8 Rules For Self-Care

In college it's so easy to forget about self-care. There are classes and homework and projects and essays and jobs and extra-curriculars and friends and relationships and before you know it, it's 3:30 a.m. and you can't fall asleep because you're wired on coffee and half a pint of Ben & Jerry's "The Tonight Dough." Just writing that sentence made me exhausted.

Self-care is one of the most important things you can do. I've struggled with keeping up with it, especially this past semester. I don't have a proper sleep schedule, nor do I always eat as well as I should.

So this is as much a reminder for me as it is for you: Don't forget to take care of yourself! I know that I wouldn't treat anyone the way I've been treating myself lately.

1. Sleep

Being well rested is essential to health. You'll have more energy, more patience, and less anxiety after a good night's sleep. Adults should have about eight hours of sleep per night, or accumulate eight hours of sleep in a day. To ensure you sleep well, create and stick to a sleep schedule and make sure you are relaxed and comfortable when you go to bed.

2. Hydration

When you're concentrating on several different things at once, the classic tip "eight cups of water a day" is easily forgotten. But staying hydrated is incredibly important. It helps keep skin clear, your mood balanced, and helps both digestion and your immune system. Try to keep a water bottle on you at all times so you have the constant reminder to drink throughout the day.

3. Exercise

I'll admit it: I haven't been to the gym yet this year. If I have a thousand things that need to get done, exercise is the first thing to be left out. That being said I know I should go to the gym more often. Keeping up with your physical health reduces stress and releases endorphins (the chemicals that make you happy). Exercise is also defined as any form of physical activity. So dancing in the apartment, walking around campus, or hitting the gym could all help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

4. Netflix is Your friend.

The well-known enemy to homework, Netflix is actually your friend. Focusing on so many academic or personal tasks at once is incredibly stressful, so a lot of people simply crash. Taking breaks in between tasks can help prevent this. Don't be afraid to step away from homework and watch an episode or two* on Netflix. It'll help you get out of the stress vortex for a while, and you'll return to work feeling more relaxed and ready to go.

*Please make two your limit because, let's face it, TV is addicting and Netflix is even worse. Binge watching Netflix or procrastination by Netflix can be just as much an aversion to sleep as doing work.

5. Meditation

When students are so overwhelmed by long To-Do lists, nervous breakdowns are not uncommon. But they are avoidable. Meditation is an incredibly powerful tool to combat nervousness, anxiety, and stress. Find a quiet place, get comfortable, and clear your mind. The Loyola University Maryland Counseling Center had several meditation guides on its website to help students as they face stressful moments at the end of the semester.

6. Eat well.

While pizza and mac-n-cheese are little miracles given to students via DiGiorno and Velveeta Cheese Company, I think we all know that they are not the healthiest options. They are delicious, convenient, quick, and cheap and that's why students love them so much. However it's incredibly important to eat a balanced diet, with vegetables, fruit, proteins, dairy and carbs. I never have a problems getting in dairy and carbs, but I'll admit that I don't eat as well as I should.

In addition to a healthy diet, you should keep a balanced eating schedule. Eating too late at night can affect your sleeping habits. Eating in large increments can take a toll on your metabolism and energy levels. Eating three meals a day, with proper serving sizes, helps maintain energy levels and good mood.

7. Know the difference between "Me Time" and "We Time."

I love my friends to death, it's true, and I'm so #blessed to be able to live with my best friends. Hanging out with friends is a great way to unwind and a lot of fun. But it's also important to recognize when you need time for yourself. Take naps, go for walks, close your door, whatever you need.

8. Know your limits.

Overcommitment is so easy to do. Students feel pressure to take on jobs and internships, leadership positions on campus and in extra curricular activities, and get perfect grades in all their classes. Please don't stretch yourself too thin. I know for a fact that I did that this semester. After reevaluating everything I was involved with, I cut out some things that just caused me too much stress. It was an instant relief, and now I know that next semester I will be healthier, happier, more relaxed.

Never forget to take care of yourself. If you're used to working constantly and never letting yourself rest, then it will be difficult. It was a hard lesson for me to learn, but now that I've adopted these rules for my life, I've been feeling so much better.

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