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Mental Health

Practicing Self-Care When You Don’t Feel Like Taking Care of Yourself

We’ve all had those days, weeks, even months where you just feel awful. Whether the cause is mental, physical, emotional, or an unholy combination of all three, a bad mental health streak can take a toll on your health and prevent you from taking care of yourself, all of which feeds back into feeling awful. It’s important to practice self-care, especially when it’s the last thing you want to do for yourself. I can’t speak for everyone, but cutting self-care down to the basics makes it easy for me, even on my worst days, to make myself feel a little more functional.

Take a nap, if you need one

Tired? Take a nap! Getting enough sleep is on the top of several self-care lists, but depending on your study habits, pulling all-nighters may happen more often than is healthy. It might seem like a waste of time when you have a metric ton of work to plow through, but even 20 minutes of sleep (or closing your eyes, if sleep won’t come to you) can do wonders for focus and energy levels.

Drink water

It’s very basic, and it seems almost overstated at this point, but stay hydrated. Drinking at least one water bottle’s worth of water daily will help with the physical aspects of feeling gross, and help with mental processes, too. On top of that, if you’re in a state where you’re crying often (don’t worry, I’ve been there), it’s especially important to stay hydrated.

Listen to music

On the topic of crying, sometimes you just need to listen to that one song in order to trigger the waterworks and reach catharsis for whatever emotion you’ve been holding in. Whatever your mood, pick a song you connect with and listen to it without multitasking. Focusing on the lyrics and how the music makes you feel can act either as a pick-me-up or a much-needed emotional release.

Check one thing off your to-do list

Everyone has a to-do list, whether it’s purely mental or an actual, physical list. Pick something, and do it. Whether it’s a homework assignment, washing your dirty dishes, or making your bed, accomplishing one task can give you the motivation to start another one and make a daunting list seem more manageable.

Take a shower

When we’re really going through it, we often forget to maintain personal hygiene, and that can come in several forms. Taking a shower will both help you accomplish a task and feel less gross physically, regardless of the state of your personal hygiene. 

Watch something that makes you laugh

In the same way that listening to a banger can trick your brain into being happy, forcing yourself to watch something that makes you laugh can raise your mood. Whether it’s binging your favorite episodes of The Office or Brooklyn Nine-Nine, watching a movie, or rewatching that one Vine compilation that always makes you chuckle, find something that’s been able to make you laugh in the past and let it work its magic.

Leave your room for at least ten minutes

It’s so easy to isolate yourself when you’re feeling awful, so take the time to leave your room at least once a day—beyond going to class. Go for a short walk around campus, leave your room to get food at Peirce, or head over to a friend’s room for a change (and some good old fashioned face-to-face interaction). You never know who you’ll run into, and it’s a good reminder that you’re a part of the world outside your window.

Make sure to eat a meal

I understand that Peirce doesn’t always have the best options for food on campus, but that’s not an excuse to stay in your room and eat pizza rolls in place of a proper meal. If you’re not in the mood to go to Peirce, order takeout alone or with some friends. Go to Chilitos or the VI. If you don’t feel like spending extra money, just swallow your pride and go to Peirce. Whatever you end up choosing, it’s going to be better than microwaved pizza rolls, I promise.

Talk to someone you trust

If all else fails, talk to someone, whether that’s a friend, your family, or a counselor. Someone you trust listening to you vent can provide another perspective on your situation, offer advice and support, and remind you that you’re not alone in your feelings. Vocalizing what’s been on your mind can lift a weight off your shoulders that you may not have realized you were carrying.

No matter how poorly you’re feeling, taking care of yourself should remain a priority. Self-care doesn’t need to be elaborate and can be as simple as it needs to be, just as long as you’re practicing care and progressing toward feeling like yourself again.


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Piper Diers

Kenyon '22

Piper is a writer and Campus Correspondent for the Kenyon chapter of Her Campus. She is a Senior majoring in English and Sociology originally from Maple Grove, Minnesota. In her free time, she enjoys writing, binge watching movies and TV shows, and reading.
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