The term self-care has become a buzzword, and the effects of the COVID pandemic are significant contributors to Americans’ heightened levels of stress, illness and feelings of discontent. Not only are people working longer hours, but many are not taking vacations or breaks. According to Expedia's 2021 Vacation Deprivation study, 64% of Americans described themselves as "vacation deprived". Though many have taken "workcations'’ (traveling to a new destination and working remotely), most (61%) do not consider these to be true vacations. Because of the pandemic, many people have had to cancel vacation plans or use vacation days to care for family members.
No machine, including the human body, is built to perform consistently at peak levels without a pause. This is why self-care is absolutely necessary! To reap the benefits of care, the activity doesn't need to be expensive, but it needs to be intentional. The tips shared address physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual aspects of life. Use as needed, or better yet, use this list as a springboard to create or modify your self-care plan.
Self-care tips for the busy student or adult:
Pursue a course of study that brings joy and falls in line with purpose. If you’re no longer in school, dedicate time to doing things that are relaxing (e.g. gardening, reading, crafting, etc.)
Eat well- A vitamin-rich, balanced diet has many benefits. Now more than ever, it is necessary to do everything possible to promote good health
Quality rest- Going to bed early is preferred. Dr. Matt Walker, head of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that non-REM sleep is deeper and more restorative than REM sleep. In addition, cultivating a consistent devotional life brings balance to hectic lives
Get active- Even if you’re not a gym rat, moving your body consistently helps to reduce stress. Go for a walk, dance, try a new sport–just make sure you’re moving
Grant yourself grace- Ok, so you didn’t get an A, or the presentation flopped this time around. It’s ok. Assess and review the results to see where you went wrong
Healthy relationships- Establishing dynamic, supportive friend groups and quality romantic relationships add value to your lived experience
Build systems- If you focus on and build healthy systems, accomplishing your goals is a sure outcome.
And certainly, if your bank account gives the green light, enjoy a massage, treat yourself to a delectable meal, and/or dip your toes in the ocean. Do not wait until you become ill and are forced to slow down before implementing a self-care plan. Remember, there is a time and place for everything! Self-care isn’t selfish, it is necessary.