As students, we seem to get stressed and overwhelmed too often, so taking care of yourself is extremely important. At this stage in most of our lives, many things are expected of us and we are juggling so many things at once, so we must take time to take care of our mental and physical health. There are hundreds of ways to add self-care to your routine- besides a bubble bath and face mask. Those two options are valid, but having more outlets to channel your stress and other feelings are necessary. This is important because it helps us maintain a healthy relationship with ourselves. So, here is a list of some achievable activities you can easily do.
Take time for yourself to recharge and relax
Forbes confirms that work-related stress can lead to things such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and heart problems. Those conditions are real and should be taken seriously. The Anxiety and Depression Association of American states that “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.” Being around people for long periods can increase stress for some, so recharging alone is crucial and is not selfish. Psychology Today says “Mental health stigma can run so deep that even we can second-guess ourselves when it comes to our wellbeing and self-care .”
Listen to your best playlist and color a coloring book
Huffpost states that there are many benefits of using coloring books. Regarding PTSD, stress disorders, anxiety, and the fight or flight response, they say that “Coloring and focusing on this harmless and calming activity can actually turn that response down, and let your brain have some much-needed rest and relaxation.” Psychologists tend to recommend coloring to patients, compared to meditation. Music is another amazing, inexpensive outlet. Spotify and Apple Music are popular, plus Spotify has a student discount for Premium.
DRINK MORE WATER
Hydration is important for every individual, but especially for stressed students. Healthline states that “Mild dehydration (fluid loss of 1-3%) can impair energy levels and mood, and lead to major reductions in memory and brain performance.” We see social media posts saying to hydrate, but are we really doing it? As a water bottle enthusiast, I always like to keep one with me. They are relatively cheap, plus you can personalize them! I have a Fontbonne University water bottle from the bookstore, so that is also a valid option for any Fontbonne supporter. If you sometimes forget to drink water, setting a timer on a device to drink water every 5 minutes can help you stay hydrated. It is extremely important to hydrate!
Eat your favorite snack/meal
We have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but truthfully all meals are important. We should not skip breakfast. Mental Health America shared that eating jumpstarts your metabolism for the day and that skipping meals leads to fatigue and “brain fog.” As a commuter, I make sure I eat something before I leave the house. Avocado toast is becoming more mainstream, as it is quite delicious and good for you. Taking five extra minutes to grab a snack or to pack a quick lunch can make all the difference. St. Louis Bread Company is down the street, on top of Seedz Café, offering organic cuisine. If you are a brunch person like me, First Watch is about a mile away too.
Go for a walk outside
Channeling stress through exercise has been proven to be successful. It boosts your mood, says the American Psychological Association. The fall season especially is a perfect time to enjoy the outdoors. There are several parks within a short driving distance, such as Concordia, Demun Park, or the popular Forest Park; the twenty-minute hikes there are achievable for most. You are one Google search away from finding a new scenic spot.
Buy a book or two to read at a bookstore or thrift store
Reading has so many benefits, but there are not enough hours to share them all. As Reader’s Digest shares, reading increases your emotional intelligence, which “can lead to more (and more positive) human interaction, which in turn can lower stress levels—both of which are proved to help you live longer and healthier.” Buying a few books for around $5 can also just boost your mood, too.
Hang out with your own pets
Huffpost also has an article about the health benefits of owning a dog. One of the many benefits includes lowering your blood pressure and stress. “More recently, researchers in Japan found that dog owners who were bonded to their pets experienced a spike in oxytocin — a neurotransmitter that helps us cope with stress,” which most of us can relate to as dog owners. Sitting with my dogs immediately reduces my stress and is crucial to my everyday routine.
Take a nap
College students seem to have a love-love relationship with naps. You hear some people talk about how they should have taken advantage of them when they were younger. Recharging is important, and naps are one way to get that done. Sleep.org states that “A 20-minute snooze—called a stage two nap—is ideal to enhance motor skills and attention, while an hour to 90 minutes of napping brings Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, which helps make new connections in the brain and can aid in solving creative problems.” Even with our jam-packed schedules, twenty minutes seems like an achievable nap-length.
School can be stressful, so we all need self-care options to help reduce stress, anxiety, and other things we are struggling with every day. People overlook the importance of self-care; they think it should not be a part of their everyday routine. Self-care is not selfish and is necessary for a healthy life. Whether you choose a simple self-care method, or a more complex method, it is a step in the right direction towards better mental and physical health.