COLUMN: Caring for yourself on a college schedule

At its most basic level, self-care is paying attention to yourself.

As young adults in a society that glorifies working yourself into the ground for the sake of a career, making some time to take a breath and remember your own worth is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

It can be hard to force yourself to take a moment and focus on your physical and mental wellbeing, especially with finals creeping up and the summer internship or post-grad job search in full swing. But self-care is more than worth your time.

Self-care is often misconstrued as self-indulgence, such as in the popular “treat yo self” meme. Sometimes treating yourself can be a healthy side of self-care, whether that’s making a purchase you’ve been thinking about for a long time, or just letting yourself not be guilty about eating those cookies you’ve been craving.

But self-care is also making the time to exercise or actually cook a healthy meal when all you want to do after a long day is lie in bed. It’s important to know what is best for you in a particular moment. In this way, self-care is a great tool to get to know yourself better, which is always a good thing. 

If you’re feeling dragged down under a tide of work at the end of the semester, it might seem impossible to find a spare moment. Whether it’s taking small breaks during a study session or spending 10 fewer minutes scrolling through social media, I promise you can find time in the day for self-care.

Quick ways to care for yourself

  1. When you feel overwhelmed: Set a timer for few minutes of a break from whatever you’re doing and just sit. Don’t look at your phone or your laptop or try to do anything productive, just focus on your breathing. Try to relax any tension you might be holding in your muscles. You might not even notice that your shoulders are hunched or that your brow is furrowed. Look up a quick yoga video to do if you’re feeling ambitious.
  2. When you feel stressed about your space: Spend some time cleaning a few key areas of your home. Pick all of your clothes off the floor from when you were frantically trying on outfits in the morning. Wash all of the dishes in the sink. Actually sweep up the dust bunnies from that corner of the floor you often notice but never do anything about. Light a candle that smells good to you, and let the light in by opening the curtains.
  3. When you’re down on yourself: Do a physical reset. It’s amazing how much good just a shower can do. Get squeaky clean, then do your full body and skincare routine — that means fully moisturized, oiled, scrubbed and polished. If you don’t have a routine, make one.
  4. Bonus: say, out loud, three things you like about yourself.

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