College is characterized and associated with many wonderful experiences. When reminiscing or talking about college life in general, most agree that it’s a wonderful time for growth and self-discovery, but just like everything else, college also has its negative aspects.
College students are a peculiar combination of odd sleeping patterns, caffeinated/energy drinks, questionable diets, and stress. Balancing heavy workloads, responsibilities, and a social life can often be hectic and lead to bad habits and coping methods.Even without heavy workloads and hectic lives, it’s fairly common to feel stress.
Stress in small doses is not really harmful. However, when stress becomes a constant, it manifests itself in bad side effects and can very often lead to or forget to put yourself first.
It shows in our eating habits. It’s there with every skipped meal, every forgotten snack or drink, because “I have to finish this first” or “I’ll get to it once I’m done”.
Sometimes, it’s not even a physical issue. Sometimes, it goes straight to your mental health. Stress can bring down our moods, productivity, and cloud our outlook so much that we forget to find time for ourselves.
How do we cope? How do we manage?
Put ourselves first.
Scientific research has dedicated a lot of time to find how stress affects us and what we can do to deal with it and lessen its impact on us. Here are some manageable self-care tips to help you deal with stress.
1. Go outside.
I know. I know. This line is overused and sounds tacky. However, a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology has found that it actually helps! In a study done with five different experiments in which the subjects had to do activities outside in order to later compare their moods and work efficiency showed that there might be a positive impact in being outdoors or in natural settings.
Research has shown that there are positive side-effects to cuddling. There were noticeable signs amongst all age groups. Premature babies gained weight and were happier overall. Adults solved math problems more efficiently after receiving massages. Children showed fewer signs of anxiety, etc. Besides all the positive side effects, who doesn’t like to cuddle?
It might not be the most polite alternative, but it sure is fun! Swearing is known to decrease stress levels, improve confidence levels, and even grant us a feeling of being more in control. And if it gets monotonous? Get creative with it and use old swear words and goofy combinations!
4. Spread kindness.
Whether it’s through volunteer work, or by spreading random acts of kindness, being kind promotes positive feelings towards oneself. A study that followed groups of volunteers and reviewed their emotional and mental health saw that, through social interactions, volunteer work lowers depression levels in elderly groups Additionally, studies have shown that volunteer work promotes psychological well-being in those who participate.
5. Be fair to yourself.
If there is one universal truth, it is that we as individuals are our harshest critics. When it comes to self-love, the most important lesson is to be fair to yourself. You will not grow if you don’t allow yourself to. You will not heal if you do not give yourself time. You will not love yourself until you teach yourself to.
I’m not saying it’s an easy lesson, nor am I saying that it’s a quick one.
Start off by taking baby steps.
Leave positive notes for yourself. Look at cute things. The internet is filled with a variety of happy and adorable images and videos. Who doesn’t love a silly puppy video or hilarious vine compilations by trying to find beauty in the mundane? Allow yourself to feel everything, and remind yourself that your emotions are valid. Fake your confidence until you begin to believe in it. Because it actually works!
You are valid.
Teach yourself that it’s okay to put yourself first.