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Self-care Tips for Students in a Pinch

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

It’s official! With the gradual return of (mostly) comfortable outdoor temperatures in New York City, pumpkin spice and back-to-school jitters. Summer break has drawn to a close and another fall semester has begun at Pace University.

For a vast majority of students, adjusting to academic life after an extended break is rather difficult. The workload slowly yet steadily builds and characterizes the advent of a new school year, which leads to a significant increase in time spent hitting the books and a significant decrease in time spent caring for ourselves.

Though most of us spend a great deal of time and energy attempting to strike a balance between our studies and self-care routines. It is inevitable that academic-related priorities win, as we weigh the pros and cons of getting a high GPA or getting into acts of self-care.

However, there is still hope for us! After doing a bit of research on small acts of self-care and testing them out myself during my first year of college, here are some tried and true tips and tricks that can be easily implemented into a jam-packed schedule:

Take Notes

In my humble opinion, when it comes to technological tools for self-care, the Apple Notes app is the most underrated and underutilized. This built-in app can be used to create lists of affirmations, aspirations, gratitude, and things you’re looking forward to — all of which promote positive thinking. If you’re short on time, you don’t have to worry about crafting the perfect list in one go — even jotting down just one simple point while you’re walking to class or taking a study break is better than nothing at all!

Embracing the In-Between

Waiting periods occur in everyday life and are not stretches of time that anyone would venture to call thrilling. These moments that we usually spend idling and worrying, is time that could be spent taking care of ourselves. From carrying around a portable cuticle oil, hand lotion, and/or lip balm and using these items while you’re waiting for the elevator to arrive, to complimenting someone’s outfit while in line at Café 101 and getting their contact information. These minutes spent waiting can be made just as valuable to our mental well-being as hours spent doing things we enjoy.

Pause the Music

Before you begin to panic, I don’t want you to stop listening to music! However, what I do want to suggest is taking a break from listening to your sad playlist — especially during moments when you’re not necessarily feeling upset to begin with. As someone who listens to music by artists such as Phoebe Bridgers and Mitski while doing chores, I’m still working on implementing this tip into my own life — but I have noticed that my overall mood significantly improves when I actively avoid listening to songs in a minor key for long periods of time.

Lift Your Mood(board)

While it is extraordinarily cliché, the old adage about pictures being worth a thousand words do hold a large amount of truth to it. Taking a few minutes out of your day to create a mood board (or view one — Her Campus Pace Pinterest, anyone?) displaying your interests, your fondest memories, your hopes, and dreams, etc., can serve as a reminder of the person you are and the person you’re working towards becoming, which is equally comforting and motivating.

Define Your Terms

In the end, self-care doesn’t only consist of pampered nights and shopping sprees. Sometimes, self-care is pushing yourself to do something you might not want to at the moment (within reason, of course!) in order to benefit a future you. Other times, it’s taking leaps of faith and stepping outside of your comfort zone when you know doing this will allow you to become a better version of yourself. Saying “no” when it’s best for your emotional well-being, going out of your way to be kind to yourself and others when something has left you feeling bitter, or persevering and turning your day around after it’s gotten off to a rocky start — can all be considered acts of self-care in their own right. Defining what self-care is to you and practicing it in a way that suits your needs requires no physical effort or time spent away from performing necessary tasks. It is a gradual shift in mindset that will only help you in the long run.

Hi! My name is Gena Buckley, and I'm a junior in the Political Science and Peace & Justice Studies programs at Pace University.