When people mention self-care, they are usually referring to working adults with families and lots of responsibilities. But today, I want to share some self-care tips for college students!
College life. It’s been said to be the time of your life. You’re living on your own. No one is telling you where to go or what to do. Living the life, right? But we can’t ignore the stress that frequently comes with college life.
Juggling class, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities, and a social life can be exhausting and can take a toll on your mental well-being. Therefore, college students need to prioritize self-care as well.
Let’s talk about some self-care ideas for college students!
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What is Self-Care?
There are so many definitions of self-care and it’s easy to lose focus by trying to pinpoint the exact definition. But, it boils down to this: do what you need to do to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
College students are deserving of self-care, just like anyone else.
Self-Care Tips for College Students
1. Make sleep a priority.
College students have so many things that pull their attention away from sleeping. There are classes (complete with homework), campus events, community outreach, jobs, parties, and so much more that compete with the need to get a good night’s sleep. However, sleep is an essential part of self-care. My first tip for self-care for college students is to make sleep a priority.
I know that there are times when you might need to pull an all-nighter for a test, but if you’re getting plenty of sleep regularly, then you should see an increase in your clarity and overall performance.
2. Don’t skip meals.
It may be difficult to have set times for meals as you’re adjusting to your schedule. However, your body needs meals to keep going. Make sure that you are planning time in your daily routine to eat. If it’s too tough to get to a cafeteria, pack snacks like fruits, nuts, or granola bars in your bag so that you can grab them on the go.
If you don’t have money for food, many college campuses have campus food pantries to help combat food insecurity amongst college students. Please reach out to someone if you need food.
3. Manage your time.
Being out on your own for the first time can be overwhelming. For the last 18 years of your life, you’ve had someone helping you manage your time. It’s very different when you’re in college. It’s very unlikely that your roommate will remind you to set your alarm and give you prompts when it’s time to go to class or other appointments. The responsibility rests on you.
Take some time to think about how you can successfully manage your time. Whether it’s using the calendar on your phone or a paper planner, be sure that you are recording appointments, classes, and due dates so that you don’t forget something important.
Likewise, it can be easy to get wrapped up in all the shiny things going on around campus! Most campuses have so many activities and organizations that can grasp your attention.
While it’s great to be involved (in fact, I highly recommend being involved), you have to be very careful not to overextend yourself and forget the main reason you’re at your college or university–to get a degree!
You may be thinking that walking to and from class is all the exercise you need. But, you may want to add some extra cardio and stretching to your daily routine. Exercise has so many benefits and can really help improve your overall health and wellbeing.
Many campuses have recreation centers that are equipped with exercise machines. Similarly, several off-campus apartment complexes have gyms that are available for residents. If your apartment doesn’t have access to a gym, several local gyms offer affordable student memberships.
If we’re keeping it real, you don’t need a gym to work out. You likely have enough room in your dorm or apartment to exercise using free workouts on YouTube!
5. Facetime friends and family.
Even though there are tons of people on campus, you may feel lonely sometimes. You may miss home and your family. That’s completely normal. Thanks to technology today, you can Facetime friends and family so that you can stay connected to the people you love so much.
A phone call is nice, but sometimes just seeing your loved one is just what you need to get you over the hump until you can visit your family.
When you have especially tough days, Facetime a friend or family member to talk and be reminded that you have people who love and support you along this journey.
6. Make connections.
As a college student, it’s important to make authentic connections that will positively impact your life. To make quality connections, make a list of those you want to reach out to. Make plans to attend networking events or other outings to connect with people on your list. Platforms like LinkedIn make it easy and convenient to build a network that may be very beneficial to you.
7. Make a motivational playlist.
Music can be very motivational. Some songs can inspire you to take an action or simply believe in yourself if you’re feeling discouraged. Take some time to think about the songs that really motivate you and put them on a playlist so that you can access them quickly when you need them.
8. Find a hobby.
Hobbies are a great way to relieve stress and an excellent way to practice self-care as a college student. There are many free and low-cost hobbies that are perfect for college students who are in need of something to do.
9. Get some fresh air.
I’ve been on several college campuses and seen students hanging around outside on campus lawns and in hammocks. There’s no denying that when I see college students outside on campus, they appear to be happy and smiling. That’s because there is a direct correlation between fresh air and improved mood. Grab your books and go study or chat with friends outside!
10. Join a club or organization.
Most college campuses have several different clubs and organizations for students to be a part of. These organizations can be a source of self-care for college students. Explore the options that your campus offers and visit some of the ones that interest you. Decide which organizations you will be a part of, but make sure not to overextend yourself by choosing too many.
11. Seek professional counseling or therapy.
Taking care of your mental health is a part of practicing self-care. Sometimes, you need to seek professional help to manage symptoms of anxiety or depression that may happen as a result of the pressures of college. Some cases of anxiety and depression are mild and may be treated with exercise, sleep, meditation, and the like. However, there may be times when you need to seek help from a mental health professional.
12. Maintain good hygiene.
Most college students don’t have mom and dad breathing down their necks about their personal hygiene while they are away at school. But, it’s still very important to continue the good hygiene practices that parents have taught over the years.
