What is Self-Care?
You’ve probably heard the term “self-care” used quite a bit over the past few years. It became a common topic during the pandemic as we all dealt with the new stresses of quarantine. However, even as the world reopens, self-care remains an important topic. We need to take care of ourselves to stay healthy and happy.
Self-care is the practice of promoting health and happiness in your life. What that means to you is probably different than what it means to another person. For example, you might value splurging on an overpriced coffee while your coworker might enjoy getting their hair done. You may practice self-care by doing yoga while they spend a night watching their favorite movies. Indeed, there is no one right way of taking care of yourself. Rather any practices that reduce stress, improve your health, and boost your mood are self-care.
Additionally, there are different kinds of self-care. Professional, social, and physical care all matter equally. However, how you practice them will change with each type. You may take care of your social needs by putting chores away for one night to hang out with your best friend. On the other hand, you could practice professional self-care by scheduling quiet hours at your job.
Regardless of how you do it, self-care is important. Keep reading to learn why.
Why it Matters
Self-care does more than just improve your day. Rather, quality self-care reduces stress, improves health, and helps manage preexisting illnesses. Notably, living with high levels of stress affects your immune system. You’re more likely to get sick and face serious health conditions. Additionally, you’re more likely to engage in other unhealthy and even dangerous activities.
Self-care often encourages healthy eating and exercise habits in addition to treats. The combination results in an overall healthier life. Also, there is a focus on sustainable living.
For example, if you have a chronic illness and push too hard, you can worsen your condition or find yourself in a flare-up. The same can be said for mental health. Having off days and rewarding yourself for your hard work is vital for your wellness.
Consider how you may be more prone to overspend or binge when you haven’t treated yourself for a while. Quality self-care means taking care of your needs and wants.
Practicing Self-Care as a Student
As we mentioned, there are multiple types of self-care. When you’re a student, you may deal with many responsibilities. For example, many students hold jobs and care for their families while attending school. Practicing self-care matters even if you’re only taking care of yourself and your schoolwork.
College can be stressful. You must worry about constant deadlines, intensive assignments, studying, and reading countless pages. Indeed, getting burnt out is easy, especially if you don’t take a summer break.
Burnout in school can mean poorer grades, skipping assignments and classes, and dropping out. Thus, practicing self-care is vital to success.
So, how do you get started if you’re new to self-care?
10 Tips on How to Practice Self-Care
As we mentioned, there is no right way to practice self-care. However, there are a couple of key areas you can focus on.
1. Create a Schedule
One of the biggest causes of stress in college is procrastination. You don’t want to study for the big exam or write your paper, so you get to it the night before it’s due. Then, you spend countless hours cramming or creating an essay that barely meets the standards. You’re more likely to receive poorer grades when waiting until the last second. As a result, you’re even more stressed out about future assignments.
Instead, create (and stick to) a weekly schedule for your assignments. Keep an eye on upcoming tasks and plan ahead. Whether you prefer to write your essay in one night or take care of it in chunks, set aside enough time to do the work.
Additionally, plan for backup time. Anything could come up. Your child could catch a stomach bug, your friends could invite you out, or you may need a mental health day. In the end, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy yourself and do your work. You won’t stress as much when you’re not waiting until the last second.
2. Take Care of Your Needs
Commonly, overworked students will skip food and sleep to stay on track. Make sure you’re hydrating, eating, and getting enough rest. Indeed, scheduling your work time will help you stay on track with your needs.
Additionally, make sure to stock up on snacks and drinks. That way, you won’t realize halfway through a study session that you need to hit the dining hall. You can also split the cost of a pizza with your study group. Getting enough food is vital to success in college. Indeed, you won’t do your best work if you’re just thinking about hamburgers while writing your essays.
Similarly, many college students do not get enough sleep. It can be difficult to find time, especially during midterms and finals week. While getting your full eight hours is important, you can make up for lost time with naps. Just make sure to set your alarm so you don’t miss class.
3. Move as Much as Your Body Allows
Exercise improves both your mental and physical health. However, college can encourage long periods of sitting or lying around. Thus, get out and about as much as you can. You can go for a run, do yoga, or just get outside to enjoy nature.
Basically, get away from the computer screens and whiteboards as often as possible. Fresh air can improve creativity and reduce stress. Thus, both you and your homework will benefit.
4. Ask for Help
Self-care can be as simple as working up the courage to ask for help. You can ask for an extension or seek mental health services.
As we’ve mentioned, college can be a stressful time. Studies show that up to three-quarters of students across the United States experience “moderate or serious psychological distress” in college. Many factors can cause these numbers. Notably, the referenced study comes from fall of 2021, when the pandemic was at its peak. However, times remain hard, and something can always come up in any of our lives.
