Self care for college students can be the last thing on anyone’s mind with tons of deadlines. This post will include practical college self care ideas to help you out!
Self care is one of the things that college students tend to forget about. Then add in the unstableness and craziness of the past two years. But even before that, I realized mental health in college is something not easy to maintain.
College is not easy. Students need to learn how to take care of themselves because it’s also the first time of their life where they are on their own. Most students in their first year experience homesickness and loneliness. Later on, the stress of passing important class to graduate on time leads to stress.
No matter what your major or coursework is, college is not easy. Burnout, stress, and anxiety is high amongst college students.
Students’ wellbeing and mental health are usually placed on the backburner, but it doesn’t have to be. This blog post is all about self care for college students and things I wish I knew before college.
This post will also give practical tips on self care instead of self care ideas. I already have plenty of blog posts on self care ideas and specialized self care (e.g. 5 minute self care, how to create a self care kit, etc.)
What is self care?
Self care is straight up taking care of yourself. It’s very ambiguous, but mainly it’s about taking care of not only your physical self but also it’s about your mental health. It’s also about maintaining a good relationship with yourself.
Why is self-care important for students?
Self care is important for students due to how difficult and mentally taxing college is. Students are constantly chasing deadlines, worried about paying for school, and then also finding out who they are.
18 Practical Tips For Self Care for College Students
1. Eat healthier.
One of the easy ways to practice self care for students college is to start eating healthier. Instead of eating heavy foods that will tired your body to just digest, try eating foods that will give you energy. I remember being in my freshmen dorm and eating pizza from the dining hall that would put me to sleep when I needed to work on an essay.
Start simple and cheaper. I know that some campuses have a healthier option usually in the dining hall. My university even had a farmer’s market on once a week. Look for protein-rich foods or snacks to carry around to boost your energy level.
2. Take a social media detox.
I know that you know that we Gen Zers know that we have a problem with social media. Put down your phone. TikTok ain’t going anyway for right now. Instagram’s getting boring anyway. Social media isn’t going anywhere and our brains are fried with dopamine.
Studying won’t give you the high that you think it will. This video from Simon Sinek convinced me (kinda) to really start spending less time on social media. Anyway, take a social media detox or social media break to help with your wellbeing. You need to focus on yourself and not the rest of the world. Delete some apps. Make it harder to get on social media and easier to study.
Related: The Best 30 Day Social Media Detox Guide (+ Free Printable)
3. Learn that your grades don’t define you.
After graduating college, your grades will not mean much. Unless you are going to graduate school or medical school, most employers will not care. I’ve had so many job interviews while job hunting and no one asked about my grades.
This is probably some not-so-great advice but I also had professors tell me this. But a C is still passing. I even had one professor even say she would be on the fence if she saw someone have a 4.0 on their resume as a GPA and lacked any experience. Most jobs want to know about what you did and learned rather than your GPA.
Anyway, don’t let your grades define you to the point where you are stressed. You’ll be fine.
4. Take a break.
Your brain needs a break. Give it a well deserved break. You do NOT need to constantly running and being busy. Getting rest and taking a nap is 100% productive. You need to rest. After a hard test, give yourself time to relax. Put sleeping on your schedule. Also, use a Pomodoro Timer to give yourself breaks in between work or study intervals. Stretch. Buy yourself a nice snack. Find you a quick self care activity to do in between breaks.
What I used to do after a difficult test, I’d literally go home and take a well deserved nap.
5. Find a therapist.
If your mental health is not the best, find yourself a therapist. Therapy helped me improve my mental health and stress levels during the last two years of college. I truly recommend that you personally research what type of therapist you want. Find the best one for you will be the biggest hurdle to jump but it’s worth it.
Most college campuses have counselors and mental health resources for students to use. Check in with your student health center to either meet with one of their therapists or go off-campus.
Breathe in for 3 seconds and breathe out for 3 seconds.
Take a few deep breaths. Learn how to meditate. Meditation helps you focus on the present moment. It’s not only relaxing but makes things feel overwhelming. Most videos range from 5-10 minutes which you can do in between studying or early in the morning.
I started meditating college to clear my mind by using a few free videos on YouTube and did it after my morning yoga. It honestly was like a mute button for my anxiety.
7. Read self-help & self-improvement books.
If you are a reader or even not, you should definitely read some self-improvement books. I know that reading more sounds tiring after all the textbook readings, but self improvement books will tremendously help you. Even if you don’t like reading, then listening to audiobooks is a great way to boost your confidence or learn how to control overthinking.
I always recommend The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz to my friends still in college because it’s a quick read and simple. The audiobook is only 2 and a half hours long.
8. Organize your space.
Sometimes the most simple self care for college students is just cleaning their studying desk. I used to do this whenever I would get overwhelmed with studying after a long time. Clean your desk once or twice a day.
