“Self care” is something of a buzzword on the internet these days, and I’m sure you’ve heard it tossed around quite a bit. The exact definition isn’t the easiest to pin down, although the ever reliable source Wikipedia says it refers to “any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated.”
To me, self care means exactly what it sounds like: taking care of yourself. Although what this entails obviously differs depending on individual needs, this quick list contains my top 10 favorite ways to practice self care.
1. Take a long shower
I’m sure everyone is aware of how relaxing a nice long, hot shower can be. I’m also sure that your parents have told you before to hurry up in the shower because you’re taking too long. One of the great things about college is that you’re often living in a dorm, where you’re not responsible for paying for your utilities and thus, can take an occasional extra long shower without racking up your water bill.
While I would not recommend that every shower you take be a super long one (wouldn’t want to waste water of be a nuisance to your hallmates, after all!) but every once in a while, a 25 minute shower can be just the thing you need to feel relaxed and refreshed.
2. Brush your hair
If you’re anything like me, brushing your hair can be one of the most relaxing activities in the world. It sounds silly because it’s so simple, but often simple actions are the most effective form of self care.
Brushing my hair gives me these awesome tingles and goosebumps on my head and neck (some people call this ASMR and you can get a similar effect by watching these videos on YouTube) and sometimes it just seems like the best thing I could possibly do it to stand there and brush my hair slowly for 10 minutes.
3. Develop a mantra
This is a more traditional suggestion, but it’s definitely one I have recently come to stand by. In this context, a mantra is a phrase you can repeat to yourself over and over to encourage and motivate yourself and to keep you grounded in the present moment.
I was introduced to this concept by Sarah Greenberg of The Happy College Girl. When I signed up for her email list, I got a free coaching phone call with her and we developed my mantra together. We landed on “My presence is my power” because I told her I wanted to focus more on being present in the moment and focused on my tasks.
I put my mantra into an iPhone background and I love having it in the palm of my hand to refer to whenever I need motivation or encouragement.
4. Learn to meditate
I’ve written about this before, but meditation is a scary sounding yet awesome activity. It’s the perfect way to practice self care because it puts you in touch with your inner thoughts and relaxes you.
If you’re just getting started, I recommend trying out the guided meditations from Calm.com. Focus on being in the moment and just existing. I find that this always relaxes me, makes me feel more energized, and cared for.
5. Create morning and night routines
Routines are incredibly important and help create stability in your life. To me, creating stability is an important aspect of self care because it helps me feel like I have my life under control. Your body naturally relaxes into habits and routines and making sure your morning and night routines are healthy (i.e., not running out the door two minutes before your class starts in the morning or falling asleep drooling all over your laptop at night), can greatly improve your overall quality of life.
6. Start a gratitude journal
Starting a gratitude journal was one of the best steps I ever took on my journey toward better self care. I do my best to write in it every morning and every night (as part of my aforementioned routines). Below I’ve outlined the format I follow.
In the morning:
- 3 things I’m grateful for
- How I can make the day great
- An affirmation
- My mantra
- 3 awesome things that happened that day
Let me know in the comments if you’d be interested in a downloadable version of my gratitude journal format.
***UPDATE: I got a positive response to this so you can find my downloadable gratitude journal format HERE!***
7. Make and eat your favorite food
Every once in a while, you’ve just GOT to have some ice cream. Whether you’ve had a really rough day or you’re looking to celebrate a win from the day, making time to indulge in your favorite food every once in a while can be very rewarding.
Personally, I usually crave either ice cream or popcorn and I make sure not to forbid myself from eating them because those are foods that make me happy. That’s what self care is, doing things that make you feel good and improve your general wellbeing rather than refraining from things in order to punish yourself. Self care focuses on the positive rather than the negative.
8. Take breaks
Studying is an essential part of college but no sane college student can study nonstop. I may be writing this blog post at 10 p.m. in my school’s library but you better believe I’ll be taking a break between publishing this post and doing my readings for class.
Kirsten has some great tips for effective studying and the importance of taking breaks on this post on her blog Organized Charm. Breaks are to studying what water breaks are to exercise: essential but often overlooked. Not only does taking breaks help you stay sane, but it’ll help you study more effectively as well.
9. Do nothing
Sometimes, you’ve just got to be lazy for a little while. Whether this means watching Netflix for an hour or just staring at a wall for 10 minutes, it’s important to take time to wind down and just not be bothered with anything in the world for a little bit.
10. Do something
On the other hand, sometimes self care just means getting your butt out of bed and into gear. Whether it’s going to the library, working out at the gym, or just making it to the shower, sometimes the biggest self care achievement is doing something in order to feel happier and more like yourself.
When it comes down to it, the most important thing about self care is doing what’s best for YOU. Sometimes, self care can mean taking a nap and sometimes it’s getting yourself to do anything but nap. All in all, if you’re taking care of yourself in an effort to improve your life, that’s self care and that’s important.
What’s your favorite way to practice self care? Let me know in the comments below!