Between crazy classes, time-consuming extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, internships, and social commitments, it’s easy to overlook self-care when wrapped up in the college environment. Some people may need to make more of an effort than others to build in time for themselves, but the truth is that all of us need a break sometimes. We often try to convince ourselves that we can do it all–and we can, but only if we’re well-rested and mentally ready to take on the challenges that the world presents to us. Tackling too much at once without making any time for yourself is a guaranteed recipe for burnout. Nobody wants to break down in the middle of the semester because they were going too hard at the beginning and built in no time to unwind.
Whether you’re someone who struggles with moderate to severe anxiety on a regular basis or you’re just looking to de-stress during a particularly taxing week, here are some tips and tricks to help you take care of yourself this upcoming week.
1. Exercise a little bit each day.
I’ll admit that I am not a super fit, exercise-conscious person. I’d rather lounge on a picnic blanket with some unhealthy snacks and a good book than run three miles. However, even just a little bit of exercise can reduce stress and help you sleep better at night, and sleep is an extremely important crucial factor when it comes to being focused during the day and maintaining your mental health.
I have started doing just 15 to 20 minutes of exercise each day and I’ve noticed that it leaves me feeling more confident and healthy. Even if you don’t have time to go to the gym for two hours, find a couple of minutes a day to do an ab workout on your bedroom floor. Consistency is key; a little bit of exercise each afternoon is better than running on one day and then lying on your couch for three weeks before your next visit to the track.
2. Bullet journaling is the actual best.
If you enjoy writing, drawing, scrapbooking, or some combination of those activities, then bullet journaling is for you. You don’t have to be the next great novelist or artist to have a really cute bullet journal. Bullet journaling is not only a super fun hobby; it’s also a great way to practice self-care. Whether you use your bujo to keep your schedule organized (and therefore make your week seem more manageable), track your health, or simply to relax by doodling and watercolor painting on the pages, it can be an awesome way to unwind.
Check out my bullet journaling article for ideas.
3. Drink enough water.
It may seem lame or overly simplistic, but swapping out your soda for a water can make a difference in how you feel, both mentally and physically. My roommate was always on my case last semester because she thought I wasn’t drinking enough water. (She was probably right.) At her suggestion, I downloaded an app called Plant Nanny that helps you keep track of how much water you’ve consumed each day. I quickly found that I felt a lot better when I was drinking the amount of water that the app recommended based on my health, weight, and lifestyle than when I was drinking five Diet Cokes a day. (I’m at about two a day now. Hey, I’m only human, and I’m still in vacation mode.)
It may be tempting to fill your weekends and weeknights with booze and sugary drinks, but give your body a break and stick to the natural stuff sometimes.
4. Do something that is 100% for you.
Whether it’s going for a haircut, painting your nails, watching your favorite movie, or cooking your favorite meal, dedicate a couple of hours to something that you want to do. Not something that other people want you to do. Not something you need to do that feels like a chore. This should be something that you genuinely enjoy and look forward to. If you can build in a little time each day to do something nice for yourself, that’s even better. At the very least, you should be able to treat yourself for a bit on the weekends.
Even if it means you have to turn down some plans with Jenny from work or Kaylee from across the hall that you sort of, kind of felt obligated to attend but didn’t really want to–it’s okay to politely decline an invitation to something you’re not interested in if it means that you get to spend that time on self-care. Be polite about it, obviously. Don’t cancel on an event that’s been planned for months hours before it happens. But if you’re invited out to brunch by a friend and you find yourself thinking that you’d rather sleep in and make your own coffee, it’s okay to do that and see your friend some other time!
5. When you leave work, fully disconnect from work.
Yes, it can be tempting to check your work email after hours or on your days off. In our technologically dependent culture, instant information and quick response times have become the norm so you may feel pressure to be “on” all of the time. Research published in the online journal the Academy of Management Proceedings suggests that it’s common to feel stressed out during our time off because the constantly connected world makes us feel like we have to keep up even when we are off the clock.
Outside of the set hours that are laid out in your job description, you don’t need to be accessible to your employer or your co-workers. Make it clear which hours you can be reached and outside of those hours, legitimately take a break from work. Establishing the boundary between your career and your personal life will make it easier to relax when you’re
Happy Self-Care Sunday and don’t forget to treat yourself this week!