College students often feel like they have to choose between their education and their mental health. More often than not, many college students are feeling the effects of burnout. Nonetheless, it is possible to balance school and self-care, and this doesn't have to be the case! There are plenty of ways to prioritize both self-care and school.
Let's admit it-- as much as we strive to be the best in class and the best version of ourselves, we tend to overwork it. And in effect, it damages our physical and mental health. In the process, our academic success becomes harder to reach. So here are some self-care tips for college students that will go a long way in helping you survive college and life.
1. Get Enough Sleep
This may seem obvious, but it's so important! College can be overwhelming and exhausting, so make sure to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Sleep deprivation leads to not just mental health issues but as well as physical health issues--and a lot of it. Sleep is the time for our bodies to recuperate, recharge, and regain strength. So it’s important to get ample time for sleeping to function well and have better overall health.
To help yourself get enough sleep despite the busy college schedule, it might help to:
- Keep a regular sleep schedule
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine
- Limit caffeine and blue light exposure before bed
- Avoid working or studying in bed
2. Eat Healthy
Eating nutritious food will help your body and mind feel better. Fueling up with junk food will only make you feel sluggish and run down. Therefore, as much as grabbing a burger and fries from fast-food sounds good and convenient, it won't give you the nutrients you need. This is already basic knowledge, but we tend to file it away for the sake of convenience.
College students have no time to have a proper meal with all the homework, exams, and other school work they need to juggle. However, it doesn't mean you can just forge eating healthy, eat more fruits and vegetables if possible. If you have great time management skills, set a day to meal prep healthy meals for yourself.
- Find a workout buddy to help motivate you
- Take advantage of free gym access that may be available through your school
- Join an intramural sports team or student recreation center
- Look for active clubs and organizations on campus
Taking some time out for a workout or some other physical activity can help improve your energy and mood. Exercising releases endorphins or happy hormones that make you feel light, relieved, and stress-free. Exercising is a great self-care tip for college students because you're not just working on your physical health but, in effect, your emotional well-being. This will lower your stress levels and blood pressure and ultimately improve your sleep--which are all great for maintaining focus while studying.
There are plenty of ways to fit exercise into your busy schedule:
- Take a brisk walk or jog around campus
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator
- Park further away from buildings to get in some extra steps
- Ride a bike to class or around town
4. Take Breaks
When you're feeling overwhelmed or stressed, take a few minutes to yourself to relax and rejuvenate. Go for a walk, read your favorite book, or just take some deep breaths. If you need to, go ahead and do some self-care activities such as finding a hobby, going to the spa, or taking quick short breaks, whether it’s a long walk at the park for some fresh air or a quick weekend road trip.
In order to help yourself as a college student, you need to realize that rest is also important. If an all-nighter is unavoidable, then taking naps in between will help you push through the night. To relieve stress means to steer away from your stressors, but it doesn't also mean that you can’t take breaks every day, manage your time, and plug areas wherein you can have some breather time.
- Take a break from social media
- Unplug from technology for a while
- Spend time with friends and family
- Do something you enjoy outside of school or work
Breaks don't have to be naps or activities; breaks can be time to practice deep breathing or practice mindfulness. Adding them to your daily routine will do wonders for you!
5. Connect With Loved Ones
Stay connected with friends and family members who make you feel good and can help reduce stress and promote positive emotions. These are also moments where you can be vulnerable with them and share what it is that may be causing you overwhelming anxiety or extreme stress.
Having a safe space, especially with a loved one, is a great way to prioritize self-care and manage stress and feel better. After all, it is essential to have an emotional outlet, and it is even more crucial during tough times and when you're feeling overwhelmed. When you feel like you can't handle everything on your own and you need some mental health care, surround yourself with supportive relationships. Moreover, talking to a close friend or a family member who can understand and listen to you non-judgmentally can be very therapeutic.
