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You can’t pour from an empty cup. Prioritizing self-care is crucial to leading a happy and healthy life. Check out our self-care tips!

Go outside

Believe it or not, lack of natural light can actually affect your mood and your circadian sleep cycles. So, all those hours spent in the library away from the windows? It could be putting you in a bad mood and making it difficult for your body to fall asleep at night. Be sure to take a break from studying every once in a while to go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air.

Sleep

For all of you guzzling the caffeine and pulling all-nighters, we have a new mantra for you: Always, ALWAYS choose sleep. There’s only so much you can learn or accomplish when you are operating on little to no rest. By going to bed at a decent hour, you will give your brain time to recover and process the information from your day (AKA improving your memory). And when you wake up, you will be refreshed, clear, alert, and more creative. It’s a win-win!

Unplug and go tech free

At least for a little while. Put your phone on airplane mode, and take some time to be in the moment. We know you probably hear this all the time, but freeing yourself from the constant influx of dings, DM’s, and double taps allows you to be more aware of the present and deepen the connections you have with those around you.

Drink more water

This is another tip you probably hear all the time. Of course, drinking water can’t make all your apprehension go away completely (especially if you have anxiety), but it can certainly help. All of your organs, especially your heart and your brain, demand water to operate properly. Dehydration can lead to stress, and stress can lead to dehydration. Keep a (reusable) water bottle handy to quench all your worries!

Practice meditation or yoga

The spirituality of meditation and yoga make this a great option for self-care. Both activities involve mindfulness, the psychological process of bringing attention to the present moment in a nonjudgmental way, focusing on thoughts, feelings, sounds, and sensations. All of us have the ability to be more mindful in our daily lives and reap the benefits of mitigated stress, fresh insight, self-awareness, and increased care for others’ well being.

Write down your thoughts

Sometimes bringing a pen to paper can help you understand and organize the thoughts swirling in your mind. Journaling also provides an emotional release that can be extremely therapeutic for people that have a lot going on. To incorporate journaling into your life, form the new habit by dipping your toes. Try journaling a few times a week either in the morning or right before bed.

Do something creative

There are all sorts of ways to be creative! Grab the crayons and fill in a coloring book, paint a canvas to hang in your room, write an outlandish story, make up a game to play with your friends, or brainstorm other ways to be creative! If you are looking to increase your creativity in your daily life, check out these ways to express yourself!

Watch a funny movie

Laughter is fundamental to alleviating pressure and feeling jubilant! When you have a good laugh, your body releases feel-good endorphins and infection-fighting antibodies. If you don’t have the time to watch an entire movie, settle for a TV show or entertaining YouTube videos. In doing so, you are improving your overall health!

Take a shower

There are all kinds of psychological benefits to showering in both hot and cold water. It is believed that warm showers or baths assist in relaxing and reducing feelings of loneliness, and bathing in cold temperatures improve your mood and alertness. Being squeaky clean and sweet smelling is just an added plus!

Clean your room

Keeping your room uncluttered and tidy will make it easier for you to unwind and clear your thoughts. There are all kinds of studies that show a clean and organized environment improves the mental and physical health of those who inhabit them by reducing anxiety and improving sleep habits. If cleaning your room in its entirety feels like too large of a task, try focusing on one area at a time; organize your desk one day and your closet the next.

Pet a dog (Or an animal of your choosing)

Some schools have scheduled events during finals week in which you can go pet service puppies on-campus. If your college doesn’t offer this, try volunteering at a local animal shelter or finding a pet store nearby. Pet therapy has proven to have a calming effect on all kinds of people including those with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Sing along to your favorite songs

You don’t need to be a professional musician to add singing to your self-care routine. No matter how you sound, singing is a natural feel-good activity that decreases the level of the stress hormone, cortisol, and releases muscle tension. Because singing requires you to breathe deeply, you draw more oxygen into your body improving your blood circulation.

Eat your favorite food

For obvious reasons, excessive emotional eating isn’t a healthy habit to form. However, it doesn’t hurt to indulge every now and again with your favorite sweets or salty snacks. You could even treat yourself to a meal at one of your favorite eateries as an act of self-care. In a society plagued with harmful attitudes towards food (AHEM, diet culture), do not feel guilty for savoring something that you like.

Pick up a new hobby

If you have trouble setting aside “me” time, starting a new hobby is great way to do so! You can experiment with new activities to explore your interests and passions. Or, if you already know your passions, get out there and make it happen! This will give you a chunk of time every day or every week to escape your worries and surrender any tension from your course load.

Go on an adventure

Opt for a change of scenery by planning a day trip with your close buddies or visiting a local museum or national park. Changing your environment and exploring a different place can have an incredibly mind-clearing effect. You don’t need to go far; feel free to switch it up on-campus or in neighboring cities.

Spend time with people you love

More specifically, hang out with the most positive people you have in your life that always lift your spirits. That may mean calling up your parents, siblings, friends from home, or hanging out with some of your new friends at school. Remember that time is never wasted when you are spending it with the people that you care about the most.

Spend time by yourself

It is super common for students starting college to experience new feelings of loneliness along with their sense of freedom. Combat those emotions by taking advantage of alone time and using it as a chance to really get to know yourself.

Dance

Turn up your speakers and throw a dance party in your dorm (even if it’s just a party of one). Moving your body and losing yourself in music is a great way to relieve strain. For many, dance is a creative outlet to express themselves. Don’t hesitate to choreograph some new moves, work up a sweat, and free your mind from all your other responsibilities.

Put yourself first

The ultimate key to self-care is to put your (physical AND mental) health first. Though we may know what sort of activities bring us joy, often times we don’t take time out of our hectic schedules to pursue those interests. Instead, we fill our time with other obligations and responsibilities that we deem more important. Doing things for the sake of your own satisfaction will help you live a rewarding lifestyle that balances both work and play.

At the end of the day, worry and exhaustion impede efficiency. By giving your mind and body a rest (whether by taking a nap or pursuing other interests), you will not only feel happier, but you will be more productive in accomplishing your goals. Think about your reaction to other people when they boast about pulling an all-nighter; rather than giving a pat on the back for their hard work (which feeds a culture that glorifies self-destructive behavior), encourage your friend to take a break. We all deserve to make self-care a priority in life.