By 2015 Body Image Ambassador Emily Hussey, Millsaps
Medical doctors and psychologists agree that self-care should be widely prioritized and promoted; yet it remains vastly neglected, especially by college students. This makes sense – we live in a world infatuated with the “American dream.” The “American dream” is achieved by working hard. You work hard, you’ll get where you want to go. This is what we have been taught since the day we enrolled in kindergarten. Working hard is often synonymous with working too hard. Society tells us to pull an all-nighter, chug coffee and don’t stop working. You feel tired? Too bad, you can survive with less sleep. You feel sad? You are being a baby, quit crying. These are the things we are taught, but this is detrimental thinking. We have to take care of ourselves – it is the first step in loving and accepting ourselves. And by loving and accepting ourselves, we are able to love and accept others. But before we can do that, we have to decide that we are worthy. So, go ahead and tell yourself, “I am worthy.” Then check out these tips on how to implement self-care. They may seem obvious, but I promise practicing these will make all of the difference.
- Drink lots of water. Tired? You might just be dehydrated. Our bodies are mostly water, and we need it to survive. Try drinking a glass of lukewarm water when you first wake up. It will revitalize your organs and help you take on the day. Also, try to drink water with your soda or coffee. I understand the need for caffeine, but drinking water with your other beverages will ensure that you get your daily intake.
- Get some sleep/take a power nap. Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep at night, but if you cannot, take a nap. College students often neglect this self-care tip, but it is so important. When you sleep, the waste in your brain is cleared out, your memory is stored and your body revitalizes. Scientists still do not fully understand the purpose of sleep, but they all agree that it’s imperative to one’s well being
- Build up endorphins. People often claim they “do not have time to exercise.” It does not have to be a long workout – walk, run, hike, dance, lift weights, do a YouTube exercise video, etc. Just do something to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. Studies show 21 minutes is all it takes to get the maximum effects of an optimal workout. You can play your favorite music or podcast, or you can even watch Netflix while you do it. Even if you do not feel like exercising, it will definitely make you feel better afterwards.
- Writing your feelings out can be extremely cathartic. Write it down, whether in a journal, Word document or piece of paper that you tear up and never look at again.
- Go outside. Get your Vitamin D in and embrace the beautiful sunshine.
- Meditate, do yoga or pray. Focusing on your spirituality, whether that means acknowledging your presence in the world, or concentrating on your breathing, can be quite therapeutic. It also can be done in a timely manner – five minutes (which means there are no excuses for not doing it!)
- Take a hot shower. Hot showers cure everything.
- Watch an episode of your favorite show. Personally, I recommend “Gilmore Girls.”
- Buy yourself something. It doesn’t have to be expensive – a $3 cupcake can do wonders.
- In general, listen to your body’s needs. Don’t ignore what your body tells you. Tired? Take a nap. Angry? Go run it off. Sad? Journal. Just do things that make you feel better! Only you know what works for you, but these tips are some obvious, easy ways to make sure you are caring for yourself.
Self-care is not hard, expensive or frivolous. It is essential to our well-being. Our bodies need to be cared for so that our minds and spirits benefit. When we care for ourselves, we are well-equipped to care for others. Let’s destroy the myth that self-care isn’t important.