College is an exciting time for many people. Some can hardly wait and spend their days anticipating the college experience. However, college life isn’t always as expected, and without the proper self-care tips, you can quickly lose yourself.
This new journey is like taking the training wheels off a bike and learning to ride. You’re taking control of life. You will spend a lot of time getting to know yourself all over again academically, personally, and professionally. You’ll also meet new people and have different experiences.
There will be great times but also not-so-good times. Learning to balance it all is essential to thrive in your new environment. Here are some self-care tips to cherish during your college years.
Why Self-Care Is Important for Students
Everyone needs self-care, but it can get obscured when inundated with responsibilities. College years come with a new outlook on life. It is a time when things can get overwhelming. The workload can easily precede your personal needs when trying to stay on top of everything.
Self-care is essential because it helps you reinforce healthier habits. These are habits that are necessary to maintain a balanced and sustainable lifestyle. It is a reminder to take care of all your needs because sometimes, even the basic needs are unknowingly ignored. Engaging in self-care and embracing this practice can help you lead a better life because it rewires how you view things.
As students, it is essential to remember that taking care of yourself isn’t going to place you behind. On the contrary, it is beneficial long-term. It helps you develop positive self-talk, which is immensely important while navigating college. It boosts your productivity, your confidence and improves your drive.
The secret to enjoying college life is self-care. This doesn’t mean you won’t encounter struggles or roadblocks, but you’ll be ready to face them better. When life gets overwhelming, you’ll have a self-care plan in place, helping you commit to prioritizing your well-being.
Self-Care Tips for Students
Start practicing self-care to better connect with yourself and others around you. Taking this initiative means saying yes to yourself, which is a step to improving your life in college and other areas.
1. Stop comparing yourself to the next student
You’ll meet many people in college, and they may have experiences that vary from yours. This can easily lead to comparisons, which can escalate into imposter syndrome.
Many college students experience imposter syndrome because this is a new environment, not short of its challenges. It is an internal battle with yourself and can make you undermine your achievements. Internalizing these negative beliefs about self can lead to mental health struggles, such as anxiety and depression.
Remember that everyone faces internal struggles, regardless of how great things seem externally. Don’t focus on what you’re lacking; instead, be grateful for where you are in life.
2. Plan your schedule based on your needs
At a certain point in your college journey, you’ll get the opportunity to choose your classes and the times at which to take those classes. Don’t schedule classes only because you want to be with your friends or a friend asked you to. Be considerate of your needs, as your schedule can help you create balance.
3. Utilize your school resources
A lot of schools offer support through counseling. Even if you don’t deem your circumstance an emergency, it helps to seek these counseling sessions early to receive the best self-care tips for mental health. These counselors frequently deal with students and will be equipped to provide you with the care you need or direct you to the proper sources.
Aside from mental health support, colleges also offer other resources to help academically and personally. These include but are not limited to career centers and tutoring services. Don’t hesitate to use these services to help you through college.
4. Find ways to sneak in physical activity
The truth is that there will be times when you’ll be so busy with schoolwork that you’ll forget to do things that are good for your health, such as exercise.
You can still care for yourself while staying on top of your schoolwork. For instance, you can listen to audio lectures while completing your workout. This is perfect for nature walks, going to the gym, or completing home workouts.
5. Decline social gatherings when you need to
Fear of missing out can develop when you meet new people and form relationships. You might think you’ll feel less connected to these new friends if you don’t attend every event. This can quickly make it overwhelming, especially when you have school responsibilities. Not studying for an exam because you chose to go out with your friends is not the best way to take care of yourself. Learning to prioritize is an excellent way to meet your self-care needs.
6. Change your studying environment
Creating healthy study habits is also part of self-care. Finding a study location that suits your needs can help motivate you to complete schoolwork. For instance, if you find your room too confining, go to a coffee shop, a library, or the student lounge. A change of environment can help improve your study habits. If you prefer studying in your room, allow sunlight in or crack a window for fresh air.
7. Join a student club or organization
College is not always about books. It is also about connecting with people. Get a dose of social self-care by participating in student organizations that align with your goals or hobbies. Asides from making new friends with common interests, you can also develop new skills by taking on leadership roles. Additionally, you can participate in activities and be part of positive changes in your community by participating in these organizations. This is also the perfect way to put your existing skills to the test and learn from others.