- Talk about your feelings
- Spend time with friends and family
6. Do Something You Enjoy
Make time for activities that bring you joy. Whether it's painting, playing an instrument, or watching your favorite TV show, doing things you love can help reduce stress and improve your overall mood. Set a personal mental health day for yourself every week where you can just relax and do things that make you happy.
Dedicating some time to activities that make us happy is one way of filling our emotional cups so that we can show up better for others during tough times and in our everyday lives. When we have a good support system, managing stress becomes a lot easier, and we can better cope with the challenges that come our way.
7. Be Mindful Of Your Thoughts
Your thoughts can impact your emotions and your entire mental well-being, so try to focus on positive thoughts. If you find yourself dwelling on negative experiences or thinking negative thoughts, try to refocus your attention on something positive. This can be anything from appreciating the good moments in your day to practicing gratitude.
Being mindful of what we think is a great way to condition our minds to be more positive. And it doesn't happen overnight; it's a process. Just like everything else, it requires effort and consistency. A lot of the time, we are our own worst critics, and we need to learn to be more gentle with ourselves. One way to do this is by having the time to practice mindfulness and meditation. Being mindful and aware of your thoughts helps you realize your pain points and triggers. It allows you to work on them to de-stress, increase feelings of positivity and productivity, and improve your mental well-being.
8. Practice Relaxation Techniques
You can try several different relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises. Find one that works for you and make it a part of your self-care routine. For instance, take the time to practice deep breathing. Shallow breaths just add to anxiety, making you feel choked up. In contrast, deep breathing expands your lungs and makes you aware of yourself at the moment. It also forces you to focus on your breath, which can help clear your mind and relax your body.
There are other self-care activities that are great relaxation techniques, such as reading, listening to music, or writing. It is important to find what works for you and that you can commit to doing it on a regular basis.
10. Practice Self-Care For Your Physical and Mental Health
It's important to schedule some “me” time into your busy college schedule. Whether it's taking a bubble bath or going for a solo walk, doing things that make you happy will help you feel better overall. "Me time" can be anything you find enjoyable, like cooking, cleaning, or shopping, as long as it is a safe practice that will not harm you or others.
Sometimes we are taught that "me time" is a selfish concept, but in reality, why should we be selfish towards ourselves? On that note, be mindful of your physical and mental health, and be sure to schedule some "me time" for yourself every week! Self-care is so important, especially for college students who are juggling school, work, and social life. It can be hard to find a balance, but making time for yourself is crucial in order to stay sane and avoid burnout.
11. Be Organized
Staying on top of your schoolwork and other responsibilities can help reduce stress. Create a to-do list and cross off items as you complete them.
Visible clutter can also be a stressor, and having a cluttered life is very stressful. Implore organization techniques and plans so that you are on top of your academic goals, life goals, or your basic everyday to-do lists. Being organized will help you have a clearer mind for situations that calls for you to be present and in the moment.
12. Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Asking for help when you need it is nothing to be ashamed of. Whether it's asking a professor for clarification or seeking out counseling services, admitting that you need assistance shows strength, not weakness. We sometimes feel weak if we ask for help, but it's important to know when to set boundaries for yourself and be aware of how much you can take and understand.
Your Well-Being Matters Equally To Your Academic Success!
If you are struggling to balance school and self-care, don't hesitate to reach out for help. Many resources are available on campus to support students, including counseling, health, and academic support services. You can also find helpful tips and articles on the library's website or speak with a librarian for more information.
Nonetheless, the bottom line is that staying healthy physically and mentally cannot be put on the back burner, especially for college students and even working adults. Paying attention to your self-care needs will help you feel better, do better in school, and be more productive overall. So don't be afraid to take days off from your academics and just focus on yourself, but don't use your mental health as an excuse to stop striving and thriving in life.
And with that ends our self-care tips for college students! We hope these tips will be helpful and that you'll be able to find some time to incorporate them into your busy schedule. Until next time, take care!