As college students, we often stretch all of our time between studying for classes, working a side job, and attending social events so we forget to factor in time for ourselves.
When the semester gets really busy, I fall into the trap of scheduling every second of my life for others — leaving my mental and physical heath as an after thought. I lose sleep, neglect meals, and let my every thought become consumed by what’s next on my to-do list.
To truly be effective in other areas of your life, you have to make sure you’re giving yourself the attention you need first.
Self-care was originally developed as a way for patients to treat themselves by practicing healthy habits. According to Slate Magazine’s Article, “A history of self-care” said, “one cannot adequately take on the problems of others without taking care of oneself.”
Self-care is making sure you’re clean, fed and hydrated. Self-care is taking a nap when you need one. Self-care can be as simple as turning on Netflix and allotting yourself an hour or two just to zone out with your favorite show, which is my favorite way to unwind.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states that in order to feel fulfilled and reach self-actualization, which includes achieving one’s full potential and creativity, one must first address his or her other needs. Physiological needs like food, water and rest are at the bottom and are followed by safety and security, belonging, self-esteem, and finally self-actualization.
So, before you can try to put your creativity toward that English paper or give a presentation at your full potential, you must have all your other needs covered first, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Sometimes I struggle with practicing self-care because there are so many other things that need to be done. I’ll come home exhausted, and even though I know I need a nap, I go straight to work on homework because if I don’t, it’ll just linger in my mind, haunting me. Just the other day I found myself conflicted between going out with my friends and taking care of my responsibilities. I realized that if I skipped out on seeing my friends, I’d probably end up being miserable, and I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on my work. It’s still important to be responsible, but I try to remind myself that if I’m happy and in the right mindset, I get my work done way faster. And it worked: I went out, came home happy, and finished all my homework within a few hours.
I think the most important thing to remind yourself is that self-care is not optional and should be prioritized in your schedule. I’ve been trying to get into the habit of telling myself, “It takes five minutes to make a sandwich. Eat first, and you’ll be happier and more efficient.”
Aside from making sure to eat regularly and take care of your health, it is also important to take care of your psychological health. People need emotional care as much as they need physical care. Psychologist Dr. Guy Winch gave a TED talk, “Why we all need to practice emotional first aid.” He said we sustain psychological injuries such as failure, rejection and loneliness more often than we do physical injuries. Winch gave an example that really put things into perspective for me.
“It doesn’t even occur to us that we should [treat psychological injuries,]” Winch said. “‘Oh you’re feeling depressed, just shake if off, it’s all in your head.’ Can you imagine saying that to somebody with a broken leg? ‘Oh just walk it off, it’s all in your leg.’”
Self-care should become a regular part of your routine. Build healthy habits and don’t forget about the one person who matters most in your life: you.
Things I like to do to practice self-care:
-Drink water, or treat myself to my favorite smoothie from Tropical Smoothie Café
-Eat something healthy
-Take a long, warm bath or shower
-Wash my blankets
-Take a nap on my freshly washed blankets
-Get outside and exercise
-Read a good book
-Call up my friends for a girls’ night
-Watch Netflix or YouTube videos
-Turn off my phone and just take a breather from machines.