This post is all about self care activities for college students.
School is a lot of work and it’s easy to fall behind in self-care when you’re trying to do well in all of your classes and probably maintain a job on the side all at the same time.
But, we all know that if we don’t take care of ourselves right now, we’ll burn and it’ll be even harder to do well in classes when we can’t function on a basic level. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who has been there…)
In my experience, college students are the people least likely to take care of themselves. Whether we’re going out every other night to Denny’s for a 1am snack or we’re staying in and studying 24/7, sometimes us college students just need a reminder to take care of ourselves.
Not to mention this probably your first time living outside of the house. Let’s cut ourselves a break and slow down for a moment.
This post is all about self care activities for college students.
BEST SELF CARE ACTIVITIES
FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS:
1. Start small instead of getting intimidated
Odds are you’re getting overwhelmed by pretty much everything right now. Whether it’s two papers, one cumulative test, or mountains of homework for every class period, you’ve got a lot on your plate.
This is a great reason to look into ways that you can better take care of yourself and it’s also a great reason you could abandon all of these practices real quick. When you have an off-season and a lighter workload than usual, you’ll have good intentions.
But, the moment you get stressed about getting everything done, you’ll let your self-care slide. So, take it one step at time. Choose a few (3-5) activities you want to start doing. Decide on one five-minute activity you can do multiple times a week and start there.
Don’t run two miles tomorrow and never again; start by lacing up your running shoes, getting dressed in exercise clothing, and doing run/walk intervals. Call one person from home for a couple of minutes on your way to class. You get the idea.
2. Walk around campus
Put in some earbuds and go for a walk. If you want to start slow, commit to five minutes five days a week at a time of the day you’re most likely through. Avoid mornings if you stay up until 4am and avoid nights if you’re in bed by 8pm.
Use this walking time to as a type of meditation. Meditation, at its foundation, is really just you sitting (or walking) with your thoughts. I encourage you to bring a set of earbuds, wear them, and either keep them off or turn on a guided meditation.
Get in the habit of being alone with yourself and your thoughts with no external stimuli. It helps you keep in-touch with yourself and your needs. The more often you’re alone with yourself, the easier it will be to understand yourself—which is pretty important during college.
As you walk around, notice where your thoughts go. When they get negative, steer them to a different place. Try to keep your mind off of school so that you get this small break every day.
3. Invite some close friends for a laidback meal
Notice the word “laidback.” In college, it’s easy for every little kickback to become a loud, high-energy get-together where alcohol may or may not be involved. This is great in scenarios not designed for self-care.
In this case, you want to focus on feeling at ease and relaxed by surrounding yourself with people you care about. Choose people with whom you can have meaningful conversations, if you enjoy that, or people with whom you can play games and forget about school for a little while.
Make sure you choose a place where you feel comfortable (i.e. your dorm/home or a public space). The goal is to keep from going somewhere where you’ll feel pressured to leave your self-care mode and engage in high-energy, non-healing activities.
4. Watch a movie with popcorn and everything
You don’t have to leave your dorm room or home to make this happen. It’s as simple as a laptop, iPad, phone, or even mini projector and fun snacks. Get some popcorn and other movies-related foods that remind you of going to the movies when you were younger.
Invite a few close friends to watch with you and choose a weekend day to keep school stress from affecting how much you enjoy the movie. Who knows? Your friends might be feeling the same way as you and really be needing some self care activities for college students.
Obviously, studying for big tests and completing your homework by the deadline is important, but you can take two hours out of your day every now and then to enjoy yourself with some friends.
5. Plan your study schedule
This doesn’t sound like self-care, I know. But, at least some of you likely enjoy planning and taking control of your school schedule. For the rest of you who are already dreading this, I get it. Taking on entire semester or quarter of school (or however much you have left) is daunting.
No one wants to think about a test they have in ten weeks because—guess what—we’re already stressed enough. The part of self-care that everyone hates is the upkeep. The maintenance. Like cleaning your house when you’d rather be watching a show or scrolling TikTok.
Upkeeping your to-do list and staying ahead of school work is how you’re going to help out your future self. Rather than feeling the same stress as last semester when that test snuck up, you’re going to be ahead of the game and very aware of the classes and assignments that your need your time.
So, take out your syllabi, get cozy with a blanket, some tea or coffee, a candle, and get scheduling. Start with putting all of the dates of your future tests and major assignments into a spreadsheet, calendar app, or planner.
