The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Campuses across the nation are buzzing with anticipation to begin the Spring semester. But, what is the source – excitement and anticipation or anxiety? For some of you, it could be either one or the other, but for most, it is (hopefully) a healthy mix of both. To have a successful semester, it’s always a good idea to take a look at some self-care hacks. Your mental health is just as important as any grades, so take some time to ask yourself what self-care means to you.
Self-care can mean a variety of different things to different people. Some may interpret self-care as taking a step away from the world and doing nothing. This can give those the time to relax and be with themselves and their thoughts, while not having to worry about your responsibilities. Others may see self-care as a way to do hobbies or tasks that they are passionate about. This could be things such as painting, reading, setting time aside to cook or bake, etc. I personally enjoy practicing self-care in this fashion. While every once and a while it is great to have a relaxing lounge day, I use self-care as a way to prioritize myself during the semester.
It can be so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of assignments that you forget that school is simply a facet of your life. Think of yourself as a big 50 piece puzzle. Sure, school-related responsibilities may take up about 15 pieces of your puzzle, but there are 35 more that make you who you are. Without every single piece, it can be hard to see the whole picture for what it truly is. You deserve to give each and every part of yourself the attention and time that it deserves.
There may be weeks where you have to focus a little more on school rather than yourself and that is completely normal. More often than not, especially during midterms or finals, self-care may seem like the last thing on your to-do list. Here are 15 self-care ideas that you can do to make time for yourself and still be successful during a busy semester!
- 10 Minute Yoga
After asking some fellow HC Pitt writers, a popular answer was taking some time out of their day to do a quick yoga or meditation video. Most people find them on Youtube. Taking some time to decompress your body can ensure that you are more relaxed and well prepared for whatever work lies ahead.
- Read A chapter of a book
While reading may seem like a more involved task, reading a chapter at a time can be a great way to take some time for yourself during a busy week. You can even use reading as a reward for studying a certain amount of content. If you want to get into reading, having a schedule like this can help prioritize reading in your life. If you have trouble putting a book down, incentivizing yourself with a chapter can be a great way to focus and get work done while also maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
- Take a walk outside
Sometimes getting some fresh air can be the best medicine. Taking 10 or even 15 minutes to walk around the block can force you to get some activity in while also being with your thoughts. If you prefer to walk in groups, then taking leisurely walks can be a great way to connect and make time for social interactions during the week.
- start a new tv show
While this can be dangerous for some people, starting a new show can allow you to budget more time for yourself. Some weeks this may be easier to accomplish than others but, similar to reading a book, being on a schedule with a tv show can allow you to watch it when appropriate.
- get some exercise
If you are looking for an outlet for some larger emotions like anxiety, anger, confusion or pain, some more rigorous exercise may be just the thing you need to expel the extra energy. This can come in all variations depending on the type of exercise you are into! Even a quick 30-minute workout can take some stress off your shoulders.
- try a new recipe
Experimenting in the kitchen can be a little time-consuming, so I would advise pursuing this during a mildly busy week. However, creating or baking in the kitchen can be a lot of fun, regardless of whether or not you are in the company of friends or a partner. And if you do have company, a healthy flour fight never hurt anyone!
- invest in new hobbies
Self-care is the best time to invest in yourself. Think about anytime that you may have seen something in passing and thought, “Wow I wish I had the time to do that”. Next time that you come across something like that, jot it down in the notes app on your phone so the next time you want to practice self-care you can start something new! Who knows it could become your next passion!
- create a new playlist
Making a happy or motivating playlist in your spare time can be both productive and fun! You can collaborate with friends to make the ultimate playlist and listen to it while studying as well. If you enjoy music, this can be a great outlet!
Journaling can get a bad wrap from those who have never tried it. There are a lot of preconceived notions that journaling needs to happen one specific way, but that’s the farthest from the truth. The beauty of journaling is that it can be whatever you want it to be. You can make lists, write a reflective paragraph or even draw a picture. It is your own outlet to use however you want! Getting your feelings out on paper can free up space in your mind and allow you to recharge and refocus!
- create a stress-free zone
This can be as small as making sure to keep homework and stress out of your room. Keeping a space in your home free of stress can allow you to take a few minutes to escape all of the noise, especially during exam season. You can invest in things like essential oil diffusers, candles or even some calming lights to change the mood in your designated space and allow some much-needed relaxation.
- unplug from technology
Taking an hour away from your phone or any other technology every day is important for both self-care and routine management. You can use this space to pursue any other hobbies that you may have or even take some time completely alone in your room. Separating yourself from technology can allow you to process your thoughts and relax before getting into more studying or assignments.
- treat yourself to a new experience
Many people believe that seeing new things or having new experiences must take a whole day or at least most of it. Depending on what experiences you choose to pursue, a small 30-minute excursion can be all you need to reset your mind and start fresh for your next assignment. My go-to is trying new coffee shops around Pittsburgh. Most are a quick drive or walk away and I am able to experience a new place while making time to enjoy a quick coffee or hot beverage before resuming studying.
- practice positive self talk
This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. A great way to start is to compile some positive quotes or photos to refer to whenever you need some time away. This can be in various forms like newspaper clippings, images on Pinterest, images of with a friend or even just speaking aloud to yourself. It may seem a little unconventional, but positive affirmations can ground you and encourage a few minutes of self-love and appreciation.
- go to a new study space
Having a change of environment can help mitigate stress levels and also allow you to experience new things and people. This idea can be combined with idea number 12 as well!
- treat yourself to a face mask
Saving the most stereotypical act of self-care for last! Although this is a common way for people to unwind, it is very relaxing and allows for multi-tasking and a cool down (literally). This can be coupled with a good book or a tv show/movie. You are also able to both relax and do some skincare!
As mentioned before, self-care is what you make of it and it is always up to your own interpretation. Feel free to use some of these ideas as a starting point, but remember to invest in yourself and take the time to recognize your other interests. School is important but in order to see the whole puzzle of who you are, it’s essential to take some time to cater to yourself and your needs.