Before I started college, I had this crazy idea that everything was going to be perfect. I just knew that I would get a 4.0 GPA each semester, I would be super fit, and I wouldn’t have to work or be stressed out – ever. When I actually got to college, I quickly realized that my expectations were a bit too high and I began to feel like I was in some sort of a pressure cooker, just waiting to burst. I was so busy trying to keep up with my classes, my friends, and my two jobs, that I had forgotten to take care of and treat myself well. By the end of the semester, I was left with hardly any money in my bank account, a GPA I wasn’t proud of, and some pretty unkind thoughts towards myself. I couldn’t figure out what I had done to make things go so wrong. It wasn’t until I took a step back and realized that in the midst of trying to get good grades and meet all of my unrealistic expectations, I had completely lost who I was, and I had stopped taking care of myself.
I think many of us find ourselves in a place like that at some point in time – especially in college. We get caught up in trying to get good grades and the busyness of life that we place self-care on the back burner. However, if we would just make self-care a priority, everything else would eventually fall into its rightful place. So, how do we do that? For me, the key to self-care started with getting to know myself.
Get to Know Yourself
Every once in a while, I’ll hear someone say, “if they would just get to know me, they would really like me!” I can’t help but wonder if the same is true of ourselves. Maybe if we would just take the time to get to ourselves, we would be more patient, more kind, and more loving to ourselves and others.
In order to get to know myself, I began studying God’s Word and reading about who He says I am. I also took the Myers Briggs Personality test and a few other tests like it where I was able to finally come to terms with my strengths and weaknesses, my likes and dislikes, and who I was in general. I learned that I’m much more introverted than I realized which explained why I had always been so exhausted when I forgot to take time for myself. Another way to get to know yourself is to take advantage of MC’s Counseling Services. This will be helpful for you not just when it comes to getting to know yourself, but in many other aspects of your life as well. I wrote about MC’s Counseling Services a few weeks ago – you can read it here.
Stop and Smell the Roses
No, really. I can’t even tell you how much of a difference it makes when I just take thirty minutes to an hour and sit outside or go for a drive or a walk. Taking just a small portion of your day or even just of your week to “stop and smell the roses” (or any type of flower) will teach you to pause, reflect, and be thankful. Our bodies need rest. We need some time to just sit and let our minds take a break.
If you’re worried you’ll forget to do this, put it on your schedule. Set up a time once or twice a week (or however often you need) where you can go off by yourself and take a minute to chill out. For me, something as simple as a drive off of campus with the windows down and the music up works wonders. When I come back to campus, I’m ready to focus and get back to studying.
Sometimes the inevitable happens and there was just no getting around a really stressful week. If that happens, don’t forget to treat yourself. When I have a crazy week, I almost always have to make a plan to treat myself at the end of the week. No, I don’t really mean you have to buy yourself a batman costume, but I do think you should get some ice cream or go see a movie you’ve been dying to see. Have something set in place as a reward for all the hard work you’ve done during the week. Don’t be afraid to get yourself something nice or to treat yourself to something you’ve been wanting for a while. View it as a present to yourself and you’ll surely see a difference in the way you treat yourself emotionally/mentally.
If there’s one change I’ve noticed since I started making self-care a priority, it’s that everything else in my life has gotten better. I’ve started talking to God more, I’m no longer interested in taking part in things that are detrimental to my health, I love myself and others better – the list goes on.
So, make self-care a priority and ask God to help you. I would love to be a part of a world that prioritizes self-care. We would love ourselves and each other so much better, and we might even be a little happier, too.
As you go into these last several weeks of the semester, remember to stop and smell the roses, to take care of your physical health, to treat yourself, and to be open to the love and kindness that God intended for you to have.
Currently treating myself to a Lindor truffle and an episode of Parks and Recreation,