What Does Self-Care Really Look Like?

Prachi Kochar

A reflection of what self-care really looks like for each of us, especially during finals, by Women’s Center student staff member Prachi Kochar.

It’s a common refrain that we’ve all heard, especially around this time of year. “Don’t forget to take care of yourself during finals week!”, “Remember that self-care is important!”, and so on. But what does taking care of yourself look like? Does it look like buying yourself your favorite drink at Starbucks? Does it look like going to the gym for a hard session on the treadmill? Does it look like sleeping in an extra hour? Does it look like going to the movies with your friends? Simply put, there is no easy “yes” or “no” answer to these questions. Self-care looks like what is right for you at this point in time. And self-care does not always fit into a neat little box of “Do this and you’ll feel great!” Self-care can be an ongoing process, a process that is sometimes painful and sometimes exhilarating. And it is something that everyone has their own interpretation of, which can be incredibly overwhelming – googling “what does self-care look like” yields over 29 million results!

treat yo self.jpg

Besides these yummy cupcakes, what does treating yourself look like?

For me, self-care can take the form of sleeping in a few hours and giving my body and mind the time to rest and recover from stresses. It can also take the form of waking up early and going to the gym for a 7 AM yoga class or going for a run. Sometimes self-care means showing up for all of my commitments, even when I am tired, and sometimes it means saying “no” or “I can’t do it.” Sometimes self-care means pushing myself to finish all of my assignments when I am not feeling my best so that I will not be thrown into crisis mode later when all of my commitments pile up. What is most important is that I take stock of how I am feeling, mentally and physically, and do not become upset at myself for not being able to do everything, but also recognize that sometimes it is necessary for me to push myself to take care of myself. In other words, self-care sometimes involves doing the hard things and showing up for yourself.

parks-and-recreation-work-a-little-e1426015120564

More wise words from Parks and Recreation!

As you might be guessing, self-care involves a large amount of self-reflection – taking stock of your feelings, needs, and wants. This can be difficult for many of us, especially in our fast-paced world where we are praised for chugging caffeine and pushing past our human limits. However, it is necessary to know yourself in order to take care of yourself.

Ask yourself:

What stresses you out? When do you feel most stressed out? Is it those papers that you always seem to leave to the last minute? Is it the way that the dishes pile up in the sink during a busy week?

What can you do to reduce these stresses?

This may consist of creating a detailed schedule or setting aside a specific block of time for completing particular tasks. It may also consist of doing little things to reduce your stress during periods of time that you know will be particularly stressful for you. Remember some of the self-care methods I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post? Doing something like eating your favorite food, getting a workout in, or putting on a facemask with some cucumber slices can be great ways to reduce stress during these periods of time, but no one can tell you exactly what works for you.

And finally, show up for yourself! But don’t be afraid to ask for support from those around you – and don’t be afraid to reach out to others. If you notice that a friend is stressed or going through a rough time, you can reach out to them.

Taking care of yourself is an ongoing process that is not always easy, but you can do it. As we head into finals week, good luck, and don’t forget to take the time to take care of yourself, whatever that looks like!

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