How to Prioritize Self-Care as a Full-time Student

I’ve always known that taking care of oneself is important, but since coming to college, I have realized that despite the fact that it is important, sometimes it can be difficult to put into action.

Developing good habits over the summer is arguably easier to do so since students have more free time when class isn’t in session. Once class starts, time management becomes a crucial tool, and it doesn’t come naturally to all of us. Like me, for example.

Coming into college, the number one thing I was told was that time management was perhaps the most difficult part of the transition from high school to college, but I always shrugged it off. Turns out, it’s true, at least it was for me. Time management was the most difficult thing for me to develop as a freshman, and improving it has done me well.

Time management allows students to balance their social lives, academics, extracurriculars, and often jobs. But where does your mental and physical health fit in? It doesn't, unless you make it happen.

Whether you want to stick to a relaxing night routine, take a fitness class, read, journal, or spend time with friends, there are a few things you can do to implement new activities into your schedule, and improve your self care habits.

 

Start small, gradually increase, and repeat.

If you start your self care journey with something small like increasing your time being active by five minutes each day, you can start with zero active minutes, and increase to 35 minutes by the end of one week.

Hold yourself accountable with a reward

You could do this daily, weekly, or monthly. Either way, if you need a little extra motivation to begin, a small reward like an extra trip to Starbucks, a few more minutes of Netflix watching, or even just checking off that you completed the activity for that day can help. Although, the self-care habits will likely become the reward itself. It should be enjoyable to take care of yourself.

 

Do things you enjoy

Self-care should not be something you feel only obligated to do, it should be something you want to do. The self-care habits you implement can vary in size. I have a variety of things I’ve been trying to do throughout each day, and it all starts when I wake up in the morning.

 

Routines

I start by turning off my alarm, which has been set for between 8 and 9 am every morning. After that, I stay off my phone other than to play music. I open the blinds and let some light in, look up to the sky and take a few mindful deep breaths. I take out my journal and a pen to track my anxiety from the previous day, and write about anything that is on my mind. One would think that it would be a struggle to collect your thoughts after just waking up, but in my experience, it’s pretty easy, and helpful to maintain calm. I make sure to also drink water during the first ten minutes of waking up.

Some of these habits, like mindful deep breathing and anxiety tracking, are new to me but I have always made my bed. It makes me feel like I’ve started my day on a good foot, since I have completed one productive thing. After brushing teeth, I will either get dressed, or most often lately, I have been keeping my pj’s on until I absolutely have to change.

I have been trying to incorporate some time to stretch into my morning routine as well, but if I don’t have the time, I will turn on some jams and dance for a few minutes to get hyped up for the rest of the day.

I make breakfast, whether it be eggs, toast, a mango, or just some cereal. I think that eating enough is crucial to energy levels, and therefore, taking care of oneself.

For the rest of the day, I incorporate things like listening to podcasts, spending more time with my friends than on my phone, being mindful, making time to exercise, and not procrastinating. These things not only improve my health, but they make each day more enjoyable. And you can find things you enjoy too, and that benefit your mental and physical well-being.