The Counseling Center: Let’s Talk About… Making Time for Self-Care

The Counseling Center

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Whew. It’s been a busy week for you too, huh? Maybe you just started studying for midterms, or maybe you have a major paper or project coming up. Perhaps you have that social event you need to attend, or perhaps you have been wanting to make it to your friend’s sports competition. Have you looked at your calendar recently? It is bursting at the seams! So, how to make it all work? You are probably just like the rest of us… overworked, stressed, skipping meals on accident, studying later, and procrastinating for all it’s worth.

Keeping up with this steady stream of life is exhausting. There is too much to do and see, and so little time for it all. As a result, it is a natural reaction to put your self-care needs on hold. Often, by the time we realize we need self-care, we have already been pushed too far. It frequently takes a wake-up call for a person to notice the toll these daily stressors have on their life. Self-care can be easy to overlook, so be proactive and intentionally plan regular self-care activities to re-ground.

What is self-care anyway? Self-care is any activity that a person deliberately takes part in to care for their own mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Although this may sound simple in theory, it can be quite the feat! Often, people think that self-care is only pleasurable and leisurely activities. In fact, self-care activities can range from eating three meals a day, to setting sleep routines, to going out with friends. Research shows that self-care is vital to our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Engaging in self-care behaviors can help reduce distress associated with symptoms of anxiety and depression.

But, where to even begin? Start with these seven quick self-care tips:

First, stick to the basics. The basic activities of daily living can easily get overlooked. Even though school is challenging and constantly changing, establish a rhythm and routine. Make sure to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day, take a shower, put on fresh clothes, and get outside.

Second, take care of your physical health. If you are not feeling well, get a check-up at Student Health. Strive to eat a nutritious and balanced diet. Move your body daily. Head to the Stoller Center or the Forest Grove Aquatic Center. Students get in free and there is a hot tub! Attend a free yoga session in Warner Dance Hall held every Wednesdays and Fridays at 12 p.m. or try a Zumba class in Stoller Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m.

Third, pencil in realistic times for self-care. Self-care does not just happen out of nowhere! Add these commitments to your smartphone calendar, set reminders, or make these plans with a friend. Also, be sure to make realistic self-care activities with the amount of time you can allot in your schedule. Even five minutes can make a difference.

Fourth, be intentional about making the choice to engage in self-care behaviors. If something does not seem like a self-care activity, then it likely is not. Build awareness of what you choose to do, why you choose to do it, what it feels like, and what the outcomes are.

Fifth, set healthy boundaries. Perhaps there are things that you do not like to do or you feel obligated to do. For example, maybe checking your email right before bed isn’t the best for you. Or, try not to answer those texts while you’re in the moment with a self-care activity. Give yourself permission to say no to things that are not good for you.

Sixth, engage in pleasurable activities. Perhaps this is going to the movies, cooking a delicious meal, meeting up with friends, or enjoying some “me” time.

Seventh, take care of your mental health! The Student Counseling Center offers monthly groups to gain skills to re-ground and re-center. The Mindful Coping group could be a great and free option. Our next group starts on Friday, April 12 at 12 p.m. in Forest Grove and Monday, April 8 at 1 p.m. in Hillsboro.

Still struggling? Feel free to schedule a consultation with the Student Counseling Center by calling 503-352-2191 or walking in to schedule. Additionally, students can come by without an appointment at noon Monday through Friday.

Hopefully you will be able to take some time for yourself. If you need an excuse, just say that research said so! Who knows what you might learn if you take a step back, breathe, and give time for a moment of reflection?

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