October 08, 2018

By Lauren Cook

Did you know that World Mental Health Day was October 10? It is timely considering we often say the “honeymoon phase” of the fall semester has started to wear off. Recruitment and Bid Day have likely gone by and midterms are either starting or are in full swing. Some of us might feel a little homesick, overwhelmed by our to-do list, or flustered thinking about our future as May seems ever closer. It’s no wonder so many of us are struggling with our mental health as class projects, internship applications, and chapter meetings loom overhead. Thus, adding something like self-care into the mix can seem like a non-essential task. But, in truth, it’s during these times of stress we need to practice self-care the most.

What exactly is self-care? It is taking the time to invest in your wellbeing. It’s not selfish. It’s actually an act of compassion towards others as you will be much more present and open to those around you when you have taken care of yourself. I like to envision it like this: have you noticed that when you’re preparing to take off in an airplane the flight attendant demonstrates how to use the oxygen mask? They always say to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping someone else. This is exactly how self-care works. We need to invest in our well-being in order to better help others. So, ask yourself, what makes you feel recharged, well rested, and happy? Take notice of what stands out for you.

Getting Started with Self-Care

  1. Hold, walk or play with your pet
  2. Go for a bike ride
  3. Sing in the car
  4. Visit the water (a lake, river or ocean)
  5. Let go of something
  6. Drink something warm
  7. Be alone (meditate, write in a journal or read a book)
  8. Watch a funny video
  9. Eat your favorite dessert
  10. Travel to a new place
  11. Unplug from your devices
  12. Talk a walk
  13. Plant something
  14. Take a bath
  15. Cook a delicious meal
  16. Take a nap
  17. Spend time with loved ones
  18. Read a book
  19. Lose track of time
  20. Forgive yourself
  21. Learn something new
  22. Try a new hobby
  23. Create something

 

Many people think self-care is simple and some scoff at why we “waste time” talking about it. But if everyone was so great at it, we wouldn’t need to talk about self-care! Clearly, we are not always prioritizing our mental health and we can develop short and long-term problems as a result. In fact, those burdened by stress have a decreased capacity to remember information in their long-term memory and thus have a harder time on their exams, even if they earned good grades during the year. If we’re not careful, negative experiences like these can build up and it can make it easier for depression to surface. Therefore, we have to be intentional about our wellbeing. Tough circumstances are a part of our life so we have to come back with self-care that much harder. For every negative experience we have, we need at least three positive experiences to make up for it.

Remember to give yourself grace as you learn the art of wellbeing. Once you start getting into the habit of self-care, you’ll see how much fun it is. You’ll experience the benefits and not only will begin to feel happier, but the people around you will feel more positive as well. Self-care can even have a contagious effect in our chapters! We each make a difference in the demeanor of our chapters and we can be mindful of whether we want to spread positive or negative energy. If you are feeling well-rested, you’re more likely to meet the day with optimism, kindness and a can-do mentality. Others will gravitate towards your goodwill and they will feel better just by being around you. So here’s to a well-rested rest of the year and stronger, happier chapters as result!