How to Practice Self-Care in the Midst of Overwhelming Stress

There is no denying the fact that school is stressful. As college students, we have a plethora of academic responsibilities to handle, and sometimes it can get really overwhelming. All the while, we’re expected to be in good health— physically and mentally. Oh, also, don’t forget to have a social life! (There’s a little bead of sweat running down the side of my face as I’m writing this.) 

Yes, college is overwhelming, and sometimes it can feel like we don’t even have a moment to breathe. However, there are little things you can do to practice self-care, even in the midst of your busy week. Self-care doesn’t just have to be face masks, getting your nails done, and drinking a green smoothie once in a while. Self-care is much more than that. It's about achieving a good mindset, as well as reaching a physical level of wellness. And hey, we know this is challenging! Hopefully, these tips will help you achieve a more balanced, healthy lifestyle,  especially during your most stressful moments. 

Photo courtesy of Corinne Kutz

Let’s start with some of the more obvious ones: 

Face Masks

It can feel like putting on face masks is a big ordeal. You have to put them on, wait 20-30 minutes for them to dry, and then wash the whole thing off your face. You’re probably thinking that you don’t have time for that. However, there’s a solution, and they’re all the rage recently: sheet masks. Sheet masks have been in existence for about three years, but they are just recently becoming extremely popular. Why? Well, they’re easy. You don’t have to go through the whole mess of putting it on and washing it off. Once you take the sheet off your face, you don’t have to worry about anything else. My favorites are from the brand Pacifica. One thing I really love about face masks is that you can still be productive while wearing it. Another alternative to sheet masks is overnight masks. These are great because you just put them on and then go to sleep, and one of my favorites is Kiehl’s Overnight Ginger Leaf and Hibiscus Firming Mask.

Meditation When You Wake Up/ Before You Go to Sleep

Meditation can be as simple as taking five minutes to repeat some calming, motivational phrases to yourself. Just sit upright in your bed (or anywhere, really) with a straight posture, and close your eyes. Repeat phrases that make you feel good in your head over and over again, and start to believe them. Some examples of phrases that I like to think about: “I am calm; Everything will be okay; Today will be a productive day; I am loved.” This only takes five minutes (give or take, it’s all up to you!) and every time I meditate, I feel calmer and more at ease. Taking that time to reflect gives you clarity and helps you realize that your problems aren’t as big as you believe them to be. It's typical that people feel more anxious at night when they’re doing work or when they’re up late thinking about all of the things that they have to do the next day, but just taking a couple minutes to center your train of thought can really benefit you, especially when your workload gets tough. 

Those are some of the more “cliché” ways you can work on your well being. However, there are some even easier, every day ways that you can care for your mental and physical health, even when you’re unimaginably busy.

Talk About Positive Things

Instead of complaining about how stressed you are, or how little sleep you got, or how you’ve eaten like sh*t the past two days, talk about the good things that are going on in your life. It’ll completely change your mindset if you focus on the positives rather than the negatives. Talk about how proud you are of that grade you got on your exam, or how you just applied for your dream internship, rather than automatically resulting to complaining about all of the negative things that are happening in your life. 

Photo courtesy of Patrick Tomasso 

Accept and Learn From Your Mistakes, Hannah Montana Style

Hannah Montana once famously sang about the idea that nobody’s perfect, and she was absolutely right. Life happens, and sometimes things don’t go as planned. Yes, it sucks, but you have to learn how to get back on your feet and keep moving forward. It’s okay to make mistakes— we’re all human, and it’s inevitable. However, it is not okay to dwell on your mistakes and beat yourself up because of them. Like Hannah said, "You’ve gotta work it again and again ’til you get it right." You’ll come out stronger in the end because of your efforts to learn from your mistakes rather than having dwelled on them. 

Drink. Water.

This is really so obvious, but water is something that we take for granted. There are so many health benefits, and you’ll feel better about yourself just knowing that your nourished your body with something that is so naturally and purely good for you. However, fair warning: you might have to use the bathroom three times as much as you did before you started your increased water-drinking. 

Let Out a Good Cry Every Once in a While

Crying is cathartic. That massive release of all of your emotions can be so beneficial, especially in a time when you’re overwhelmed with stress and other troublesome emotions. When you’re done, wipe those tears away and get back on your grind, because you’re stronger than you realize and you can conquer anything. 

There are so many easy things you can do to better yourself. Self-care is certainly an individual thing; only you know what is best for you. Hopefully, though, these general tips helped you in some way and you gained some motivation to keep going, even when things get overwhelming.