Handwashing, showering regularly, maintaining good oral health, cleaning your hair and nails, and washing your clothes and linens regularly are among the many hygiene tasks that college students need to tend to regularly. Though it’s important to practice good hygiene daily, it’s especially important if you begin to feel stressed and overwhelmed.
Don’t let yourself slip into skipping proper hygiene. That’s not a good habit to have. Caring for your physical body is a great self-care practice.
13. Write in a journal.
Another great activity for self-care for college students is writing in a journal. Journaling allows you to get your thoughts from your head to the paper. I especially recommend journaling about the people and things you are grateful for. That list can serve as a point of reference on those especially tough days.
14. Treat yourself.
College students work hard and it’s appropriate to treat yourself occasionally. Since money is pretty tight for most college students, you might choose a treat that isn’t expensive. You can treat yourself for reaching a goal or passing a test that you’ve studied really hard for.
15. Tidy your living space.
Did you know that decluttering is a form of self-care? It’s true! Think about it. When you are in a space that is clean and organized, how do you feel? Now, imagine that same space cluttered, unorganized, and junky. Not fun, right?
College students can practice self-care by keeping their living area clean and organized.
16. Eat healthy meals.
Eating healthy meals is an important self-care practice for college students. More and more universities are offering healthy meal options on campus so that students have more opportunities to eat a balanced diet.
Meditation is one of my favorite self-care practices. This is a great self-care practice for college students because it’s free and it can be done almost anywhere. Meditation looks different for different people, so college students need to figure out the meditation practice they like best.
18. Give yourself grace.
College is tough. Real tough. Outside of academics, college students face so many other challenges. It’s important that you give yourself grace when things don’t go exactly as planned or when your journey derails from your original plan.
Gone are the days that students are expected to adhere to a strict 4-year plan. There are so many students who opt for internships and co-ops that delay their plan to leave the university with a degree in four years. Give yourself grace when you face challenges that are difficult for you to overcome.
19. Unplug from technology.
Technology is great, but it can also be counterproductive to self-care. College students spend a lot of time using technology for classwork and projects, so it’s important to schedule some time to unplug.
During periods of high stress, college students should try to eliminate devices one hour before going to bed and try not to grab your phone first thing in the morning. Set timers for social media so that you don’t get too caught up in social media shenanigans.
20. Set boundaries.
Balancing all the responsibilities of being a college student can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s important to set and enforce boundaries in your life. There are so many outside distractions and influences that may make it difficult for you to focus on yourself and your needs. But, in order to establish and maintain a self-care routine, you must set healthy boundaries in your life.
21. Ask for help when you need it.
This might be a tough one, but it’s probably one of the most important tips on this list. If you need help, ask! Believe it or not, some people are willing to help you if you have difficulty.
Being a young adult is tough. There is so much to learn about navigating life. Some people have made mistakes that can serve as lessons for you so that you don’t have to make those same mistakes.
One of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned as an adult is that it’s okay not to know everything. I’ve also learned that being resourceful is an excellent quality to have. So, if you don’t know something, build the confidence to ask for help. It might save you unnecessary heartache and stress.
Most college campuses have resources available to assist students. Take advantage of those resources.
22. Practice deep breathing.
Deep breathing is a great way to relieve stress and reduce anxiety. WebMD has some deep breathing techniques on their website that can help you get in the habit of breathing properly.
23. Clean up your social media accounts.
While social media has many great benefits, it can also cause undue stress. We can all list a few accounts that really stress us out. Someone who always complains on social media or someone who constantly shares negative things can be draining. If you find yourself becoming negatively impacted by the things you’re seeing on social media, unfollow the account(s) that stress you out. Your social media is your space. You can make that space what you want it to be!
24. Diffuse essential oils.
There are several essential oils that have calming effects. Some of the most popular are lavender, rose, Ylang-ylang, and lemon. Self-care for college students can include diffusing essential oils in study and sleep areas, especially when anxiety and stress levels are particularly high.
Diffusing essential oils can invoke feelings of peace, relaxation, and contentment. There are several options for inexpensive diffusers and essential oils that are quite effective.
25. Drink calming teas.
Instead of drinking sugary drinks and those containing lots of caffeine, college students should try drinking calming teas for self-care. Teas are known for their antioxidant properties, but teas also help with anxiety, stress, and sleep.
Additionally, some teas are known for helping with studying and focus. So, when midterms and finals time rolls around, having a variety of teas on hand might help you maximize your study time!
Self-care isn’t just a buzz phrase reserved for working adults. It’s also necessary for college students to apply these self-care strategies so that they can successfully balance all of their college responsibilities.
Self-Care Strategies for College Students. https://www.concordiacollege.edu/stories/details/self-care-strategies-for-college-students/
Practical Self-Care Tips for College Students. https://www.msmc.edu/knight-life-blog/practical-self-care-tips-for-college-students/
8 Quick Self-Care Strategies for College Students. https://www.mindsoother.com/blog/8-quick-self-care-strategies-for-college-student
Listen to my podcast episode: Preparing for Success in College