9. Stop impulsively shopping.
Retail therapy is only going to help for about a week. Save yourself the trouble later on with either the credit card debt you’ll have to buy or worrying about the money gone from your bank account. Stop using shopping as a way to cope with stress.
10. Get enough sleep.
Similar to taking a break, get enough sleep. Even if you are on a tight schedule, you need to sleep. All-nighters aren’t going to help you, but hinder you in the long one. Plan out tiny blocks to study and get work done.
11. Understand that college is only 4 years of your life and most of it won’t matter in 5, 10, or even 20 years.
That F you made on some pop quiz will most likely not matter when you’re about to get your dream job offer. Yes, some things will matter but most projects and assignments I worked on during college, especially some of those pointless Gen-Ed classes, I barely remember. Just know that one mistake you made today most likely won’t matter in 5, let alone 1 year.
12. Try speaking to your professors for a mental health day.
This can come off so privileged, but straight up ask for a mental health day. If enough students ask, maybe they’ll cancel a class. This was the situation for the majority of my classes. We always used the excuse that we wanted to bring the best of our abilities. But even then, being honest and asking for an extension for an assignment is a good idea to do. It works better if you’re also a student who always turns in your work on time, as well.
Related: 19 Self Care Day Ideas To Unwind & Destress
13. Use campus resources.
If you can’t find a therapist, then I’d recommend using any free resource for wellbeing that your university has. Going to those free pet therapy events was nice during midterms and finals week. But for more serious resources, you can always reach other to a faculty member or attend a free workout class.
14. Exercise and move your body.
One self care for college students idea that changed my self care routine was working out. At the peak of the pandemic, I worked out 3-4 times a week and followed some work out plans from YouTubers. Before the pandemic, I enjoyed going to in-person classes and just getting away to work out. There are also so many benefits to exercising that will do wonders for your mental state.
Related: Beginner Yoga Equipment That You Really Need
15. Set boundaries.
Another self care idea for college students is to set boundaries— both with others and yourself. You can tell others “No.” It’s okay. You don’t have to explain yourself to others. A lot of people get placed into awkward and detrimental social situations because of the lack of boundaries. You have a right to speak up when you don’t want to do something. Having boundaries will also create a better sense of knowing who you are and self-respect.
16. Drink water.
Cliché yes. But just do it. Probably the simple self care for college students. Get a nice water bottle to place in your backpack when you’re on campus. There are water stations everywhere. Water will boost your energy levels and can prevent dehydration, which can lead to unclear thinking. Use a water bottle like this one to keep up with your daily water intake.
17. Learn your priorities.
The next self care for college students idea that I recommend is knowing your priorities. It’s so easy to slip into partying or hanging out on a Wednesday night before a huge exam. Before each month or even school year, learn what your priorities are. This may even be goals to some people, or ROI (return on investment), and for economic majors: opportunity costs. But learning what your main priorities are, means that you can implement your boundaries easier.
For example is when I used to have a college blog, I wanted to make money. I was already writing for my school newspaper and getting paid. However, I had to quit organizations such as my university’s HerCampus chapter because it wasn’t as active and meetings ran into another. I also didn’t have time to write for free anymore. I also had to resign from another club related to my university college because it wasn’t returning the benefits and I didn’t like it was working throughout online class.
Long story short: pick what’s important to you. Do you want to have a huge friend group? Or do you want to make it on the President’s List for a high GPA?
18. Don’t procrastinate.
Finally, the second most heard thing in a classroom: don’t procrastinate. I found that most stress I had during college was literally when I was procrastinating. Divide your assignments up into tiny portions and get them done. Don’t downplay writing an essay or completing 2 modules of chemistry homework. Remember, self care is also taking care of yourself, so remember to give yourself and your brain respect by planning things out and doing things ahead of time.
Final FAQ For Self Care for College Students:
How to practice self care in college?
Know what self care you need, like, and have time for. Instead of scrolling for an hour, spend an hour resting or nourishing your body. Give your body time to relax.
If you are super-busy to the point that you can’t think of any way of adding more to your schedule, then try squeezing mini-self activites into your life. I have a quick self care idea post here that can give you some advice.
What are the benefits of self care for students?
The benefits of self care for students is an overall mood booster. Feeling like you have your life somewhat together is a great feeling in college. Your grades will most likely improve. There will be a boost in your energy. You’ll feel overall better.
This blog post was all about college self care and gave some self care ideas for college students!
To learn more about get more self care ideas for college, check out my other self care blog posts:
- How To Use Your Love Language for Self Love & Self Care
- How To Affordably Create Your Own Self Care Kit (Everything You Need)
- 100 Self Care Ideas To Get You Started in Practicing Self Care