It can be easy for college students to neglect self-care. Away from home for the first time, they may not even be aware of self-care and how important it is. One of the problems with this approach is that the lack of self-care may not be felt until the student crashes, exhausted or ill from stress they did not even fully realize they were experiencing. The excitement of college, especially in that first year, can make people feel as though they are invincible, but it’s important to take steps to remain balanced.
It may sound basic, but most students, like most people, do not know how important sleep is and do not get enough of it. Sleep is important for mental and physical health. It can also be difficult to maintain a good academic performance without it because a lack of sleep affects memory, concentration and problem-solving skills. Not getting enough of it can simply make everything harder. Students don’t have to say no to every fun activity that comes their way and make sure that they’re tucked up tight by 10PM every single night, but they should be aware of the role of sleep and make an effort to get enough sleep on most nights and take naps when they cannot.
Depression, anxiety and other mental health issues can be serious problems for many students. Fortunately, they are increasingly aware of the importance of mental health in college students. College students are paying attention to resources offered when choosing a school, and they may want to make sure that something beyond the traditional offerings are available. For example, offering telehealth can be a great way to encourage them to take advantage of available health resources without necessarily having to come onto campus, an act that can seem insurmountably hard for someone who is depressed. Scoping out available resources before school starts can make it easy to access those resources when there is little energy for anything else.
College can be a whirl of constant activity and excitement, which is one of those things that can be great until suddenly it isn’t. Students should pay attention to their feelings and step away when they need to recharge, whether that means some alone time or talking to family and friends back home. Practicing relaxation techniques or meditation, going for a walk or a run, watching some streaming shows or other quiet activities can help in regrouping and reenergizing.
In addition to sleep, other healthy lifestyle choices can make a big difference too. This includes getting some exercise and making sure to eat nutritiously. Students can make an effort to get exercise in small ways, such as taking stairs instead of elevators and walking to classes instead of taking public transportation or driving. Some campuses may have gyms that students can use, or nearby gyms might offer discounts for students. It’s good to be able to have some spontaneity, but keeping to a routine most of the time can make it easier to maintain these habits.