How to practice self-care

Self-care is the best kind of self-love

Self-care is important for any person, regardless of how you’re feeling. It doesn’t matter if you’re single, in a relationship, or in-between; it doesn’t matter if you’re happy, depressed, or neither. Self-care is the absolute best thing you can do for yourself. You need to care for your mind and body before you care for others. There are an infinite number of ways to practice self-care, but here are some tips to get you started.

Wake up earlier and do something for yourself

This can be literally anything, but reading a chapter from that book that’s been sitting next to your bed all semester is a good option. Listen to some calming music and stretch your body out, and really feel it move. Listen to some upbeat music to get your day off to an energetic start. Practice your affirmations (if you don’t have any, maybe consider finding some). If you’re feeling up to it, wake up even earlier, go for a walk to a ~nature-y~ area and watch the sunrise. Make yourself that huge breakfast you never have time for. Drink your coffee at home rather than on-the-go (or both). The morning is a great place to start self-care whether you do something for five minutes or 30 minutes.

Recommended books: You’re A Badass, Jen Sincero (for motivation) & Yes Please, Amy Poehler (for giggles)


Find your creative side

Not all of us are creative, but sometimes when we’re feeling low it’s hard to unleash the creative side we have, or to find motivation to do so. In your free time, rather than watching Netflix or binge-eating Oreos (not that either of those are bad things, I totally advocate for both), take out your adult coloring book and colored pencils, set up your canvas and get painting, or maybe open up that notebook or word document and get writing. Doing something you enjoy but never have time for will help you find the relaxation and motivation you need.


Treat your body right

It’s the same for most of us every semester: we have motivation to exercise and eat well for the first few weeks, but as classes get more intense and midterms fall every week, it’s harder to dedicate time to our bodies. What you need to do is make it a priority, just like studying is. Don’t let stress be your excuse to stop running, or start eating ice cream before bed every night. It’s actually proven that exercise can help us feel better when we are stressed or feeling low, so get back out there. Go to the gym. Go for a run. Buy some fruit and vegetables rather than those frozen pizzas. Take it one step at a time. And if you have been keeping up with your health regimen, good for you! Kudos, and keep moving forward.

Recommended: Yoga and water


Mindfulness + Meditation

This might not be for everyone, and some may think it’s silly, but it really does wonders. I was personally brought attention to this by the book 10% Happier by Dan Harris. It’s a story of how he used meditation to treat his anxiety, and it worked. Many self-help authors these days strongly recommend it and have all had success from it, so maybe it’s something for you to try. A misconception is that it takes hours out of your day, and you have to do it at home. Wrong! You can practice mindfulness anywhere. One way is by strongly planting your feet into the ground and focusing on your breathing for one simple minute – it could help you out in class when you’re feeling distracted. Meditation may take longer or more privacy, as well as more practice, but the more you do it, the more mindful you become.


Treat yourself before you go to bed

Just like your morning routine, there are so many things you can do for yourself right before bed that will help you feel more positive about your day. Journaling is an easy one, it only takes a couple minutes, and it’s a great way to reflect on your day or to get out anything you didn’t have the chance to say. Again, read or listen to music. Both of these will keep you away from the blue light of your phone and computer and will also help put you to sleep faster. Practice your affirmations again. Download a gratitude journal app, or write three things that made you happy or grateful during your day. Take a bubble bath if you’re fortunate enough to even have a bath in your place. Do anything that will help you unwind after your day.

recommended artist: Asgeir

recommended artist: Asgeir

Not all of these suggestions are for everyone.  If you don’t prefer most of these or want more ideas, check out Pinterest. There are hundreds of ways to practice self-care, from little (like listening to music) to big (traveling). Do what works for you, and what fits in your schedule. But make it a priority, and you will see results in your overall happiness. Self-care is the best kind of self-love.


University of Wisconsin