How to Plan the Perfect Self-Care Day

As the semester drudges on and gets increasingly busy, acts of self-care can fall to the wayside. While I am certainly no health, wellness or time management expert, I am a busy student and I recommend choosing one day a week to serve as a self-care day. This doesn’t necessarily mean not getting any work done, just simply prioritizing self-care and making time for yourself. These days will surely help you stay on top of things through the week and can help maintain your mental and physical well-being. Preferably, this day would be either a weekend or day you don’t have classes. While spending the day in bed or on the couch just eating snacks and watching movies is fine sometimes (especially the day after finals end!) that’s not what I intended with this concept. So what should one do on a “self-care” day? Here are my suggestions.


1) Let yourself get some sleep


There are some weeks when I think I need an IV drip of coffee to get through the day. When deadlines all bunch up, it’s sometimes necessary to work into the early hours of the morning to get everything done. On your self-care day, let yourself sleep in as much as possible (or at least get the recommended 7-8 hours). When you get tired at the end of the day, drop what you’re working on and go to sleep. Sleep is necessary for your physical and mental health. Plus, this extra sleep will help you do your best the day after when you get back to the grind.


2) Cook yourself some nutritious food



When things get really busy, most people eat things simply out of convenience. During the end of the semester bagels and microwave meals become staples for me. Use your self-care day to eat something for breakfast (the meal I think most people neglect first when things get super busy) other than a bagel with peanut butter as you run out the door. This doesn’t have to be anything super complicated, just make something you enjoy! On days like this I like to make smoothie bowls loaded up with lots of toppings or banana pancakes with a side of lots of fruit. Continue this idea into lunch and dinner. Make sure to eat plenty of fruits and veggies, whole grains and healthy fats. Also, make sure to hydrate! If you live on campus and cooking is too difficult for you, get something nutritious but enjoyable from the dining hall and just eat, don’t try to multitask by answering emails or reading your textbook.


3) Move your body



While I personally think it’s important to incorporate regular exercise into your life, I also struggle to make time for it when things get super busy. Use your self-care day to make sure you get a little exercise. This also doesn’t have to be complicated, and should be something you actually like to do. If you already have a regular exercise routine, make sure to fit it into your day and maybe spend a little extra time at the gym (or on your run, bike, etc.). If you don’t have a regular exercise habit, use your self-care day to start one. The exercise you do can be as simple as taking a walk, but also maybe try jogging, cycling or check out the classes for that day offered at the Geneseo Workout Center (if you’re a member of the gym, all classes are free). Walking and yoga are good choices for people looking for a more gentle approach.  


4) Pay extra attention to your hygiene



While I sure hope everyone is still taking showers and brushing their teeth when things get super busy, some other smaller and less necessary tasks may get overlooked. Use your self-care day to take off the chipped nail polish, cut your toenails, exfoliate, shave, moisturize your skin or anything else you may like to do. While facemasks alone don’t qualify (in my opinion) as sufficient self-care, if doing a facemask will make you happy and feel confident in your skin in the upcoming week, go ahead and do it!


5) Do something unrelated to your work



Between school, club responsibilities and maybe a job, who has time for hobbies? I certainly tend to neglect the things I like to do during the school year, but what’s the harm in doing them for an hour a two a week? Take a time to pursue your interests and talents like music, art or photography. If this doesn’t interest you, maybe do some reading for leisure or take a walk in the park. If none of this seems appealing maybe meet up with a friend for lunch or coffee and just blow off some steam that way. This is sure to lower your stress levels and help you feel refreshed.


6) Get yourself organized



Organization has never been a strength of mine. I tend to easily let things get cluttered and out of control when I’m feeling stressed. Set aside some time to get your things in order. Maybe this just means picking up some clutter and finally folding the laundry that’s been sitting in to corner for three days now. Personally, I always like to take some time out (usually on Sunday) to make sure I have all the assignments due and meetings I have to attend for the upcoming weeks written in my planner. Seeing everything written out helps me manage my time for the week. Use your time to write out to-do lists, clean your room, organize your desk or get some laundry done. Having everything in its place, knowing what needs to get done and having clean clothes will help your upcoming days (especially your mornings!) run much smoother.


If you have time for two or three or all six of these things each day, by all means do them every day! In fact, it’s probably healthiest if you do these ideas each day. However, as a student, I know too well that sometimes you simply can’t do any self-care beyond the absolutely necessary (eating, taking medications, showering, etc.). Self-care is incredibly important and without incorporating into your busy schedule, you can easily burn out or get sick. Incorporating these six things into your week is the best way to love yourself when the semester gets tough.


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