briefly chatting with a family member via Skype can help you to relieve some stress, and will likely leave you feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your work.

  4. Keep things in perspective. During exam season, it’s easy to get stressed about maintaining a high GPA. However, it’s important to keep in mind that grades don’t define a person. Yes, grades are important, and yes, you should work hard, but in the grand scheme of things, one test will likely have little impact on your future. Beyond putting your full effort into it, there’s not much else you can do, so don’t beat yourself up if your professor put that one concept on the exam that you couldn’t have predicted would be there.

  5. Try to be active. Even if you don’t have time for a lengthy workout, spending 20-30 minutes at the gym, or going on a quick run can boost your mood and keep you feeling energized. On those really busy days, even the few extra minutes spent walking outside while taking the scenic route on your way home has its benefits. Signing up for a fitness class, like yoga or dance, is another fun way to get some exercise while trying something new. If you’re having trouble sticking to a fitness regimen, setting aside specific times every week to work out will help you to build regular exercise into your routine.

  6. Stop putting yourself down. Sometimes, even when we don’t really mean it, we’re quick to degrade ourselves. Things like, “I’m so stupid,” or “Why I am I like this?” just slip out when we’re not thinking. However, the more we say self-deprecating things, the more we start to believe them. Be kind to yourself and make a conscious effort to push the negative thoughts out of your mind.

  7. Build in time every week for yourself.  Each week, try to do something fun. Whether it’s going to that party Friday night, signing up for the jewelry-making class you’ve always wanted to take, or simply ordering takeout and watching Netflix in your room, it’s important to have time to unwind in order to prevent burnout.

  8. Make note of all the positives in your life. I like to take two minutes out of my day to write down a few things that I’m grateful for and a few good things that happened that day. Keeping the positives in mind helps to combat negative feelings. Even if you don’t write them down daily, making a list of things that you have to be grateful for when you’re feeling down, or taking  several minutes to reflect on the positive aspects of your day when you’re overwhelmed can really help to battle stress.

 

Despite the stresses of college life, there are several things you can do in order to maintain your physical and mental health, most of which start with prioritizing yourself. So the next time you feel inundated with work, try putting the books away for a moment, and take the time to look after yourself. You’ll be a much happier student if you do.