8. Keep an organized space
Whether you live in a college dorm or off-campus, maintaining a clean space is helpful for your study habits. A clutter-free and clean space is not only great for your health, but it also promotes productivity. Some easy self-care tips to keep a neat space involve making your bed when you wake up or cleaning your plate when you eat. These simple changes will help you develop fantastic cleaning habits that reduce stress and inspire you to stay productive.
9. Create a budget to manage your expenses better
Whether you’re a working college student or not, it helps to learn how to manage your money. There will be days when you can’t cook meals and may need to purchase food outside. There are other things to budget for, such as extracurricular events, books, transportation, or gas if you own a car.
There may be additional expenses depending on personal needs and campus involvement. Being mindful of your budget can help you in college and life. Start with the 50-30-20 budget rule, popularized by Elizabeth Warren. Essentially, this explains that you dedicate 50% to your needs, 30% to your wants, and 20% to your savings. You may change these percentages to suit your living situation and needs better.
10. Plan your days ahead of time
Planning creates a routine that can help you manage your habits and goals. With a journal, you can document how to achieve your goals with clear intentions. Planning with intentions reduces the chances of procrastination and helps you stay on top of your schedule. For planning and management, you can use the Eisenhower Matrix, which helps you prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance. It is broken down into 4 categories:
- If it is urgent and important: Do it immediately
- If it is urgent, however, not important: Delegate (find someone or a service to do it)
- If it is not urgent but is important: Schedule a time for it
- If it is not urgent and not important: Get rid of it
It helps to create a list of your tasks and responsibilities, then categorize them so you’re better aware of what needs immediate attention and what doesn’t.
11. Break down your schedule into checklists
Sometimes, it can be difficult to follow through with something on your schedule, especially if it is something you don’t enjoy. Break an activity into a checklist to make it more achievable and structured. For instance, if you need to study for your math exam, you may have a checklist that resembles this:
- Gather math book, calculator, and note-taking device
- Go to the library
- Pick a desk close to the window
- Write out math formulas on note cards
- Read chapters 1-3
- Take a break
- Do end-of-chapter practice problems
It can take a lot of work to get up and immediately get into the mindset of studying. Visualizing yourself through each step is a great way to reach your end-goal.
12. Start the day doing something you love
This can be something like talking to a friend or a family member. Maybe, you enjoy coffee, and it might be walking to a coffee shop before class. These morning habits you enjoy can be different each day if you like, and it can be something to look forward to. It is an excellent way to get a dose of dopamine in the morning before you tackle everything else on your schedule.
13. Keep a personal journal
Document your day and your experiences. This is a time to speak to yourself and focus on what you need to give attention to. You can also write down what you are grateful for.
14. Set reminders for your basic needs
Set reminders if you tend to quickly overlook your basic needs, especially when overwhelmed with work. From critical things like drinking water to simple things like remembering to attend appointments, reminders can help with your self-care routine.
15. Find a mentor
Your college journey may require connections outside of friendships. Finding a mentor in college can make your experience much better. Mentors, like professors, college advisors, or upperclassmen, are more likely to have resources you don’t have. They know things that can help guide you through college. Mentor-mentee relationships are more than just transactional. Get to know your mentor and let them learn about you to develop long-term relationships.
16. Take a break for a few minutes, half a day, for a whole day. Just remember to break
There will be days when you feel unmotivated and entirely out of energy. It feels like you don’t even want to get out of bed. If you have not taken breaks, your body is signaling that you need one. Instead of putting yourself down and pushing yourself to the limit, listen to your body and take some time for yourself. Learn to let go and recharge during this time. You can avoid getting to this point by using the self-care tips discussed in this post.
College is not easy, but it doesn’t have to feel impossible. Slowly employing self-love and self-care tips in your daily life can promote healthy habits.
Regardless of where you are in your college journey, accept yourself every step of the way. Although some people in your life will support you along the way, remember that you also need self-compassion.
Taking care of yourself means taking charge of your life and learning to relinquish control when needed. When you care for yourself, you understand when you need to be gentle, understand your limits, and learn ways to get through tough times. Let these self-care tips help you through college by teaching you how to be patient and embrace each step.