During the midst of a stressful week, it can be easy to neglect your own mental and physical health. I can definitely recall moments throughout my college years where I had sustained myself on primarily coffee and pasta for days on end, and I’m ashamed to say that I can probably count how many times I’ve been to the gym on two hands. However, I’ve recently been trying to implement some more “self care” related exercises and methods into my week to help myself from going insane while the semester wraps up, and I will gladly share my secrets with you:
1. Start your day right.
I know this sounds vague and general, but that’s kind of because it is! Everyone is different. If I asked my mom what “starting the day right” meant for her, she’d probably say getting up at the crack of dawn, drinking some green tea, and watching the news while she tackled some work. For my roommate, it’s getting up early enough to go for a run, shower, and make a whole breakfast before she goes to class. For me, it means sleeping in ten minutes longer than I should, taking a good thirty minutes to take care of my skin and do my makeup, put together an outfit that I feel good in, and drinking two (or three) cups of coffee before I run out the door. Whatever will set you off on the right foot, make sure to carve out enough time to do it before class or work.
2. Move a muscle.
I know, I know. Please don’t hate me. But, exercise is scientifically proven to make you feel better and happier. I’m not talking about signing up for a full blown spin class, but doing something will help your brain chill tf out. I usually do a ten to twenty minute yoga or pilates video at my apartment every day. These videos are awesome because there’s no equipment required, and it gets your endorphins flowing without too much effort (because, c’mon, who genuinely likes working out?) However, I do recommend trying to sneak in a gym sesh once or twice a week, even if it’s just walking on the treadmill for twenty minutes. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself.
3. Fuel your body correctly.
Listen, we all wish we could live off pizza and Chinese takeout and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, but unfortunately, reality is harsh and cruel. It’s been shown, time and time again, that the better you eat, the better you feel. As someone who has dealt with a whole myriad of food issues throughout her life, I am the last person to throw some fad diet or caloric intake goal in your face. However, I fully support a nutritious and healthy lifestyle. For example, greens are your friends! I notice my mind and my body feels so much better when I really sneak in those veggies. Try a green smoothie in the mornings: spinach, banana, frozen pineapple, and some orange juice. Super cheap and nutritious. Or, avocado toast! For lunch, I usually go with a big salad with leafy greens, cucumbers and carrots, some sort of protein (like hard boiled egg, tuna, veggie burger, or some lean poultry, like grilled chicken) hummus, tomatoes, and some tasty dressing. Finally, for dinner, when I want to opt for something a little healthier than my usual giant portion of pasta, I make a buddha bowl! You can find tons of recipes for them on Pinterest. But, even more importantly, don’t forget to treat yourself to those sugary coffees, candy bars, or bags of chips. Those things are healthy in their own way; we love what we love, and we should never deny ourselves that. Everything in moderation!
P.S. Drink your water!
4. Give yourself five minutes.
This is a tip my therapist recently gave me. Sometime throughout your day, sneak away to a bathroom or a secluded area, or if you want, save this for when you’re back at your apartment/room, and set a timer for five minutes. During that time, do something to calm yourself down. Whether that’s closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing, listening to a meditative guide on an app like Calm, or doing something for yourself, like checking up on your social media. Allowing yourself a set amount of time to do something completely and utterly for you will help give you some clarity during those crazy, stressful days.
5. Sleep more, and sleep better.
As someone who’s struggled with sleep issues her entire life, I’ll try just about anything to get a full night’s rest. Recently, my mom gifted me a super inexpensive and effective oil diffuser off Amazon, like the one here! Falling asleep to the smell of lavender or eucalyptus is super calming and relaxing. I’ve also been taking melatonin on nights where I really need a good sleep. This is the brand I’ve been using. Obviously, I’m not a doctor, and you should always talk to your physician before taking supplements, but I definitely have noticed a more positive change in my sleeping habits. Finally, for my fellow anxious people out there, the podcast Sleep With Me is geared towards us all! It’s an awesome podcast created by Drew Ackerman, an insomniac, wherein he tells “bedtime stories to help grown ups fall asleep in the dark, dark night.” Check it out on their website, or anywhere else you’d find podcasts.
6. Comfort yourself.
We all need some solace from time to time. For you, that might be calling a family or friend or loved one, and catching up for a little while. For others, that might be watching a couple episodes of your favorite show on Netflix. Or, it could mean reading a few chapters of that book you swore you were going to finish. Whatever it is, try to set aside at least thirty minutes before bed to do that thing you love. Try to plan it so that this is the last thing you do; one, it helps to get away from the computer screen or the books before you hit the hay, and two, it’s always great to end on a good note.