By Olivia Montes
Elm Staff Writer
Our brains wrap around all the responsibilities that we must prepare for as college students. On top of that, we need still to sustain ourselves by eating well and exercising daily while participating in extracurriculars.
It is overwhelming, so what can be done to escape all these stressors?
There is a bright side to what lies ahead: if you practice self-care continuously, you’ll make it through.
Merriam-Webster defines self-care as the process that helps us “take care of oneself.” Specifically, “health care provided by oneself often without the consultation of a medical professional.”
This can range from writing to-do lists for the day and then later scheduling meeting times with your professors. For your physical and mental health, creating a balanced meal plan or finding some me-time at the end of a long day.
Despite the trends that blow up in the media that include either meditative practices, diets and substitutes, or trying new giant pills “filled” with vitamins, self-care is more than just making sure you’re getting enough exercise, sleep, and nutrition.
“Self-care [in essence] is the mindful taking time to pay attention to you, not in a narcissistic way, but in a way that ensures that you are being cared for by you,” Dr. Maria Baratta said in Psychology Today in 2018. “Incorporating self-care every day helps to serve as an armor to protect the energy that we need in order to survive and thrive.”
Several methods of self-care — such as taking a warm bath or practicing mediation for an hour — have successfully been proven to contribute to a student’s performance both on and off campus.
When we follow a routine including mindfulness and self-reflection, we become more energized, more relaxed, and more refreshed going through the day.
As humans, we feel a constant need to completely fill up every time slot of our lives. We want to do everything in a matter of seconds, to check off a collection of boxes by a certain point of time.
A complete lack of self-care, however, can lead to severe anxiety, depression, and other serious disorders.
“When we are living lives filled with activity, noise, and hurry, it is incredibly difficult to feel healthy and rested,” Larissa Marks said to The Huffington Post in 2016. “In order to nurture the health of our mind, body, and soul, we need ways to re-center and restore.”
According to Active Minds, a nonprofit raising mental health awareness and support and a chapter on campus, self-care means doing any activity or pastime that brings you a sense of purpose and happiness, including baking or cooking, listening to music, watching television, or even crossing off something you’ve written down on your to-do list.
“[Self-care] means doing things to take care of our minds, bodies, and souls by engaging in activities that promote well-being and reduce stress,” Active Minds founder Alison Mamon said on the website’s home page in 2019. “The practice of self-care also reminds both you and others that your needs are valid and a priority.”
Other methods of self-care include distracting yourself from your stress. Completing a puzzle, calling loved ones on the phone, or simply doing a kind thing for someone can help you release your inner emotions.
“The thing about self-care is that it is a practice that requires you choosing to do it. It will not happen unless you intentionally make space for it,” Marks said. “With a bit of self-care, you can experience more joy, rest, and soul-health.”
Self-care is important from when you wake up in the morning to when you fall asleep at night. You subconsciously do it every day, from choosing food in Hodson Hall to picking your classes each semester based on what you know you can handle.
At the same time, you do not need to spend an outrageous amount of money to relax; you do not need that extra stress in your system.
Instead, take a nap. Read a good book. Go for a walk —anything that will put you in a healthy, well-rested mood.
Just please, for your own sanity, take good care of yourself.
You’ll thank yourself later.