A lot of the conversations that I have almost always includes the parties involved (including myself) describing and comparing just how busy our lives are. It’s almost as if our busy, chaotic lives should be worn as a badge of honor. Our society has put too much worth on being tired, unavailable, and fueled up by excess caffeine. Why should we just go through the motions like a bunch of robots? We have boasted in our business instead of our well-being. It’s challenging work engaging in the good fight of social justice, but we must remember to take care of ourselves and love ourselves in the process of it all. It’s important to recharge so that we can confidently step forth into the world again ready to take on the oppressors of society. Not to mention that self-care shouldn’t even be looked upon as exclusive from feminism. This isn’t being selfish at all. I think it’s quite the opposite. Loving others starts with loving ourselves. Here is a list of just a few self-love tips that you probably have heard of before. Nevertheless, take note people.
1) Let out a good & ugly cry. Crying is seen as a weakness instead of a strength or something that is needed as a human being. With all the tragedies and injustices we see (and maybe not see) in the world plus our issues and stress from home, work, or school life, it can be impossible to not cry. Not only does crying help us heal, it helps with stress and anxiety. Since stress and anxiety is what tightens our muscles, crying is a way to release all that stress. Whether that’s crying alone or with trusted individuals, it’s okay and there should be no shame in that. There is strength in our vulnerability.
2) Eat healthier. Yes, I know that you might have just rolled your eyes. As younger people who probably have debt piling up and a seemingly endless pile of responsibilities, it may seem difficult to successfully turn to better food options. Maintaining a healthy diet not only prevents or helps protects against being at an unhealthy weight that may lead to other health conditions down the road, it also creates a positive impact on your moods and helps with depression. It may start off with something as little as adding a bit of fruit and veggies to each of your meals. The more you practice this, the more it becomes a habit and into a healthier lifestyle.
3) Stay hydrated. Drinking the proper amount of water makes it easier for your heart to pump blood through the blood vessels and helps with every function of your body. Drinking enough water has positive impacts on your cognitive state and mood. You wouldn’t want to go through your day not being able to think clearly or feeling like you have a lack of energy. You also don’t want to wait around until you feel thirsty to start drinking water. By the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
4) Go outside. No, not just outside your room to the living room. Go outside where you can breathe in the fresh (eh…) air and take in the beauty of the trees and wildlife. Not to mention the sun! The sun is outside. The sun provides vitamin D. Much of the population suffers from vitamin D deficiency, so spending some time outside is crucial for your health.
5) Exercise. Physical activity helps with prevention of serious health conditions that can but not limited to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, hypertension, etc.… But when you dig deeper, exercise does more than that. Exercise helps produce Endorphins. Endorphins are basically a chemical that makes you feel good and ready to tackle anything that may come your way. It boosts your mood as well! So if you’re ready to punch that sexist uncle of yours, I would recommend not only educating that sexist person, but also getting a good (and safe) physical activity of your choice to release all that tension and stress you’re feeling!
6) Yoga & meditation. This doesn’t differ from exercise, but I thought that I would create a separate point for yoga and meditation anyway. Yoga does much more than just increase your flexibility. When you engage in a nice yoga session, it has the potential to dramatically decrease your heart rate, decreases your blood pressure, and helps eliminate the negative effects of stress on your immune system. Yoga & meditation helps you clear your mind and focus on you and your body. Meditation also helps with being more aware of your breathing and decluttering your mind. I promise that you won’t regret it.
7) Be more childlike. Being childlike is not the same as being childish. This isn’t about being immature. This is about going back and enjoying the simpler things like children do. And keep that wonder in you. Being curious about things will expand your knowledge and push you to step out of your comfort zone. Having a childlike element to you as an adult takes maturity.
8) Treat. Yo. Self. Although it’s very important to keep a healthy diet, that doesn’t mean you should restrict yourself from your favorite treats. Some days you just need to sit down and treat yourself to your favorite dessert or meal after a long day.
9) Punch and/or scream into a pillow. My first ever counseling session during freshman year of college included me communicating how angry I was to my therapists. I had nothing else to say but to tell them that I have been struggling with anger at everyone – including people that I love. They gave me a pillow and told me to punch it. I felt silly at first and, to be honest, self-conscious. But after several punches, I enjoyed it more and more. It’s an efficient (and safe) way to let any frustrations you may have while being a wonderful feminist activist!
10) Watch cute and/or funny videos. There’s really no explanation on why this is so helpful. I will instead leave a few links to enjoy if you can’t think of any videos you may enjoy. I hope you like cute animals and Ellen DeGeneres.
11) Get enough sleep! Yeah, I laugh at myself too when I think I can fit any decent amount of sleep into my schedule. But really, you need to get your shut-eye time. It helps you retain the information the previous day, helps you function during the day, and improves your learning. If you don’t get enough sleep, you may also have difficulties making decisions, controlling emotions and behavior, and may lead or increase depression. It’s so important that you recharge so that you have the energy to be well.
12) Clean up! Clean your room. Clean your desk. Clean your backpack out. Clean your bedsheets. It may be easier if you can turn your cleaning session into a jam session as well. Get a playlist going and you might enjoy this “chore.” You’ll thank yourself later for it. By having a clean environment, you’ll become more motivated to get things done. And plus, who doesn’t like to be able to see their floor?!
13) Hug! I understand if you’re not the type of person to hug others. But I’d say give it another try sometime. As long as that other person gives consent, hugging can be an excellent stress reliever for both parties involved!
14) Take your face out of Facebook. Unplug once in a while. I know that this is something that’s hard to do, and I’m not saying social media is unhealthy for you, because I know that there are benefits to connecting with others via technology. But in moderation! Becoming too dependent on the approval of others (likes, follows, retweets, favorites, etc.…), getting too involved with the pictures others post, or even just mindlessly scrolling can take a toll on your health.
15) Go on a personal retreat! While going to a warmer location with a beach sounds like the only way to vacation, it doesn’t have to be. You can vacation without traveling far at all. Whether it’s during the day, over the weekend, or a whole month long. Planning on taking a break from people and technology can be so rejuvenating. It’s a time to meet yourself again and be in your own company without any distractions from the world. For some people, it may be daunting to spend time alone with yourself, but this is needed. If you aren’t comfortable in your own company, now’s a time to ask yourself if you even like yourself. I recommend a personal retreat for everyone.
16) Say No. It’s SO hard to say no sometimes. You’re afraid you might let your friends or partner down when they invite you to spend time with them or get involved with extra obligations or chores. Respect yourself and know yourself well enough to know where to draw the line. If you feel like you are accepting too many responsibilities that are damaging your well-being, say no. You have that right.
17) Book a session with the school therapist. Many people are afraid to step into their school’s counseling center because they fear negative stigmas surrounding mental illness, or they feel that those resources aren’t for them. That’s not true. You don’t have to be officially diagnosed with anything to receive therapy, and you shouldn’t be giving into the negative stigmas of mental illness in the first place. Fight the stereotypes and give it a try if you feel that this is something that may benefit you. We all love to rant, so why not take advantage of your school’s resources and rant to someone who is trained to help you!
18) Spend time with your family. As college students, we may not see our family as much as we used to in high school. Even as a third-year student, I get homesick. Your family are the ones that will be there at the end of every day. They love you and would love it if you could reach out more, catch up, and just enjoy their presence.