What is Self-Care?
Self-care is a positive form of coping with stress. It can be a challenge to find the time to have healthy options for releasing the pressure associated with the multitude of obligations you are juggling.
Self-care is important for your mental health. By taking the time to focus on your needs such as staying healthy and finding time for relaxation and enjoyable activities you can better manage stress and increase your ability to juggle your priorities. As stress decreases, you may be more productive and have an easier time concentrating.
Self-care activities support your physical, mental, and emotional well-being and are effective if you can include some of these activities into your daily routine.
How do I make time for Self-Care?
When it feels like you have a million other things to do, it can be easy to feel like you don’t have the time for “self-care.” Here are some tips to help prioritize self-care in your life:
Plan it Out: You can try writing it down on your to-do list, setting a reminder on your phone, or making it an event on your calendar at a specific time every day!
Create a routine: When you create a routine, you will know what to expect during the time that you set aside. Over time, practicing self-care will become a habit for you!
Make the most of your time: If you arrive at class or work a few minutes early, how can you use those minutes to practice self-care?
Physical Self-Care Strategies
Prioritize Sleep: Everything seems worse when you are tired. Sleep deprivation is a major contributor to symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is important to aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Set a bedtime reminder on your phone so you can try to go to bed around the same time each day. There is no shame in taking a nap when you need to!
Focus on proper nutrition and limit sugar and caffeine intake: Make it a priority to eat regularly throughout the day and try not to skip meals. Eating regularly helps maintain your blood sugar levels which can help in maintaining a more stable mood.
Drink enough water: Hydration is so important! Try to aim for 8 glasses of water a day.
Make time for exercise: Try to exercise for 20 to 30 minutes at least three to five days a week. Even if it’s just a brisk walk around campus.
Emotional Self-Care Strategies
Engage in relaxing activities: Take a walk, meditate, do some gentle stretching, and do breathing exercises. Treat yourself to a massage!
Carve out time for your hobbies: Hobbies can provide an outlet for managing stress and can increase happiness levels.
Do something you enjoy: Make time to do something you love. Maybe this looks like hiking, crafting, dancing, reading for fun, visiting a museum, or something else!
Clean up your room or your living space: Clutter can increase feelings of anxiety or be distracting when you need to focus. Take some time to tidy your space and notice how it makes you feel when everything is clean.
Practice self-compassion: Give yourself some grace! Before you say something to yourself, think “would I say this to someone I care about?” If the answer is no, then don’t say it to yourself! Create affirmations for yourself, or check out your daily affirmation on your Oasis app. Recite it to yourself when you are feeling down!
Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness helps you slow down and focus on the present moment without feeling overwhelmed. Let’s try a mindfulness technique right now: put your pointer finger on your wrist and draw the number 8 repeatedly. Focus on the sensation on your skin.
Unplug from technology: Try putting your phone on “do not disturb” and focus on something you enjoy without any distractions.
Practice focused breathing: Take five minutes to practice focused breathing. Notice the breath coming into your nose with your inhalation and leaving your nose with your exhalation.
Practice yoga: Yoga provides many benefits both physically and emotionally by helping to reduce stress, increasing the quality of sleep, increasing flexibility and balance, and supporting a positive overall quality of life. See if your campus offers any yoga classes through the campus gym!
Journaling: Keeping a journal allows you to have a place to write down your thoughts and feelings to help you understand them more clearly. Look up prompts online if you are unsure of where to start. Or, you can check out your journal log on your Oasis app to get started.
Go outside and watch the clouds: Notice the colors of the sky and the sensation of the air on your face.
Create: Journal, write, draw, bake! Try something new that you haven’t before.
Listen or create music: Listen to music or play an instrument! Make a playlist of songs that make you happy.
Spiritual Self-Care Strategies
Practice gratitude: Write down something you are grateful for each day. This could be a person, place, pet, experience, or really anything that you are grateful for in your life.
Spend time in nature: Time spent in nature can be calming and soothing. Take a walk in nature and focus on the colors you are seeing, what you are smelling, and what you are hearing.
Pray: Prayer can help you explore meaning and connect you to a higher power.
Social Self-Care Strategies
Hang out with friends and family: Reach out and check-in with a friend or family member that you haven’t spoken to in a while.
Don’t overschedule: It’s okay to say “no” when you are busy or just because you don’t want to. FOMO is real, but you don’t always have to do everything. It’s okay and good to prioritize rest.
Helping: Being helpful to someone can be gratifying. Sign up for a volunteer opportunity on campus or ask a friend if they need help with anything. Asking for help when you need it is also just as important.
Watch something funny: Pick a comedy and let out a good laugh, either with a friend, family member, or by yourself!
Intellectual Self-Care Strategies
Look at your study skills: Take breaks when studying. Studying slowly over a period of time instead of cramming is best for long-term memory!
Learn a new hobby: Hobbies can allow you to destress while learning something new.
Play solitaire or do puzzles: Activities like solitaire and doing puzzles can help with concentration, focus, and problem-solving which can increase mental wellbeing.
Read a book: Find a new book or an article about a topic you find interesting but do not know much about. There is always room for learning!
Seven Types of Self-Care Activities when Coping with Stress. Psychology Today 2014.https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/shyness-is-nice/201403/seven-types-self-care-activities-coping-stress
134 Activities to Add to Your Self-Care Plan. GoodTherapy 2015.https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/134-activities-to-add-to-your-self-care-plan/
Schwanz, K. A., Paiva-Salisbury, M. L., VonSchondorf, J., Rossano, C., Piparo, C. and Nelson, A. (March, 2018). Understanding self-care in college students. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association in Charleston, SC.
Barbara Riegel, Sandra B. Dunbar, Donna Fitzsimons, et al. (2021) Self-Care Research: Where are we now? Where are we going?. International Journal of Nursing Studies. Volume 116.