Sometimes we all need a little TLC. Whether your heart was just broken, your internship isn’t turning out like you’d planned or you’ve just been feeling a little down lately, learning to love you for you can be one of the most valuable things a collegiette can do in tough times. Building self-esteem and loving yourself more aren’t easy, but we have some tips that will help.
1. Release your inner yogi
Yoga is the perfect activity for a collegiette to feel great about her mind and body! The combination of challenging physical poses paired with breathing and (sometimes) meditation can make you look great and feel great. Check out some yoga classes near you with YogaFinder, a search engine for yoga classes!
The first step to loving yourself is taking the time to concentrate your efforts on yourself, not other people. Although you could do yoga classes with friends, try taking one alone to carve some “me-time” out of your busy day.
“I’ve done Bikram yoga, an extremely challenging form of hot yoga that forces me to concentrate on my own body and thoughts and not anyone else’s presence in the room,” says Lin, a sophomore at Rutgers University.
So get in that downward dog, collegiettes—your positive attitude will thank you later.
2. Pump up your endorphins
While yoga helps cultivate positive thinking, endorphins are a different way of making you happy through exercise. Get your blood pumping and feel good about yourself with an intense cardio workout! Try one of these awesome workouts.
Whether you’re crazy for spinning or you just want to do a jog around the block, you can be sure that Elle Woods’ advice holds true. A study conducted at Penn State University found that “more physically active people reported greater general feelings of excitement and enthusiasm, compared with the less physically active people.” Take care of your body and your mind, collegiettes—give yourself those excited feelings with some exercise!
“As much as I love sleeping in, waking up a little earlier in the morning to go run or do yoga outside (especially when it’s nice out!) is a great way to start my day,” says Kasia, a senior at Villanova University. “It allows me to have that ‘me’ time again, and everything is usually quiet and calm. And afterwards, I have a healthy breakfast and take a long shower. It’s such a nice start to my day, and then I feel happy and productive all day long!”
Iris, a junior at University of California, Los Angeles, loves a different kind of cardio: “ZUMBA! The combination of dancing, South American music, group exercise and working up a sweat is one of my favorite ways of feeling better about myself and in general,” she says. “I always come out of Zumba class with a huge grin and ready to take on the world! Also, just exercising in general improves my self-esteem, because it’s an achievement—however small.”
3. Make something delicious
Love the fuel you put in your body! Try some yummy, nutritious recipes that will be fun to make and scrumptious to eat. Whether you’re feeling like making amazing popsicles or some skinny desserts, cooking by yourself can be therapeutic and make you feel great about your awesome skills in the kitchen.
Make sure that you’re not just ingesting junk to make yourself feel better, though. Dr. Roy Stefanik, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University, says that learning to be happier can be improved with good nutrition.
“Avoiding junk food and focusing on eating healthy improves your mood and body,” he says. “Avoid the bowl of Lucky Charms in the morning and switch it out, say to Greek yogurt.”
Try making your own healthy snacks—it will make your mind and body feel good!
“I love baking when I’m stressed because measuring everything out and following the steps calms me down and allows me to reflect on my day and myself,” says Sophie, a senior at Middlebury College. “Plus, you get to eat whatever you make, which always makes me feel better about myself!”
4. Remember the things you’re thankful for
Taking stock of what makes you happy emphasizes the good things in life. Try Elizabeth Gilbert’s “happiness jar” project: decorate a mason jar, and every day, think of one thing that makes you happy. Write it down on a slip of paper, fold up the paper and put it in the jar. Whenever you feel like you need a pick-me-up, pull out some of the memories. Projects like this remind us that even the small things can make us happy! Even just making a list of five things that you’re thankful for—or five things you love about yourself—every so often can help boost your mood and remind you why it’s great to be you. In particular, think about writing down moments where you were proud of yourself or even days when you felt especially fabulous.
According to psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, “the research clearly demonstrates that you would be happier if you cultivated an ‘attitude of gratitude.’”
“I write motivational messages on my mirror in dry-erase markers,” says Cara, a senior at University of Florida. Cara says she writes things like, “‘You’re beautiful’ when I’m feeling self-conscious, or, ‘You’re gonna kill it’ for exams.” Supporting yourself like this reminds you that you have many good qualities for which you should be thankful!
