A confession: when I think of taking care of myself I always think of the Parks and Recreation school of self–care. You know, the one day a year you’re supposed to bathe yourself in champagne and get fed grapes and all that jazz.
Parks and Rec doesn’t have it wrong. Sometimes it’s great to let yourself eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s in one sitting or to splurge on something after acing a test. It’s okay to treat yourself.
But the thing is, actually taking care of yourself involves more than a single day of mimosas and frivolous spending. There are some smaller steps you can take to make sure that you’re doing okay. Treating yourself isn’t worth much if you aren’t regularly being kind to your body and your mind. Here’s a few things you can do:
Invest in me–time
It’s easy to feel like you’re just going from class to clubs to class to bed without a moment where you can catch a breath. Whether it’s the 15 to 30 minutes after you wake up or right before you go to sleep, pick a half hour during the day and designate it as time for yourself. Try journaling a page in the morning. Do a face mask or that makes your face feel fresher than a newborn baby’s. Read a chapter of a book that isn’t for school before you sleep. Listen to a short podcast while you’re getting ready. Watch an episode of Arrested Development. Just do something for yourself.
Utilize phone notes
Everyday, pull out your phone and write down a thing or two that you like about yourself, or something that you’re proud of that you did that day, or something that made you happy. These can be small. “Today I called my mom just to say hi.” “I made an effort to say hi to more people on Locust.” “I had a killer hair day.” If you’re ever feeling shitty and need to be reminded about the small, good things in your life, pull out your notes and scroll through your little happiness log.
Consider a social media cleanse
While it’s great to be able to keep in touch with friends and family, it’s easy to feel bogged down by the constant urge to check every social media app you have which can lead to and just a general inability to focus on your own life. If you can’t stop scrolling in the deep, try taking the Facebook app off your phone so your interaction with the site is reserved for computer time. This applies to other apps, too! Delete Snapchat or Instagram for a week and see how you feel after—it might give you a little piece of mind.
Figure out how to fit exercise into your life.
While your mental health should always take precedent over physical fitness, learning what kind of working out makes you feel good is such a great way to be a little bit more in touch with your body and its needs. This doesn’t mean you have to become some CrossFit guru. Honestly, you don’t if you don’t want to. Take a yoga class a couple times a week. Try to go for a walk or run with friends every now and then. Get a Citibike and ride down the Schuylkill on a Saturday. But a quick body positive reminder and word of caution: your treadmill speed does not determine your worthiness of self–love. You know the phrase “no pain, no gain”? Fuck that. Do something that’s fun and feels good for your body and its abilities.