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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

What do you think of when you hear “self-care”? Maybe you think of Instagram-perfect bubble baths, the smell of essential oils or soothing piano music. That’s what I used to picture. And if this is what’s relaxing for you, that’s great! But we shouldn’t let a cultural expectation of the ideal “self-care Saturday” prevent us from doing what’s best for our own physical, mental and emotional health. 

Self-care encompasses far more than eating chocolate or lighting a lavender candle. Self-care includes taking care of our responsibilities, cleaning our physical space, and even budgeting to ensure we’re financially secure. 

Building your self-care toolkit means letting go of the pressure to have a Pinterest-worthy self-care session, and looking inside yourself to see what you need. Because our needs vary from moment to moment, there are many different ways to practice self-care! 

Academic self-care 

Maybe you’re overwhelmed with homework and upcoming exams. If this is stressing you out, self-care may mean creating up a study calendar for yourself, blocking out time in your calendar, or finding a study group so you can tackle tough concepts together. Anything that helps you feel competent and confident in your academics is an act of self-care! 

Professional self-care 
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Have you been working hard, gaining valuable experiences, and learning new skills, but haven’t celebrated yourself? Maybe it’s time for a resume and LinkedIn update! This can be a great way to pat yourself on the back and remind yourself of how far you’ve come. 

Social self-care 

Has it been a while since you’ve gone out with friends, had a good laugh, or spent quality one-on-one time with a bestie or your significant other? Schedule a time to meet up and do something you all enjoy, whether that’s eating out, going to the park, exploring a shopping center, or trying an escape room! 

Financial self-care 
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Usually, we view budgeting as a “have to.” But, I firmly believe this can be an act of self-care. We deserve to spend our money on things we need or enjoy. Looking over your own spending and freeing yourself from expectations is liberating. For example, if you feel pressure to buy trendy clothes, but you would rather take a whirlwind vacation, reallocate that money towards saving for your dream trip! On the other hand, maybe people say you spend too much eating out, but you find you’d rather try the best eats in town than go on costly trips. 

Emotional and spiritual self-care 

Journaling your feelings, talking with a trusted friend, looking at old photos, and sketching out your dreams for the next years of your life can be great ways to tap into your emotions. It’s natural to want to drown out negative emotions like depression, anxiety, anger or frustration with a busy lifestyle or distractions, but you deserve the peace that comes from feeling and acknowledging those emotions, talking to someone you trust (a family member, a friend or a therapist/counselor), and finding constructive ways to move forward in your life. 

You can also practice your religion or spirituality if you identify this way. Self-care can mean taking a break from the hustle and bustle of busy 21st century life and exploring your most important values. 

It’s understandable to want to stay efficient and busy when our culture prizes productivity. We already struggle with guilt for not being “productive” enough, so let’s not also guilt ourselves for the way we practice self-care. Sometimes self-care is taking a bubble bath, but sometimes it means cleaning the home, revamping your financial plan, seeing a therapist or something else; this list just offers a few ways to practice self-care. Your self-care should serve you, not your camera, and should be true to your needs.

I'm a proud Knight who graduated summa cum laude in Spring of 2023, with a bachelor's of science in communication sciences and disorders, minor in psychology, human resources certificate, and leadership studies certificate. In undergrad I volunteered at UCF Aphasia House's program Aphasia Family to facilitate a community group for adult stroke survivors with aphasia, an acquired communication disorder. I also worked at the UCF Aphasia and Related Conditions (ARC) Research Lab and at the ASD Adult Achievement Center during college. Building meaningful connections with others through all forms of communication (the spoken word, prose and poetry, music, art, and theater) is my passion. My articles on Her Campus focus on mental health and self-care, minimalism, and using personality assessments (like MBTI and enneagram) to foster a deeper understanding of others and yourself. Currently I am taking a gap semester and plan to return for my master's degree in 2024.