Timeka Self-care

Managing Self-Care as a New College Student

May 15, 2019

This article is part of our #SparkSelfCare series. Find more here.

As a college student, it is easy to overlook the importance of self-care. Managing to keep up your grades while working, sometimes multiple jobs, and trying to maintain a social and family life can all get extremely overwhelming. I know from personal experience that overwork can take a toll on your body if you do not take a step back to dedicate some time towards self-care.

At the middle of this academic school year, I hit a point in my life where I was lacking motivation for school, work, and all of my personal relationships. I was trying to adjust my time management skills and create a balance between my work and school life. At the same time, however, I was facing additional challenges in the background with my family, which did not make the situation any better.

I just wanted to lock myself away in my room for weeks at a time and not worry about anything. Of course my guilt would not let me because I was aware of the damage that would do. Both this awareness and the urge to completely shut down chipped away at my mental health.

No one around me knew about these feelings because I did a great job at maintaining my regular joyful energetic personality in the company of others. It came to a point where I gained over 20 pounds from stress eating to cope. The stress from hating who I saw in the mirror also made me eat more. I couldn’t stop myself.

I finally opened up to a few of my friends about these challenges, and they helped me realize that I need to take more time for myself during the day, whether it's five minutes or five hours. Now, self-care is so important to me because it reminds me that I am a human being who needs to be nourished, and not a robot who constantly uses caffeine to recharge and ignores my personal needs.

Self-care is relaxation from the work, but I know it can come in different forms. For me, it’s doing the little things like taking a ten minute walk, having an hour at the gym, being mindful about how I’m eating, doing a mud mask, or even venting on the phone with my girls. All of these things help me ground myself.

In the hustle and bustle of work and school life, I tend to forget to take a moment of introspection to remind myself that I am amazing and deserving of a break. Nourishing your body and mind can reap many benefits. Personally, I saw my quality of work increase greatly as well as my ability to concentrate for longer periods of time then when I had neglected to take time to self-care. Essentially, self-care reduces my anxiety and helps me be a more productive person.

Reflecting on this rough patch in light of Mental Health Awareness Month helped me realize that if I had just taken at least one day out of each week or a few minutes in a day to self-care, to focus on my mental health and wellness, I could have avoided this situation. I encourage everyone, especially college students, to set aside time in their days doing anything that makes them feel relaxed. The benefits of self-care are extremely rewarding academically and personally.