The start of a semester can be refreshing, but never fails to bring with it a new wave of stress. For students who find it hard to cope this time of year, it helps to practice self-care. If you aren’t sure what you can do to look after yourself, here are some easy tips to get started:
Pick up a pen
When life becomes chaotic or overwhelming, writing is the perfect balm. Prolific teacher and author Julia Cameron describes writing as a way to ground yourself mentally and physically. Using a pen or keyboard to translate feelings, she says, creates “a powerful connection between your inner experience and your body’s movement out in the world.”
Writing for self-care does not require Shakespearean skills; rather, it can be as simple as jotting plans in a calendar or tacking sticky-note reminders to a wall to keep yourself organized. Try journaling daily to boost your memory, or perhaps try writing whatever pops into your head to promote brain activity. For dealing with emotional or traumatic experiences, storytelling and poetry are great medicines. With abstract styles, themes and points of view, creative writing can make difficult topics easier to approach and understand.
Stimulate your senses
For treating motivational slumps, anxiety or even minor physical pain, consider aromatherapy. It’s a holistic form of self-care that’s all about the nose. Christian Nordqvist of Medical News Today, a U.K-based medical news and information website, explains how essential oils stimulate the brain’s limbic system, “which is linked to the emotions, the heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress, and hormone balance.” Some studies also claim that essential oils, when rubbed into the temples, can aid in deeper, longer sleep. Though aromatherapy may not work for everyone, essential oils — like candles and incense — are often touted as effective mood boosters.
Conquer cooking and cleaning
There are many factors that contribute to the popularity of “The Great British Baking Show” and “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix, but a major reason for the success of these shows is the relaxation they bring to viewers. For structured reality TV that might encourage you to pursue cooking and cleaning projects of your own, be sure to check out these series.
Baking is a popular self-care tactic that removes stress and guesswork with easy-to-follow recipes while still allowing room for experimentation. Seeing a finished product is satisfying for novices and experts alike, and the same is true for decluttering. Like Kondo says, tidying is a way to reconnect with your personal items by determining what “sparks joy” in your hands.
If you’re plan on cleaning as a self-care technique, try tackling small areas at a time to eliminate any pressure. Ultimately, household chores and activities can reaffirm your closeness to home and confidence in your abilities.
Embrace personal space
Self-care and healthy solitude often go hand in hand, but it’s important to remember that everyone has different needs. Maybe your personal sanctuary is your dorm or bedroom, or perhaps it’s your usual table at your favorite coffee shop. Wherever your bubble is, use it often. Set aside time for yourself once a week or every few days as necessary — even if that means saying “no” to a lunch date or movie night. Spending time with yourself can be key for inner reflection and productivity, assisted by a background of white noise or a curated Spotify playlist.