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Spring Semester Self-Care Tips

As a student, I’ve always found this time of year particularly difficult. Between dealing with the weird late-winter weather patterns that occur during February and March, the last stretch of days with limited sunlight, and the ever-increasing pressure to finish the school year on a successful note and develop more plans for the future, I find it hard to motivate myself to do anything other than the bare minimum to get through classes and work. I have trouble focusing on developing healthy habits and find that the determination I had to work harder that came with January and New Year’s Resolutions is nearly gone. And after a quick Google search, it seems like I am definitely not alone; a lot of people seem to fall into this slump.

Essentially, during the (at times grueling) transition from winter to spring, I don’t practice very good self-care. The concept of self-care goes beyond just doing the minimum amount of work it takes to make sure you stay afloat; it’s doing whatever you can to preserve your mental and physical health and telling yourself that it’s okay, even necessary, to put yourself first sometimes. It’s a concept that seems easy enough to comprehend, but it’s something I (and many others) often forget. The truth is that no one can act their best as a student, employee, friend, etc., if they aren’t taking the time to take care of themselves.

So, if you find yourself in a similar spring semester slump, here are a few of my favorite (and  most effective) self-care tips that helped me get back on track:

1. Focus on developing one healthy habit at a time.

As much as we all hate to admit it, recognizing unhealthy habits (like eating nothing but frozen pizzas for dinner for a week straight or not sleeping enough) is so much easier than actually breaking them. My advice is to focus your energy on improving one healthy habit at a time. For example, for the first few weeks of March try just focusing on drinking enough water by downloading a water tracking app (I personally recommend Plant Nanny). Focusing your energy on making small, lasting changes is much less overwhelming (and probably more effective) than trying to change everything about your daily routine at once.

2. Drink tea.

Seriously. Drink lots of tea, and lots of different kinds of tea, depending on what kind of health benefits you’re looking for. I’m not saying that a single cup of green tea in the middle of your day is going to suddenly change your mood or fix all of your problems, but it is a perfect and healthy comfort drink to have during winter months (or all year round, honestly). Though making and drinking a cup of tea is just a small part of my day, I feel good knowing that I’m making something I enjoy drinking that’s also beneficial for my health.

3. Get rid of the stuff you don’t need.

If you’re anything like me, this is the time of year where my room is cluttered with things I don’t need or want anymore from fall semester and winter break, like extra clothes, books, makeup products, etc. In my opinion, part of taking care of yourself is taking care of the space you live in as well. I find that I work and feel better in my room after I’ve taken the time to ensure that it’s only filled with items that make me happy. Also, don’t throw away the things you don’t want! Donate them to Goodwill or the Amherst Survival Center, give them to your roommate, or even sell them online.

4. Tell yourself it’s okay to not be okay.

Everyone has problems motivating themselves and keeping up with a daily routine. Self-care isn’t just remembering to drink lots of water or treating yourself once in a while–it’s also reminding yourself that it’s okay to feel discouraged or stuck, even if you can’t find an exact reason why. It’s okay to not be okay. Write this phrase down in your phone or in a notebook. Have your mom or best friend tell it to you over the phone. You can’t be okay if you don’t acknowledge that you might be having some trouble in the first place. However, if you think that your problems are more serious than just feeling a little unmotivated and discouraged during the winter months, and they don’t seem to be getting better with time and/or practicing better self-care, it might be worth talking to someone about it, like a counselor at UMass’ Center for Counseling and Psychological Health.

Don’t feel ashamed for taking the time to practice good self-care; it’s vital for your overall well-being, especially during this time of year. Good luck!

Photos: 1, 2, 3

Rachel is an English major and a Senior at UMass Amherst, a student assistant at W.E.B. Dubois Library, an expert at procrastinating and tripping over stuff, and likes dinosaurs, tea, video games, and all things sparkly.
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