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5 Simple Self-Care Tips For A Busy College Student

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hampton U chapter.

Being an involved college student with a social life is a full-time job these days. With so many responsibilities and so much going on around you, it can be easy to fall into self-neglect. The risk of forgetting to take care of yourself is why being intentional with self-care is a key part of not drowning in your busy schedule. Self-care isn’t always a major act of kindness towards yourself, but it’s also about the small things, which can be easy to lose track of when life gets busy. Here are some simple ways to purposefully incorporate self-care into your routine and overall lifestyle.

  1. Schedule a time to eat every day.

There have been plenty of times when I was so busy that my first and only meal of the day was a bag of Goldfish at 7 pm. While situations like this are common, it’s not okay. Something that could prevent this is physically adding meal times to your schedule. However, be sure that you are realistic in your planning. For instance, if you know you’re not ready for a three-meals-a-day kind of life, don’t write three meals a day into your schedule. It would be beneficial to start by scheduling at least one full non-negotiable meal a day. The said mealtime shouldn’t be a little fifteen-minute window where you’ll have to scarf down your food and run to the next place (although that could be required here and there); it should be at least 40 minutes, giving you enough time to sit down, eat, and rest your mind a little bit. Scheduling things for yourself that you already know you will not accomplish only trains your mind to be okay with ignoring your accountability tool of choice (planner, calendar, to-do list, etc.), thus making it less effective. Prioritizing eating will help you have more energy throughout the day and will help you to give your best to your daily responsibilities and feel better in general.

  1. Schedule mandatory, weekly self-check-ins.

Sometimes there is so much going on that instead of processing our feelings and experiences, we subconsciously throw them into a junk drawer in the back of our minds so that we can “keep it pushing.” While this method can help you keep moving at your desired speed, it can lead to a disastrous halt later down the line. When your life is demanding, every day doesn’t allow time for you to sit and dive into your feelings and make sure that you are genuinely okay mentally, but this is the exact reason why setting aside time at least once a week to check in with yourself and see how you’re doing. Check-ins could look like journaling about everything in the background of your mind, crying about that thing that happened a week ago that you didn’t allow yourself time to process, sitting in deep thought by yourself, or, my favorite, talking to yourself out loud. Your check-ins should be done regularly to ensure you’re mentally and emotionally okay, and a time should be allotted to “not be okay” before jumping back into your responsibilities. 

  1. Preset the number of all-nighters you will allow yourself for the semester.

Rest is one of the best ways to take care of yourself, but sometimes, our workloads can make us view it as more negotiable than it should be. Please do not allow an excessive amount of all-nighters to fill your semester. To hold yourself accountable, estimate how many times you will let yourself miss a night of sleep for the entire semester. While this number is up to you, I will say that any number over eight may defeat the purpose. When your course load becomes so much that it feels impossible to get all your work done and get sleep consistently, it is time to communicate with your professors. At least one of them is bound to be understanding; if they’re not, contact someone higher up for advice. Any A earned at the expense of your mental health is not worth it.

  1. Prioritize hydration.

I want to preface this advice by saying that most people are not as hydrated as they seem. I say this to let you know that your minimal or non-existent water drinking is not something to shame yourself about, but it is something that would be good to change. Staying hydrated is essential because dehydration has so many effects on your body, such as headaches, fatigue, light-headedness, rapid heart rate, dry skin, and dry mouth, just to name a few. I don’t know about you, but I want absolutely no part. These effects would only lessen your ability to perform, and we can’t have that, especially when it’s avoidable. From my experience, one thing that has helped me stay hydrated is having a reusable water bottle; it’s not necessary, but something about my water bottle being cute makes me want to drink out of it more. And if you don’t believe that the presence of a water bottle will be enough to remind you to drink out of it, write water breaks into your schedules as well.

  1. Give yourself grace.

My last but most crucial self-care tip would have to be to give yourself grace. Grace is the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn since being in college. Yes, you should hold yourself accountable and strive for greatness, but don’t look down on yourself so much in the moments when it feels like you fell short. Being hard on yourself only adds extra heartaches and headaches to the naturally stressful experience of being a college student. Giving yourself grace is not villainizing yourself for your mistakes and shortcomings. So, you didn’t get the grade you wanted on that test or paper; instead of feeling less intelligent or like a lazy person, sit, acknowledge your negative feelings, and take steps to do better next time. Sometimes you’re going to do your best and still not get the results you want, and that does not make you any less of a person. You can only put your best effort forward; even when you don’t, you can improve next time. Beating yourself up will not change anything that has already happened, but it can only negatively affect your future if you allow it. Keeping this in mind will significantly help your mental health.

Self-care is not very complicated, but it does have to be done with an intentional mind, especially when you’re a busy college student. If you’ve noticed you’ve slacked up on taking care of yourself, pick at least one act of self-care from this list that you’re missing and incorporate it into your routine. It will make a world of difference!

Kierstyn Chambers is a first year English Education Major, from Birmingham, Alabama. She enjoys helping people and making the people around her happy. She plans to become a teacher and try to help low income school systems. She also loves movies and poetry.