I Took a *Real* Self-Care Weekend, and This is How I Felt

It seems like everyone and their mother is on the “self-care” bandwagon these days. If you look up self-care on Instagram, there are 20.5 million posts ranging from pictures of extravagant nails and expensive clothes to lavish vacations to face masks and hair masks or bouquets of flowers.

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Self-care is made out to be this cute and trendy thing on social media, but when it’s stripped down to its bare bones, it should not be “self-care” but taking care of yourself. This isn’t to say that all of the aforementioned things aren’t considered taking care of yourself, it’s just that in addition to all of that Instagrammable self-care we, or at least I,forget to do the basics things need.

This Friday night, the clock struck 10:30 p.m., and I was asleep. You read that right. She is 21 years old, and instead of living it up on the town, she was asleep. Ever since the semester started up in August, I have been running on a constant five or fewer hours of sleep almost every night. After work and class and every event that I shoved into my schedule (I’m still working on easing off of the whole “hustle culture” mentality, okay?), the hours in the day never seemed like enough. 

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I would find myself staying up late and getting up early just to feel like I had more time, and it finally caught up to me. I was exhausted and felt terrible!On top of poor sleeping habits, I was overworking myself, had the worst eating habits and honestly, I was really unhappy. It wasn’t enough to have my hair done or nails painted, I needed to go back to the roots, to the very basics of self-care, to feel better.

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So, I spaced out my homework, wrote down the things I absolutely had to get done in my planner, and left the rest of the weekend up to whatever I wanted to do. It seems really basic when I write it out here, but let me tell you, actually taking care of myself made all the difference. As someone who typically treats the weekend like 9-5 homework days and stresses a lot, this weekend was a game-changer.

I spent a few hours designing and listening to podcasts, I worked out a little, I cooked up the foods that I had been craving but had been too tired or not had enough time to make, and while I still did not drink enough water(is it time for me to get a Hydro Flask?) taking a few days to do these things set a precedent for my weekends. Plus, I feel ready for the week rather than feeling the Sunday scaries over my already present exhaustion.

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Ultimately, it is so important to not neglect taking care of yourself throughout the semester. Attending university comes with a lot of responsibilities, but neglecting sleep or eating poorly is not going to help you make it any better. I know this is common knowledge, but then again, is it really? It’s easy to fall into this routine where “self-care” is just nail polish and expensive “you deserve it” purchases.At the heart of it all, if you as a person are fundamentally unwell, then that version of self-care won’t cut it.

So, if you’re reading this, take a break if you can. Spread your work out, do something fun, go outside for a second, go to sleep early. Whatever you do, just take care of yourself. You’re the only you there is.