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What I Learned About Self-Care During My Freshman Year

My first year of college has been an exciting and surprising experience in several ways. I never expected to be a freshman in college during a global pandemic. This school year has been a wild adventure and through the good, bad and ugly I’ve learned many things about myself and about life as I navigate it. Out of all the advice I could give looking back on this year (and there is a book’s worth) the most important I want to share is the tips I’ve learned about taking care of myself.

1. Be Kind to Yourself

Sometimes I think that we are our own worse critics, and while that might be a cliche, there is some truth to it. In my experience, I can sometimes be harder on myself than anyone else and I put a lot of pressure and expectations on many of the things I need to do. This semester especially, I’ve learned that taking care of myself means first being kind and graceful towards myself. Putting so much pressure and being overly critical, in the end, will just create a negative relationship with yourself. To me, being kind to myself means learning to accept who I am right now, affirming that who I am is more than enough, and that failure/mistakes are okay.

1. Give Yourself Credit

The academic year is a time of stress, assignments, exams and so many other things that are piled onto the to-do list. For myself, I feel like my planner turns into a never-ending list of things I need to get done, for school and other non-academic-related things. When I did eventually cross off those items on my to-do list, I would a lot of the time just brush it off. I would think well anyone could have done that or what I did was nothing special. What I’ve learned is, do give yourself credit and don’t just brush it off. It doesn’t matter if everyone else could have done what you’ve done, what matters is that you put in the effort and you did it. Hype yourself up for all the things you accomplish and remember that who you are, is in and of itself something to be proud of and to value.

1. Find Ways to Destress that Work For You

I love doing the typical self-care nights of face masks and movies. However, I have discovered that self-care is much more than that. A big part of self-care to me is trying and finding ways to destress and take a step back from the busy and overwhelming parts of my day. The key thing is doing what is best for you, in whichever way that looks. And while it is beneficial to take a night off once and a while, I have found that implementing small things throughout the day, helps with taking care of myself long term. I try to do 3-4 small things that I can use from the start to the end of each day to destress. Some examples are: being intentional about hydration, getting some form of sunlight (whether that be opening up my blinds or sitting outside), doing something for fun and that makes me happy (even if I only have 5 minutes), and listening to music.

1. 20% is Better Than 0%

One of the biggest things that I’ve realized through navigating my first year of college is that doing a little bit of something, a task, an assignment, etc is better than nothing. Just starting something or doing what I can at the time, takes so much pressure off of me. Progress in any form is still progress and is something to celebrate. Taking a step back and realizing all the incredible things that you’re doing and working on is important, and know that your best is enough.

I thought I would end with one of my favorite quotes “We are all doing big things, just taking different sized steps” - Unknown.

Hi! I'm Elizabeth and I am a member of the class of 2024 at W&M. I plan on majoring in Geology with a minor in Marine Science. On campus I am also involved in the W&M Choir and the Marine Science Society! In my free time I love: to read, cook & bake, find new music to listen to, and spend lots of time on Pinterest!
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