Self-Care: It's More than Netflix and Sheet Masks

If you search “self-care” on Pinterest, you’ll be faced with about 3,500 different pins of what that means to different people. About half of those pins are lists that look something like:

  1. Take a bubble bath

  2. Do a face mask

  3. Eat chocolate

  4. Go to the gym 

  5. Drink water

  6. Watch your favorite Netflix movie

  7. Light a candle

And so on. If you were to get really introspective and ask yourself, “does gorging my face on chocolate chip cookies and watching Mamma Mia for the ninth time after an extremely busy/stressful day make me feel any better,” what would your answer be?

“Self-care” means so many different things to different people, and sometimes Netflix, charcoal masks, and chocolate chip cookies aren’t enough.

How do you deal with having three tests, two papers, and four meetings in one week? What happens when you’ve been rushing that one sorority that you’re dying to be in and they don’t choose you? What do you turn to when you find yourself on the E-Board of three clubs with one off-campus and one on-campus job, while still trying to manage a healthy social life, go to the gym every day, allow adequate time for your S.O., and still call your family every week? How do you manage?

 

This is where we need to broaden our perspective of what “self-care” really means. It’s nearly impossible to throw on a sheet mask and pretend as all your stresses float away. “Me time” in that sense does only exactly its namesake: “masks” the problem.

 

Truly taking care of yourself means being proactive in the face of personal stressors. If you have an overwhelming amount of homework and reading to do, catching up on Nikkietutorials’ most recent uploads isn’t going to make that stressor disappear. YouTube (and the like) merely pushes the problem down the line, causing it to become a larger stressor later on. The only way to tackle academic stressors is to actually tackle them. Do the homework. Study for an hour. Send those emails you’re behind on. Tackling issues that cause stress and anxiety is the best (and most important) way to relieve that anxiety.

 

That being said, cramming your face into a textbook for six hours non-stop isn’t self-care either. Study breaks every hour that last a maximum of ten minutes (yes, just ten minutes) is the most efficient way to give your brain a rest after a long period of focus-time. Short breaks keep you “in the zone” while giving you adequate time to breathe.

While the work must be done, the other best, most proactive way to practice self-care (the one that nobody talks about) is to go.to.bed. If it’s 3:30 AM and you’re still knee-deep in Calculus, turn the computer off, close the textbook, and get some sleep. You’ll never be able to check off your to-do list with your eyes half-open. Self-care means getting enough sleep, and knowing when enough is enough. Pushing your personal limits, especially when it comes to sleep, can only get you so far, and it certainly doesn’t help you in the long-term.

 

You have to prioritize. If you’re sacrificing sleep time, eating time, shower time, or friend time because you don’t have enough time, you have to start considering what you really care about.

 

Imagine this: your mental health is like a rubber band. Say that classes just started and you just got on the E-Board of your favorite club. It’s more responsibility, but you enjoy it. Your rubber band stretches a little. You find this on-campus job that shouldn’t be too much commitment, but your off-campus job doesn’t pay well and you need the money. Your rubber band stretches a little more. Eventually, things start to add up, and that rubber band gets stretched to its breaking point. Broken rubber bands are not the goal.

 

Self-care is more than Netflix and face masks. Self-care is knowing when you need an “adult time out” or an entire night in, but also completing those tasks that lead you to need self-care. Self-care is asking for help and accepting it. Self-care is listening to your body and your mind and making sound decisions based off of what those two parts need. Face masks are fun, and Netflix is the bomb, but, when it comes to relieving stress, they don’t work for everybody, and they certainly don’t solve the issue at hand. Take control and action in the face of adversity, and nothing can stop you. College is hard, life can be hard, but with support, deep breaths, and a little self-care (maybe a cookie or two), you can do anything.

*All gifs courtesy of www.giphy.com