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The concept of “self-care” is nothing new, but in recent years it has repeatedly entered conversations surrounding mental health — particularly when it comes to reducing stress. The World Health Organization defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.” For college students, it can be difficult to remember to practice self-care while adjusting to a new environment, navigating recent independence and balancing schoolwork. When it comes to self-care, the methods and practices are up for individual interpretation. Below are a few simple ways to implement regular self-care practices:
Eat a balanced diet.
It’s no secret that if you eat foods full of sugar and fat, or foods that provide limited nutritional value, it will catch up with you. You may feel sluggish, which can limit your ability to efficiently complete daily tasks, and in turn can lead to additional stress.
Move your body.
Whether it’s a vigorous workout class or a leisurely walk around campus, experts agree that moving your body is proven to improve your mood through the release of endorphins, reduces overall stress and increases energy. Take a look at exercise classes offered on campus and ask a friend to join you. Your body will thank you!
Get enough sleep.
When it comes to better sleep, the Mayo Clinic encourages sticking to a sleep schedule, avoiding daytime naps and creating a relaxing environment away from screens and other distractions.
Know when to ask for help.
Being a college student can be stressful and overwhelming, but it’s ok to ask for help. You can reach out to a friend or family member for advice, or reach out to one of the numerous resources on campus. For those schools who have a partnership with TimelyMD, the on-demand program is available for students to schedule counseling in advance, and is also available for students who need to talk to someone ASAP.
Ultimately, the goal of encouraging self-care practices is to enhance an individual’s overall health and wellness. Listen to yourself, and don’t be afraid to make your needs a priority.