Maintaining A Self-Care Practice While Heading To College

Whether you’re returning to college or a freshman in their first semester, maintaining a self-care practice in the whirlwind of higher ed can be a challenge. It’s often when we think we have the least time for self-care that we need it most. Follow our tips below to refill your cup and prevent burnout this semester.

What is self-care?

Despite the buzz around self-care, it’s not a new concept and it doesn’t require shopping sprees or expensive spa getaways. Self-care is anything you do to take care of yourself so you can stay physically, mentally, and emotionally well.

Examples of self-care include maintaining a regular sleeping routine, eating healthy, spending time in nature, doing a hobby you enjoy, and expressing gratitude. Self-care looks different for everyone, but your focus should be on choosing behaviors that promote health and happiness for you.

Self-care is not an indulgence; it’s an essential component of prevention for distress, burnout, and impaired judgement. Research shows that self-care enhances your health, decision-making abilities, and day-to-day actions.

How To Maintain A Self-Care Practice In College

Make it part of your routine. Time-management is key to having a happy and successful college experience, and building self-care into your routine will help you stay on track when things get hectic. Treat self-care as an essential part of your routine, like eating or sleeping, rather than a reward or something you squeeze in “if you have the time.” 

If you have trouble making a habit of self-care, try the habit-stacking hack for building habits. Habit-stacking is when you link new habits to preexisting habits to make them easier to complete. For example, if you’re trying to reinforce the habit of meditating for 10 minutes daily, you might meditate before your first cup of coffee, or whatever you look forward to in the morning.

Schedule a weekly check-in. A weekly check-in is the perfect time to notice if you’re making self-care or a priority or if you’ve been letting it slip. If you’ve been struggling, make a list of all the good things you notice when you do practice self-care. Do you feel happier or more at ease? Does making time for self-care allow you to be more present with friends? Remind yourself of all the positive impacts to make the practice stick. 

Class Tracker planners come with a built-in self-care corner, but if you don’t use a planner you can try an app like Sparkle or Exhale, an emotional well-being app designed by and for Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color (BIWOC).

Find an accountability partner. Chances are, you’re not the only one who could use some help maintaining a self-care practice while in college. Enlist a friend to be an accountability partner and decide how you’ll check-in with each other. You can even work self-care into your check-in by planning a weekly activity, like taking a walk together to catch up or having an evening craft session if that’s more your style.

What if I don’t have a self-care practice?

Self-care should be tailored to your unique needs. Your self-care practice isn’t going to look exactly like someone else’s and that’s totally normal. If you could use some help figuring out what meaningful self-care looks like for you, you can learn more about developing a self-care practice here.

We hope these suggestions for maintaining a self-care practice help you prioritize your physical and mental health this semester. Follow us on Instagram for more wellness tips!

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