Then, work backwards and figure out how much preparation they’ll take and schedule in that time. Blocking out time now will save you the headache of doing it later.
(If you want to get fancy, you can even outline the goals you want to accomplish along the way.)
6. Talk to someone from home
Ten minutes or ten hours, everyone has someone they miss since going to college. No matter how close you are to home, you’re busy with classes, homework, and your friends. It’s natural for you to see your siblings or high school friends less.
Plus, when we talk to the people we care about and we actually put the effort into letting them know we care about them, we feel great. Choose someone you miss and call them. You can do the Millennial/Gen Z thing and text before you call to make sure they’re free.
Spend at least five minutes chatting with them. It can be on your way to class (depending on how big your campus is) or during your commute. Remember to keep your goals small, so they’re sustainable.
7. Schedule sleep into your day
This both sounds completely silly and completely reasonable because sleep is the one thing people take for granted. We assume we’ll sleep when we’re not doing other stuff, but, guess what, college students are always doing other stuff.
Whether you’re out with friends because you all want to get some emergency ice cream or you’re studying until 1am when you have an 8am. You’re going to need to prioritize your sleep and at least eight hours of it.
Take this seriously because this is always the first to go and the last thing people think of when they’re talking about self care activities for college students. Plus, there’s no reason to go through your life half-awake when you have the chance to value sleeping as much you value eating and drinking water.
8. Buy a water bottle and use it
Speaking of drinking water, do it. Get yourself a water bottle and fill it up with the drinking stations that are hopefully all around your campus. You’d be surprised how much your quality of life improves by just drinking water on a regular intentional basis.
Even though those big water bottles that have the time markers on them are cute, they’re big and difficult to carry around as a student. Instead, I suggest you get one that you fill up twice as much (it still holds plenty of water) and you get a filter with it.
Get a set of filters and this bottle will last you forever. Plus, you’ll be able to drink water from anywhere since it’ll be filtered. Thus, you get hydrated no matter you get up to during the day or night.
9. Detox from social media and the news when necessary
You’ve probably heard this since you were born because the news and social media have become almost unavoidable. If you carry around a smartphone, you get news notifications all the time about what new, horrible thing happening.
Of course, the news portrays a small part of what’s actually happening because they want clicks like every other website does. But, it’s hard to shut it off all together when you want to stay informed.
We need to know what’s happening in the world because it affects us. Having said that, you’re still allowed to monitor your social media use and exposure to the news. The worst thing you can do when you’re bored from studying while simultaneously being stressed out by your upcoming test is take out your phone and doomscroll.
10. Clean up your living space
Start small with picking up and putting away. Clean up your desk space (you may need an organizer for pencils, pens, papers, etc.) and make your bed. Vacuum your carpet and tile areas if you can; mop if you want to get fancy.
Wash dishes in your shared living spaces, do your laundry, put away clothes. Change your sheets, empty the trash and recycling. If you’re overwhelmed because you’ve avoided picking up for a while, start with a list. Walk around your living space and note everything you want to do.
You’ll likely finish in one or two hours and realize that cleaning up is a lot easier than you think (it’s also worth it!). Dedicate five minutes everyday to putting away all of the things you’ve used so the next cleaning session is made that much easier.
11. Take advantage of campus resources (i.e. counseling services)
Most campuses have some sort of counseling service available. If you’re paying for campus healthcare, you’ll get this automatically and for free. If you’re still on your parents’ plan or subscribe to an external healthcare plan, this will likely be less helpful for you.
You can start by calling to set up an appointment—and expect there to be a huge backlog because there always is. If you’re a student but don’t use campus healthcare, you’ll probably be offered one meeting then referred to someone within your network.
Let’s be clear, counseling and therapy services are definitely inaccessible for a lot of people. So, this might be of no use to you if your campus doesn’t provide more than one session.
But, if you’re already paying for campus healthcare through your tuition, you might as well take advantage of why counseling services they provide.
12. Do your homework or study outside
Find beautiful outdoor places where you can sit, uninterrupted, and do your school work. Cramming yourself into your dorm or home all day will wreak havoc on your mental health, and you’ll be surprised just how much being outside makes you feel good.
This way, you can be stressed from doing your assignments or studying and still breathe fresh air. You’re doing one thing you have to do and one thing that will make you a happier person. So, take your stuff outside and bask in the fresh air.