5. Write a letter
Are your friends scattered in different places this summer? Do you have family members you haven’t seen in a while? Nothing allows for more thought and reflection than writing a letter. In this age of texting and email, it can be difficult to feel letters are necessary, but, if you want to unplug and also make someone’s day with snail mail, a letter can be the perfect way to let someone know that you’ve been thinking about him or her! You’ll feel better after some self-reflection, too. You can even write yourself a letter. Gel pens and cute stationery are always fun, too.
Dr. Stefanik suggests acknowledging and being thankful for the people in your life. “Let other people know just how much you appreciate them and thank them for it,” he says. “Seeing others respond to your kindness has a positive effect on you, too!”
Ingrid, a junior at Boston College, does just this. “I love writing letters because it is a time to reflect and a time to connect,” she says. “I write weekly to my uncle, and it is amazing to look back on the week and remember the best parts! It’s even more exciting to hear about his week and feel close to him, despite physical distance.”
Ingrid says writing letters makes her love herself more because “even in the midst of a crazy, frustrating week, I can still fill pages with what’s been happening in my life and inquiries directed at the other person! I love that letters keep us connected!”
6. Get lost in a book
Reading is a great way to stay sharp over the summer; if you keep reading over the break, you won’t be ambushed by the amount you have to read during the school year (well, maybe). Whether you’re in the mood for John Green or Jane Austen, reading is an awesome way to unplug from the world and expand your knowledge! So lay out a towel in your backyard, grab a glass of iced tea and let yourself be swept away in a book this summer.
“Whenever I’m feeling down about myself, I always turn to a good book, whether it’s an old favorite or something new,” says Aja, a junior at Cal Poly. “Reading distracts me from whatever is bothering me. Plus, unlike Netflix, it makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile with my time!”
In fact, according to a study done at The New School for Social Research in New York, reading fiction “enhances the ability to detect and understand other people’s emotions, a crucial skill in navigating complex social relationships.” How does this help you? If you’re able to understand other people better, you’ll be able to understand their problems, making you a better friend.
7. Create something beautiful
Whether you love Pinterest or good, old-fashioned glue and puffy paint, crafting a compilation or collage of inspiring messages, people and places can put any collegiette in a good mood and remind her of her goal.
Iris also loves to create. “I find that creating anything is also a great way to feel good about myself,” she says. “I love to craft and paint my nails, so when I paint a picture frame for one of my sorority sisters or create a really cool mani, it makes me feel proud and accomplished. It may be silly, but it’s an easy way to boost my self-esteem, knowing that I’m capable of creating things.”
If you’re at a loss for ideas of what to create, look at these cute DIY dorm décor ideas.
8. Unplug your technology
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by school, try unplugging yourself from the Internet, whether it’s for an hour or an entire day.
Lin loves to go places in New York City without her cell phone. “Unplugging from social media also reminds me that real-world experiences and memories don’t have to be photographed, filtered and captioned with a clever phrase. Instead, they can be enjoyed in the moment where no one decides how you much fun you have except yourself,” she says.
Kasia loves to unplug when she gets pedicures. “It’s a nice way to unwind for an hour and just have some alone ‘me’ time,” she says. “Plus, I feel pretty and pampered afterwards!”
Take this time to spend more time on yourself, collegiettes—choosing to take a power nap or touch up your manicure in those 20 minutes you would use checking social media might make you feel better in the long run!
9. Don’t be afraid to take a break
Recognize when you need a break—you deserve it! Allow yourself to buy the bracelet you’ve been eyeing for months, splurge on a relaxing pedicure or just eat the ice cream you’ve been trying to avoid lately.
Dr. Jim Manganiello, a clinical psychologist, says that we need to “establish as a default position within ourselves a commitment to treat ourselves with friendship and generosity.”
“One thing I’ve always done is go to places by myself and enjoy nature, art and food in my own space,” Lin says.
Sophie says she likes to have little pamper sessions when she’s feeling burnt out or stressed. “I’ll take a long, hot shower; use a face mask; paint my nails and toes; light some candles and sip some tea while I watch reruns of Gossip Girl,” she says. “Taking time out of my day to focus on pampering myself makes me remember that I’m worth it!”
Collegiettes, treat yourself like you would treat a friend—give her a break! Remember, you’re worth the time and effort.