With school starting and summer coming to a close, the season of relaxation is also coming to its end. For many this means more stress, less time, and a lasting search to find something that will relieve that stress in those small windows of time. A never ending cycle, it seems like. And year round companies try to sell us the “solutions:” new face masks with activated charcoal, a body scrub with essential oils, and bath bombs with coconut and avocado oil. We eagerly latch onto these items with their promises of relaxation, slathering a paste all over our face and finding ourselves wondering why we don’t feel much different once we’ve toweled off.
For me, those things offered temporary relaxation, and sometimes only the illusion of it. It seems as if we have shrunk the meaning of self care into a tiny box, stuffing it in the back of the cabinet with all of the tried and forgotten products. I hate to break it to you, but the big-picture of self care doesn’t come in the form of lavender-scented lotion. It is an everyday, concious decision to do what is right for your mind, body, and soul.
Here are the things that I attempt to do on a regular basis for my own self care.
So obvious, but so needed. I fucntion 100x better when I sleep well compared to when I cut that time short. While this need is basic, it can seem super unrealistic to the average college kid. If you can make this a priority, your waking hours will be so much more productive.
Stretching and Working Out
Our bodies need exercise for lots of different reasons, not to mention that rush of endorphins that takes over our brain. Exercise is needed for both your physical and mental health, especially when you’re under a lot of stress. My advice is find something you enjoy doing, ie., don’t go on runs if you hate running. My favorites right now are pilates (I get a free workout calendar and videos online through Cassey Ho’s Blogilates site–there are so many online resources for free workouts) and running.
This one is really important for me. Healthy eating, like working out, allows you to feel good physically and mentally. If I have a week where I just eat whatever, I end up being really tired, sometimes irritable, and just uncomfortable in my own skin. When we eat poorly regularly we get so used to how badly it make us feel that we don’t even realize we don’t feel good, for example lack of energy, bloating, discomfort, etc.
Seemingly a no-brainer, but not everyone takes time to take care of themselves like they should. From showering regularly, complete dental care (yes, flossing), trimming your nails, a skin care routine, and even a facemask every once in a while, it is important to take care of your physical body. Our body literally carries us through life, take care of it because you only have one.
Alone Time, Rest, and Saying No
Like, real rest. Not binging Netflix or scrolling through social media. Those things still have your brain going a million miles a minute. Sure, you’re laying comfortably on your bed, but your brain is in a fog. You don’t need constant entertainment, give your brain a few minutes to chill.
Alone time is important for a lot of people, so let me just say this: just because you’re “not busy” doesn’t mean you have to say yes to something else. I am so guilty of sacrificing time with myself to accomodate others, which leaves me feeling drained. If someone asks you to do something, even if you can physically make it work in your schedule, you’re not obligated to say yes. The world will keep on turning if you turn down an invitation to something.
Stop Thinking You Have to Do Everything
I tend to stretch myself too thin. I make too many commitments, pack too many things in one day, and put too many things on my to-do list, feeling like a failure if it doesn’t all get done. Not everything is life or death. Really evaluate what it is you care about, what you have time for, and what will still be there tomorrow if you put it off today.
Time with God
At the end of the day, God is going to give you the ultimate rest for your soul. However this looks for you, whether it is prayer, listening to worship music, study, devotional, etc. it is so good for you to give even a little bit of your day to God.
“Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30