College can be equally exciting and stressful. One way to manage the constant ups and downs of college life is to practice “self-care,” simple activities that can help reduce stress and enhance your quality of life. Research shows that, in addition to keeping you healthy, it can also improve your overall well-being.
Self-care is more than an occasional treat; it’s a way of living each day that incorporates behaviors that help you feel refreshed, re-energized, and rested. The practice helps you manage the daily stresses in your life—the academic pressures, tricky interpersonal relationships, and uncertain future plans. Everyone deals with these challenges differently, and everyone’s preference for practicing self-care is different as well.
There are lots of ways to practice self-care. What works for you may not work for someone else. The important thing is to make it a priority in your schedule. Here are some ideas:
- Sleep: Rest is essential to overall health and is closely linked to academic success. Maintain a routine that allows you time to get enough sleep each night.
- Exercise: Research shows that exercise can relieve stress, improve your mood, and help you sleep better. Block off time each week solely for getting exercise.
- Do something you love: Carve out time for your passions and hobbies, whether that’s hiking, crafting, dancing, reading for fun, or cooking. Hobbies provide you an outlet for managing stress and can increase happiness levels.
- Practice self-compassion: Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to someone you care about. Replace self-critical thoughts with compassionate thoughts.
- Practice deep breathing: Take five minutes at least once a day to practice deep breathing. In just those few minutes you can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, thus reducing the physical affects of stress. If you arrive early to a class, practice deep breathing while you wait!