Self-Care that Isn't Optional

I’m approaching 20 years old and that fact is absolutely blowing my mind. It’s strange to think about all of the things that could happen in my 20s, all of the new responsibilities that I’ll take on and the different things I’ll be exposed to. While these huge unknowns are really exciting, they are also intimidating and overwhelming. One thing that is particularly difficult to figure out is prioritizing time for general self-care in the midst of social and professional commitments. I’ve determined that the following are necessary acts of self-care in order to thrive at this whole ~adulting~ thing. This won’t be an article where I preach about the curative powers of face masks and essential oils because, frankly, I rarely have time for that stuff. It’s about little things that tend to fall to the wayside when things get busy. Establishing a routine with these things will actually calm your hectic life.   

Taking Your Medicine

I was extremely guilty of being inconsistent with taking and filling my prescriptions. If I started to feel better within two days of a five-day antibiotic, I probably stopped taking it. Either that or my mornings would be hectic and I’d forget. Or I was so tired I forgot to take it before bed. Clearly, there are lots of excuses for not taking your meds. This is so detrimental though! Dosages are specifically regulated intentionally and taking medicines irregularly can be worthless or even harmful.

Birth Control is one medicine I’ll focus on specifically. I’m not sexually active, and a lot of my friends aren’t, but we still take birth control. Obviously, birth control is extremely important when you are sexually active, but even if you aren’t, there are so many benefits. For me, it has regulated my period, helped with cramps and stabilized my mood. However… it only started helping when I got my sh!t together and stopped skipping days. For a while, I was inconsistent about taking it because I knew I wasn’t using it to… control birth. However, my period was irregular, I was moody and I wasn’t seeking any benefits from this miracle pill.     

    Some simple ways to improve your regularity with medicine are

  • setting alarms
  • putting pills next to your bed or by your toothbrush
  • writing yourself post-its

    These are just little tips, but once you get into a regular system, it really will become second nature. ALWAYS TAKE YOUR MEDS!

General Hygiene

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE dry shampoo. LOVE IT! However, dry shampoo does not combat general funkiness. Sometimes 30 minutes of sleep will win, but it needs to be a rarity. You need to be showering and bathing frequently. Now the frequency that you’ll wash your hair does vary from person to person, but you should be washing your body every day. Take at least 5 minutes to do this at the end of your day and use it as some time to de-stress. You should never be stressing, thinking “do I smell?” This is such an easy part of your routine, and it seems pretty obvious, but if it isn’t, I really recommend it. Also, the people you share a dorm/apartment/house with will thank you.


Drink water. I am not saying get yourself a $100 water bottle and chop up fruit and record your water intake. None of that. If you want to do that, great! That extra stuff can be awesome when you have time, but if you are on the run it is so easy to forget to keep yourself hydrated. If you have your water bottle on you, there isn’t really an excuse for not drinking it. It’s easy to run into a convenience store and grab an iced coffee instead of water, but it’s cheaper and better for the environment for you to keep water on you.

Along these lines is managing your caffeine intake. It is SO easy to fall into this trap of becoming dependent on caffeine for your energy, but it can quickly become a habit as opposed to something that just gives you a little boost. Caffeine isn’t always great for your health, so I’d recommend staying aware of what you are putting into your body and how frequently. I’m not saying you can’t have your morning coffee. But maybe one cup instead of three. And when you are drinking coffee, make sure you are drinking at least one cup of water.


One of the worst phenomena of adulthood is how you always seem to get sick right when you approach a super busy week. This could be related to stress or seasonal factors, but regardless of the cause, it is time to figure out your personal solution. I have my favorite cough drop brand, tea and over-the-counter meds on hand at all times. If I start to feel something creep up on me, I start a regimen right then. 

Make sure to go to the doctor when you need to go to the doctor. I am still working on this. I hate the hassle of the doctor and the cost. However, waiting to go to the doctor means you are sicker longer. Your mom only knows so much, unfortunately. Plus, the health center is free.


I hate doing my laundry. Who doesn’t? Laundry takes so much time and it is especially horrible in a dorm. But what is worse than a week’s worth of laundry? Two week’s worth. Three week’s worth. The more you put off doing your laundry, the worse it will be. Pick a specific time that you are dedicated to doing your laundry every week. Get something else done while it’s in the machine. It’s not gonna ever be fun, but it will be less awful if you aren’t hauling a back-breaking amount of smelly clothes past hot boys with hangovers on a Sunday morning.

Another really important laundry point is the frequency that you should wash your sheets and towels. Gross anecdote: a girl my freshman year threw up in her bed and her roommate let her use her extra sheets for the night. She didn’t get them back until the end of the semester because the girl literally didn’t change her sheets. Don’t be that girl. Wash your sheets at least once every two weeks. In theory, towels are supposed to be washed after around 3 uses, but I think this is unrealistic. I’ve found that it is best just to wash everything weekly. If you have time to wash your towels that frequently, be my guest. I do not though, and I think you will be okay if you don’t either.


After a really busy week, my room can look like a tornado rolled through. I’ve gotten a lot cleaner since I’ve come to college, but when I am overwhelmed, I resort to leaving my stuff in random places and throwing my clothes wherever I feel. It is definitely favorable to clean up along the way, but at the very least, spend time at the end of the week tidying up so you can start your week fresh. I like to clean while I do my laundry. Even though I do major cleaning once a week, I really try to keep my room somewhat presentable. You never know when you are going to want to have people over. That is one of the perks of adulthood, but you have to be prepared for it. 

Being an adult is hard. Being a smelly, dehydrated and sickly adult is harder. Establish a routine and take some of the difficulty out of your life!