Self-Care Strategies for College Students

Young Woman Student Reading By Window
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Most college students don’t put self-care at the top of their to do lists. When you’re caught up in the whirlwind of classes, extracurriculars, work, friendship, and final exams, it’s easy to ignore a task that doesn’t come with a deadline (even if that task is simply “taking care of yourself”). Embrace the excitement and intensity of college life, but remember that maintaining your physical, mental, and emotional health is essential to your success and well-being. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, don’t punish yourself by pushing your mind and body to their limits. Instead, take time out to take care of yourself with some of these self-care strategies.

01
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Get Away for Some Alone Time

Young man reading a book in a cafe.
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If you live with roommates, privacy can be hard to come by, so make it your mission to find a peaceful place on campus to call your own. A cozy corner in the library, a shady spot in the quad, and even an empty classroom are all perfect places to retreat and recharge

02
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Take a Mindful Walk Around Campus

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When you’re strolling to class, try this mindfulness exercise to center yourself and destress.  As you walk, pay close attention to your surroundings. Feel free to people-watch, but pay attention to sensory details too, like the smell of a nearby barbecue or the sensation of pavement under your shoes. Take note of at least five beautiful or intriguing things you notice along your route. You might find yourself feeling a little calmer by the time you reach your destination. 

03
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Smell Something Soothing

Various bottles of oil and essence on market stall
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The dorm bathroom isn’t exactly a spa, but treating yourself to a nice-smelling shower gel or body wash will add a touch of luxury to your daily routine. Essential oils and room sprays will make your dorm room smell heavenly and improve your mood. Try lavender for a calm, stress-relieving effect or peppermint for an energizing boost.

04
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Stage a Sleep Intervention

Shake the dreams from your hair...
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How much sleep do you really get each night? If you’re averaging seven hours or less, commit to sleeping at least eight hours tonight. By getting that extra sleep, you’ll begin the process of repaying your sleep debt and establishing healthy new sleep habits. Don’t buy into the collegiate myth that the less you’re sleeping, the harder you’re working. Your mind and body need consistent sleep to operate at optimum levels – you simply can’t do your best work without it. 

05
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Download a New Podcast

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Take a break from the books, grab your headphones, and listen to some immersive mysteries, compelling interviews, or laugh-out-loud comedy. Tuning into a conversation that has nothing to do with college life gives your brain a break from its daily stressors. There are thousands of podcasts covering almost every subject imaginable, so you’re sure to find something that interests you.
 

06
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Get Moving

Woman warming up for yoga class in studio
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Crank up the most energizing Spotify playlist you can find and dance it out in the middle of your dorm room. Lace up your sneakers and go for an afternoon run. Try a group fitness class at the campus gym. Set aside 45 minutes for the activity that gets you pumped to get moving. If you’re feeling too overwhelmed by your workload to make time for a workout, remember that even a quick burst of exercise will boost your mood and increase your energy. 
 

07
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Don’t be Afraid to Say Yes OR No

Young Woman Student Reading By Window
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If you tend decline fun-sounding invitations because of your heavy workload, remember the value of taking a break, even when you have a hectic schedule. If, on the other hand, you tend to say yes to everything that comes your way, remember that it’s okay to prioritize your own needs by saying no.

08
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Have an Off-Campus Adventure

Feet sticking out of camper van window at beach
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Sometimes, the best way to recharge is to put yourself in a new environment. Make a plan to get off campus and explore your surroundings. Check out a local bookstore, see a movie, get your hair cut, or go to a park. If you have access to public or campus transportation, you can go even farther afield. Getting away will remind you of the great big world that exists beyond your college campus. Take time to enjoy it.

09
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Make an Appointment With a Counselor or Therapist

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If you’ve been meaning to schedule that first appointment, set aside a few minutes to make the phone call to your school’s health center. A good therapist will help you work through stress and negative feelings in a healthy, productive way. Taking the first step to start feeling better can be scary, but it’s the ultimate act of self-care.