10 Ways Busy College Students Can Prioritize Self-Care

Female Student Studying on Bench
Can you believe it? We’re almost halfway done with the semester! There’s little doubt that your coursework has ramped up since a handful of weeks ago, which in turn might have increased your stress levels. According to the American Institute of Stress, 8 out of 10 college students report dealing with stress frequently. While stress can actually be healthy in the short term, it can contribute to some physical and mental conditions that can wind up taking a toll on you in the long term. In times of stress, a little bit of self-care can go a long way. Here are 10 simple ways you can prioritize self-care (while still handling all of your different responsibilities!):

Try Some Time Management

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of your upcoming papers, assignments, and tests, you’re not alone. What you can do right now to feel better is to prioritize your responsibilities and carve out study time to get it all done. Make a list of your tasks and prioritize what needs to be finished today, what can wait, and what you can say no to. This will help you stay on top of your schoolwork before you start feeling too frazzled.

Go Offline

We get it – it’s tough to stay off social media. However, studies are starting to show that social media can increase your feelings of loneliness and isolation, even if you’re connecting with your friends back home. When you start feeling stressed and alone, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to put your smartphone down, close your laptop, and stay offline for a while. Head outside and take a calming stroll around campus with a friend, or take some time for yourself to jump into an intriguing book.

Find Stillness in Your Day

It can be difficult to find a moment of peace when you’re running from class to class. Make it a point to find a few moments to still yourself each day, especially on those incredibly busy days. Take a couple of minutes to do some deep, diaphragmatic breathing, meditate, or pray. Being mindful of the tension you hold in your body and learning how to relax and let it go is imperative to your health now and in the future. You can also get your blood moving a bit with a little gentle yoga!

Sorority Sisters
Surround Yourself with Supportive People

When things get hard and you feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities, don’t go it alone. Reach out to your friends and family for help! Keeping yourself surrounded by supportive, positive people who can help remind you of your strengths and give you the courage to move forward can be absolutely priceless in difficult or stressful times. In addition to your friends and family, getting involved in campus organizations can help you let go of your worries and recharge (and give you another social circle that can cheer you on when you’re struggling!).

Turn Up the Tunes

Your favorite music can work wonders when it comes to relieving stress. Tuning into your favorite tunes can help lower anxiety and depression, enhance your mood, ease muscle tension, and much more. If you haven’t already, put together a playlist or two of your favorite songs to help you de-stress whenever you start feeling overwhelmed. You can also create a playlist of danceable songs to help you dance the tension away!

Take Care of Your Body

Getting into the habit of eating healthy foods, exercising most days of the week, staying hydrated, and getting plenty of quality sleep is absolutely vital to your health as a college student (and beyond). Say no to junk food – which, let’s face it, make you feel worse anyway – and indulge in plenty of delicious fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy sources of lean protein. Exchange soda for water, maintain good sleep hygiene, and make time to get up and stretch throughout your day. Don’t underestimate the benefits a good workout can have in combatting stress either!

Try Journaling

Writing your thoughts and feelings out can help you decompress from your day. Every night before you go to bed, jot down what went right, what could have been better, and a few things that you’re grateful for – this can help you cultivate a positive attitude, which can come in handy during trying times. You can write your thoughts down on paper or try an online journal – whichever is more helpful to you!

Male Student Playing Guitar
Learn When to Say No

This tip does go hand-in-hand with time management, but it’s important enough to warrant a section of its own. You might feel like you can only say yes to extra tasks and activities, but saying no is okay, too – especially if you’re pressed for time. Saying no doesn’t make you selfish; you are making a mature decision to limit your time to what you need to do and what matters most to you. Remember, sometimes less is more!

Do Something Every Day That Brings You Joy

Even when you’ve got a truckload of papers and assignments to do, it’s important to make time for your hobbies every day. Doing so will help keep your mental health in check while allowing you to express yourself within a creative outlet. Taking time to do what you love is crucial to your mental health. So, break out that sketchbook, strum on your guitar, or knit a beautiful scarf for a friend (or yourself). Your brain will thank you!

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Everyone needs a helping hand once in a while. Even though it can be scary or difficult to admit to yourself that you’re having a hard time or need help, reaching out to a professional could be one of the best things you ever do for yourself. When times get tough, don’t be afraid to visit our qualified counselors on campus for free counseling options. These professional and friendly individuals will help you find balance, clarify your priorities, and make the best choices in college while improving your overall well-being.

Remember, Bearcats, making time for self-care is absolutely essential for your well-being, both now and in your life after college. Follow the tips above to help you successfully navigate through the tough times you encounter. By setting aside time each day just for you, you will be able to grow into the best possible version of yourself!