Ask any of my friends who know that I’m an avid fan of NBC’s Parks and Recreation and they will tell you that I live by the motto “Treat yo’self!” Not only do I use it as an excuse to splurge on that extra pairs of shoes that I definitely don’t need or to snack on a large side of fries, but this phrase that has become such a buzzword (buzzphrase?) urges me to practice essential self-care that results in the preservation of my physical, mental, and emotional health.
Although despite what some may think, it isn’t always easy.
Because we live in a fast-paced society that pushes for hard work and productivity, self-care can sometimes be viewed as lazy or selfish. As college students, many of us probably feel guilty when we abandon our textbooks for even an hour to catch up on our favorite Netflix series. (I know I do!) But here’s the truth: self-care isn’t selfish. It’s required for our survival. When we become so involved in our classes and our work and our various time commitments, it’s easy for us to become drained and unmotivated. Self-care is what refreshes us when we need it most. It’s like a fresh glass of lemonade on a hot day; it replenishes our bodies and minds and renews our ability to interact in the world around us.
Because it has been about six months since my last blog post on self-care, I have been reflecting on how self-care has changed over the past year in my own life. Since the start of the new school year, I have been extremely busy trying to balance my time between a full class schedule, two part time jobs, an internship as a student teacher at a local elementary school, and some sort of resemblance of a social life. As much as I enjoy all of my commitments, I have to admit that I’ve felt pretty burnt out and unmotivated at several points throughout the semester. My need for self-care has been at an all-time high. If this year has taught me anything, it’s that self-care is more than just a form of stress relief. While stress relief is meant to lessen the burden of our physical and emotional tension after it has already hit us, self-care is meant to prevent burn-out. It’s an act that should be practiced before we are feeling like we’re at the end of our ropes. My experiences this semester have turned me into a firm believer that self-care should be practiced in some capacity at least every day, even if just for a couple minutes. For those who work in helping professions, taking care of yourself is an essential first step in being able to help others. As a student teacher who happens to fairly introverted, I find myself needing to practice self-care every day in order to just keep up genuine interactions with others. Although I usually get less than twenty minutes for lunch every day, I try to spend that time reading while I eat to clear my mind. Even though it may not be an extensive amount of time, it’s important to sprinkle in a little self-care whenever you get the chance.
In honor of practicing self-care in preparation for finals week, here are some of my favorite ways to unwind and appreciate all that I do for myself:
- I’m a huge fan of hiking and unwinding in nature. If this form of self-care appeals to you too, Maryland State Parks have some great trails of hikers of all levels.
- Who isn’t obsessed with youtube videos of adorable lemon beagles doing adorable things?
- Reading is one of my favorite forms of self-care because it allows me to escape from my busy mind. Here are some free books that you can read online.
- On Dealing with negativity
- 33 Quotes to Inspire Self-Care
- Making a Comfort Box
- The Quiet Place Project
Want to learn more about self-care? Stop by the Women’s Center between 10am and 5pm on Tuesday, December 9th through Thursday, December 10th to practice the “art” of self-care through open-house events focused on DIY self-care.