At the beginning of my first year at Furman, I quickly invested my free time in joining student organizations, scheduled intentional time with friends, spent hours in the library (whether or not I was studying), and filled every gap of free time in between.
I tried living my life just like those “A Day in My Life: College Edition” videos, but I quickly realized that was not sustainable.
Though I was doing lots of things, meeting lots of people, and getting my school work done, I just wasn’t happy and I didn’t feel fulfilled.
Looking back, as a Junior living through a global pandemic (never thought I’d say that!), it’s clear that that lingering dissatisfaction/unfulfillment was largely because of my lack of self care.
Practicing self-care is not always easy and I’m still learning how to do it every day, but here are some of my tips for taking care of yourself in college:
- Say yes and no more often
College is a place of endless opportunities. Try new things, get out of your comfort zone, and challenge yourself to say “YES!” more often. But also be intentional with your time and energy and make sure to say, “No, thanks!”
Saying “no” can be really hard, but it’s important to take a break and know that new, exciting opportunities are always around the corner.
3. Schedule alone time and friend time
Sometimes what you really need is a break from the noise and sometimes you need a pick-me-up from a friend. Schedule time to balance your relationships with your friends and your relationship with yourself.
I like to schedule at least one day a month just for myself with no commitments or plans except to spend time with myself. This is kind of like my reset button and helps me check in with myself.
My friends and I all have pretty busy schedules so scheduling time with friends can be difficult, but it’s one of the most important parts of looking after my mental health. Scheduling time to eat, hang out, or even just have an intentional conversation with a friend can be the thing that makes my whole week.
4. Make time for intentional movement
Its true– moving your body and spending time outdoors is a cure for just about anything. Head to the PAC with a friend, take a walk around the lake, bike on the Swamp Rabbit, or just take some time to stretch out your body. The options are endless!
5. Do something to make your week easier
Sometimes the thing that’s stressing you out the most is just knowing you have things to get done. Help yourself out by going ahead and finishing up tomorrow’s homework or use some of your free time to tidy up your room so you don’t have to worry about it later. Anything that can help make life a little easier for your future self will be appreciated!
6. Reflect often
Time in college flies and so much changes without even realizing it. Take time to reflect on where you started, where you’re headed, and who you’re becoming.
Luckily there’s lots of ways to reflect on campus.
If you like a more guided approach, you can stop into the Cothran Center for Vocational Reflection– they host a lot of programming for reflection and self-growth, and the chapel encourages spiritual reflection through student organizations, intentional living communities, and off-campus experiences.
Taking care of yourself in college is more than just eating right and exercising, and it’s tough learning how to practice self-care– but even the little things you do to add some joy into your life or make things easier for your future self can make a big difference. ★