Self-Care is Tough: Here Are 4 Ways To Incorporate It This Week

Without a fall break this year, it’s been easy to look at the rest of the semester as a marathon that you’re already getting tired of running. As the midpoint of the semester approaches, I challenge you to take a second look at your self-care routine this week and see what you can change or implement to make it work better. After all, self-care is tough, so here are a couple ideas for how to incorporate it into your life this coming week.

  1. 1. Prioritize Your Breathwork

    Breathwork is one of those self-care practices that’s hard to pick up but extremely necessary to feel at the top of your game on a day-to-day basis. For those of us with a busy schedule, fitting extended periods of breathwork practice into our day may feel impossible. I’m here to tell you that, in fact, it’s super manageable if you put a little time and effort into making it part of your routine. You can reap the same benefits of breathwork if you practice it for two minutes five times a day as you can if you sit down for a ten minute period once a day. As you walk across campus or take a break from homework, think about slowing your breath down and focusing on it and the sensations around you. An easy breathwork practice–and one of my favorites–is the box breath: breathe out of your mouth for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, breath in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds and repeat. While you take your concentrated breaths, bring yourself into the present moment by observing the physical sensations around you. It’s a great way to give your brain a break and reset yourself in preparation for your next task. With back-to-back classes, it’s a habit of mine to reorient myself with breathwork as I walk from one to another in order to shed myself of the stresses and anxieties of what came before and prepare myself to be entirely open for what comes next.

  2. 2. Choose You Once A Day

    This can take so many different forms. It could look like you taking time to recharge your social battery by doing something by yourself. It could also look like putting down your books and assignments to take some time to catch up on a favorite show or walk around the lake with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Choosing you once a day is a great way to remind yourself that you have inherent value set apart from your ability to achieve; you deserve to be treated the way you would treat a best friend or a beloved relative. For me, choosing myself once a day means stepping back from the hustle and bustle of my daily routine to ask myself how I can give back to my body and mind for so gracefully allowing me to get through all the tasks and obligations asked of me. Lately, this has taken the form of convincing myself that meetings and events that bring me joy but otherwise serve no quantifiable purpose are no less important than those that are oriented towards a larger goal. Because of this, I’ve been more willing to make time to do things that make me happy and that refresh me, which has helped give me the rest and strength to tackle the challenges of this semester more successfully.

  3. 3. Place Yourself In Nature

    What better place to do this than Notre Dame in the fall? With the lakes, the Grotto and the beautiful campus scenery mere steps away from you at any moment, putting yourself in nature and taking time to see and appreciate it is incredibly easy. I take a lot of walks through nature with my dog, but if I really want to immerse myself in the beauty of what’s around me, I set out by myself with my earbuds and a podcast or audio book. I’ve been listening to a lot of The Hilarious World of Depression episodes on my walks lately, because its content is light and uplifting and at an hour an episode, it encourages me to keep walking for longer than I would normally. Without outside interruptions–I put my phone on silent and keep it in my pocket–I can listen to the conversations between John Moe and his guests while I appreciate the beauty of what’s around me. It’s hard to pull myself out of autopilot and look at what’s around me when I walk between my classes, so scheduling intentional time to be within nature has been a game changer for me.

  4. 4. Log Your Gratitudes – And Share Them With Friends

    Recently, I found myself a member of a group chat that exchanges weekly gratitudes with each other. While it was hard for me to make a routine of recognizing my gratitudes in a conscious way when I was only accountable to myself, sharing what I am grateful for to a group of people I respect and admire makes me more willing and excited to engage in this kind of self-care routine. Not only am I specifically looking around me on a regular basis for gratitudes to share, I am recognizing a lot of gratitudes I’d been neglecting as a result of seeing the gratitude messages of others. Changing into comfy sweatpants and warm socks to do my homework for the night? Definitely something I was taking for granted until I saw how special and noteworthy it is for others. My advice to you is to make a gratitude group chat with friends or, on a weekly basis, shoot a text to an existing group chat and ask them to share what they’re grateful for that week. It’s a quick and easy way to see the mundane in a new light and recognize casual  blessings for what they are.