Thus, always ask for help when you need it. Many universities offer resources. As we mentioned, you can always ask for an extension. There’s a chance your professor will say no, but that’s the worst that can happen.
5. Reward Yourself for Hard Work
Earlier, we talked about buying ourselves an overpriced cup of coffee and going to the salon. Once you finish that ten-page paper or get through your final exam, don’t be afraid to treat yourself.
Indeed, plan a budget. Part of self-care is improving your health, which includes finances. However, sometimes what we need to get through finals is our favorite doughnuts or a new game. Rewards can be a great way to encourage you to work hard and put in more effort. You’ll have all the more reason to study for that exam.
Notably, not all rewards need to rely on your success. You shouldn’t make it so every grade has to be an ‘A’ so you can have sushi night once a semester. Be realistic with your goals. Sometimes, it can be as simple as completing the work.
If you’re looking for something in-between, consider leveling your rewards. For example, if you receive a ‘C,’ you can spend $20, a ‘B’ means $35, and an ‘A’ is $50.
6. Know Your Limits
Knowing your limits in college can mean many things. It can be not taking all of your math courses in one semester. Or it may mean taking the summer off. Truly, finishing your degree slightly earlier isn’t always worth it. If your grades deteriorate every semester and you can barely finish your essays, you probably need a break.
Similarly, consider changing how you do schoolwork. Today, many colleges continue to offer online classes. Skipping the commute or early morning lectures can help improve mental health. Asynchronous courses allow you to complete work on your own time. This ideal time may be at noon or four in the morning.
Additionally, you can try a part-time semester instead of full-time. You need to verify your financial aid and funding before going part-time. Notably, some scholarships, loans, and grants require full-time status.
Some universities are fully online. If you have other responsibilities, these programs can fit your needs better than a traditional school. Thus, consider whether online classes are right for you.
7. Make Your Space Comfortable
Getting your work done can be difficult if you hate your study space. Indeed, consider how an uncomfortable seat can affect your ability to focus. You should ensure your area helps you complete your work.
Whether you work at a desk, bed, or couch, look for ways to improve it. That can mean new blankets or pillows. It may also help to decorate the area. When you enjoy being in your study space, getting into work mode is easier. Additionally, make sure your lighting and supplies are adequate. Poor lighting can cause headaches and eye strain. And lack of supplies can mean taking impromptu trips during study time.
8. Go Out With Friends
Part of the traditional college experience is partying. While you don’t need to go all out, going out with friends is good. Attend a party or event, or just do your own thing.
Notably, stress relief can look different for a lot of people. Some may enjoy dancing and loud music. Others may prefer a quiet dinner or movie. Regardless, practice social self-care and spend time with your friends and loved ones.
Planning one night of fun won’t ruin your GPA.
9. And Learn How to Say No
On the other hand, don’t burn yourself out on fun. It’s easy to overdo it, especially when college culture encourages partying. We mentioned scheduling time for schoolwork. You also need to schedule time to relax.
For some, this can mean a nice bath or shower. Or you might consider taking yourself on a picnic. Regardless, it’s good to take some alone time and recover.
Learning to say no to our friends can take effort. You don’t want to disappoint them, and you don’t want to miss out on the fun. However, going out every night adds to sleep deprivation, encourages procrastination, and ultimately harms your health.
College encourages a lot of screen time. Similarly, a great deal of our entertainment is also online. We communicate with our friends via text and social media. Devices are designed to distract us constantly. Think about how often you’ll check your notifications on your phone. You probably don’t open one app and then put it away. When you’re in school, you may feel compelled to check your grades every time you log onto a device.
Indeed, it’s always good to get away from the screen for our mental health. You can find activities that allow you to disconnect. Consider art, exercise, reading, and more. Better yet, you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy these hobbies.
You can easily find coloring books for adults in many stores. These books have complex designs for you to fill in.
Improving your self-care habits can lead to a better college experience. Not only will you find your time more enjoyable, but you’ll also find more success.
Across the United States, college students often put school first and their needs second. This attitude leads to poor health and high stress. Increased stress often leads to bad grades and lesser effort. Burnt-out students may need to retake classes and may even drop out.
Thus, if you follow even a few tips above and put effort into self-care, you’ll get more out of school.
Lakewood University offers asynchronous online programs that allow you to work when you can. Ultimately, today’s students have a lot more on their plate. Many have jobs and families to take care of. Thus, an online school can help you find time for your work.
If you’re interested in learning more, reach out to our admissions team today!