Self-care is a vital part of your personal well-being. But taking care of yourself while attending a college or university can be exceedingly difficult because of the pressure put on students.
For one, we are often taught that our worth is associated with our academic performance and that our grades defines our value. The need to focus all of your time, energy, and resources into your studies can be very draining.
The pressure placed on students by society to have our lives figured out can also be a lot for young adults to handle, especially millennials who are just becoming independent.
Sometimes being a college student can feel overwhelming. Just ask Mariah Wilson, a first-year business management student here at Saint Augustine’s University.
“College is a roller coaster of emotions,” she told me. “One minute I’m living life, the next I’m stressed beyond measures.”
But the stress does not have to overwhelm us. Protecting our mental health and improving our self-care as a college student is key to success.
As students, we need to learn to take care of ourselves in order to focus on our studies. Here are some things we can do:
• Make sleep a priority.
According to a study done at Brown University, only 11% of college students have good sleep quality, and 73% have occasional sleep problems.
It is easy for us to stop focusing on ourselves when we get busy, and sleep is one of the things we may get rid of when we are stressed and overwhelmed. Please do not let that happen. If you are not allowing yourself time to recharge, you will eventually burn out, hit a wall and not be as successful in whatever it is that you are doing. And that is definitely something you do not want to deal with. So decide how much sleep you need and try your best not to get any less than that.
• Create an attainable academic work schedule.
Getting organized is often the first step to becoming a healthier you because it allows you to figure out exactly what you need to do to take better care of yourself.
Most of our academic stress comes when we have multiple assignments due within the same time span. I did interviews with many students and I found how often my peers procrastinate and constantly dwell on the fact that they have an overwhelming amount of work due, rather than tackling the assignments head on.
I also got feedback from students who are at the top of their class, and they said that they like to set out a specific amount of time each day to work on assignments or readings for each class. Overall, everybody’s goal was reducing academic stress because they knew that it was a wonderful way to improve their self-care.
• Minor changes can create large results.
Sometimes that could mean being alone and taking time to collect your thoughts and refocus. Whether you decide you want to go for a walk around campus, take a hot shower, or enjoy binge watching one of your favorite shows, self-care time is imperative. There are small ways that you can incorporate it into your everyday life.
Jaelyn Barnes, a graduating senior and psychology major said, “On my off days I usually take time to clean up and organize my room.” Simply cleaning and organizing various aspects of your life can show improvement in your mental health. Change often results in a calming spirit and sense of fulfillment about what you have accomplished. Sometimes it is the trivial things that make the most impact.
Remember, taking a self-care break is not a sign that you are weak or cannot keep up with the realities of college, but only that you understand that you could be a better version of yourself if you took time to self-evaluate. The more you can incorporate self-care time into your schedule, the more you will be able to grow, enjoy your life, and thrive.
Self-care, after all, is a process. And it can have results.
Wilson is trying some of these self-care methods. “I’m slowly but surely making it,” she told me.
Charteani Turner is a senior majoring in communications.