It's always a pleasure to get other points of view from other people that want to uplift others. Indira Midha from Indira's Inner Beauty whose mission is to "encourage others to become empowered and make it her mission to empower others who will hopefully go on to empower others" is sharing her thoughts on self-care for college women. This topic is important because college, in general, is stressful and without great support and an adequate self-care routine it can seem to spin out of control. I hope Indira's tips can get you started on taking care on yourself.
Guest Post by Indira's Inner Beauty
Engaging in self-care is one of the most crucial parts of taking initiative to positively nurture your mental health. I am a firm believer that nobody is responsible for your mental health but you. It is extremely important to have loved ones support and guide you, but the only person who can look in the mirror every single morning and decide that you'll be taken care of it you. As somebody who attends a rigorous university full-time, works for several publications, and runs a blog completely independently, I can attest to the challenges of making time for self-care. I often find myself feeling guilty for taking a breather when I have a million and seven responsibilities on my plate, especially time sensitive ones. The catch is, if you aren't taken care of and in good shape mentally, you can't effectively tackle your endless to-do list. Here are my tips on engaging in self care while in college, and what I do to keep myself mentally well.
- Sleep enough and at a reasonable time. This one is extremely important. I am a firm believer that appropriate sleep is the foundation to good health. For me, it meant making sure that I turned off the Netflix at a set time each week night, and speeding up my morning routine. By committing to sleeping every day from 12am to 8am, I was extremely well-rested this past semester. This resulted in my mood elevating, and my focus being sharper than when sleep-deprived in previous semesters. Some people aren't willing to give up their morning makeup and hair routine for sleep, which is definitely very understandable. You do you, girl! For me personally, spending the hour sleeping instead of spending it on hair and makeup, like I would in high school, was life-changing for me. The extra sleep made me personally happier than the makeup did.
- If you aren't a big workout person, like me, there are simpler ways to engage in physical activity. In my younger years, I loved participating in volleyball, tennis, and track & field at school. Now, if you tell me to run I will probably scream at you. However, I have realized that there are huge benefits to engaging in physical activity. My two favorite ways of doing this are through walking and dancing. My campus is huge and widely spread out, so I took it upon myself to walk everywhere when the weather permitted. This is an extremely simple way to just move. Before you know it, you'll have racked up a few miles! It may not be some tough workout, but it's proven to be good for your heart. Taking the stairs is a quick burst of a workout, if you have the habit of running up and down them like I do. Also, dancing is a very fun activity that I have recently really started to enjoy. I have the same amount of rhythm in my body as a potato, but I have so much fun. I am not into college parties, but I do love going to the Latin dance nights hosted by my university. I love having "dance parties" with my friends in my room. It's awesome for your physical health to get your blood pumping, and also for your emotional well-being to just put on a fun playlist of songs and dance around. It's not some scary commitment like going to spinning classes four times a week, or running miles every day. Whatever physical activity works for you, do it!
- Easy on the coffee. Coffee is a stimulant, so while it may help you wake up, it is proven to elevate anxiety in those who already deal with it. Being one of those people, I have decided to switch to green tea. I have gotten to a point where my anxiety is barely present in my life, except for when I have a big cup of coffee. Many people will disagree with this approach, but I say save the coffee for emergencies only.
- Give yourself something to look forward to at the end of every day. This is quite simple, really. You have to bribe yourself to get through the long day, many times. Let me spill a secret: that's okay! I like to reserve anywhere between half an hour and two hours in my evening for me. I often use that time to get dinner and catch up with a friend, watch Netflix in bed, schedule a FaceTime date with a family member or friend who isn't at school with me, or paint my nails. These are things that make me happy. I love staying in touch with my loved ones, I love TV, and I like to have my nails painted because that prevents me from biting them. These are simple things that really help me get through the tough parts of the day. Having this time to unwind from school and work really helps me prepare for good sleep with a happy soul. Also, following this pattern, I like to give myself something to look forward to at the end of the week. I like to make fun and exciting plans the weekend after a rigorous work-week. This helps me keep myself in going and not feel like I'm drowning in responsibilities. Some things that I like to do on weekends are check out new restaurants with friends, go to a concert or performance (there are tons of awesome free or cheap ones on college campuses!), or have movie nights with friends and order takeout!
- Put it in a digital list. For me, putting all of my responsibilities in a list is essential. I have so many things to do, and tight deadlines; I can't afford to forget things. I recommend keeping a running to-do list either in Word or on the notes app in your phone. Include all categories: school, work, blog, personal, errands - anything. This saves me from anxiety because I have my responsibilities sorted out and in front of me. Also, I recommend doing this digitally because you can have your list with you wherever you go, and it is so much easier to edit it (as opposed to on a paper with a pen).
- Make time to keep in touch with your loved ones. This one is huge for me - I am always on the phone, FaceTime, or WhatsApp with my family members and friends from home. I am a very family-oriented person, so many people don't need to do this as often as I do, but I make sure to call or FaceTime with my mom at least twice a day, with my dad once a day, with my sister and niece once a day, with my best friend from home every few days, with my nephew once a week, with my aunt once a week, with my grandpa once a week, and with my cousin once a week. I also text and WhatsApp with them all the time. This may seem like a lot to some people, but with my family being spread out across the world for my whole life, I've always sworn by this. Interacting with my loved ones makes my heart happy, and theirs as well. Communication with loved ones is so healthy and therapeutic, no matter how little or how much.
- Find your place where you get things done, and find your place where you unwind - but make sure they aren't the same place. This is more of a productivity tip, but I found it extremely helpful to walk into the communications library or my favorite café, because my brain would go immediately into work mode. For me, my bedroom has always been my sanctuary. I make sure that I have lots of blankets and pillows to ensure optimal coziness. It was also extremely helpful to be able to walk into my room and automatically feel comfortable. I was very lucky to have a roommate who I became best friends with, so my room could be my safe place. Many people don't have that luck though. If it can't be your room, find a place where you can just walk in and feel comfortable. My friends found that safety in certain coffee shops, local parks, or dorm lounges after trying a few options out.
- Eliminate (or cut down to the bare minimum) any interactions or people who make you feel negative feelings. This is so simple, yet so hard. But, after having made friends with some people who made me feel un-empowered, insecure, and unloved, cutting off or limiting those connections really changed my moods in a 180 degree manner. It also really improved the way I was feeling about myself and talking to myself in my head. There are 7 billion people in the world, we don't need to hold on to those who make us feel small, insufficient, or unworthy. There are many absolutely lovely people who can be supportive, positive friends. Look for those.
- Find songs and TV shows that you can lose yourself in and can help uplift you when you're down. This is essential for me. My small playlist of about 5 songs that uplift me has worked miracles for me. Sometimes you find the words you need to hear in music, and when you find a song that makes you feel this way: keep it. A few of my favorites are Love Me More by Maggie Rose (about self-love), Beautiful Flower by India Arie (also about self-love and empowerment), and The Climb originally by Miley Cyrus, covered by Sundance Head (about overcoming and embracing challenges). Also, I think it is very important to have a funny, light-hearted TV show that you can completely lose yourself in and giggle with to de-stress. For me it's Friends, because I grew up watching it and it provides humor with which you don't have to think too much. After a rough day, just 22 minutes with Rachel, Ross, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, and Joey can help me feel better. Finding a self-care/unwinding show is a good way to help you remove yourself from stressful situations for a bit.
I hope that these tips and suggestions can help you the way that they helped me! Please let me know if you try out any of these things, or if you have any other tips of this sort! I can be reached on Twitter and Instagram at @midha_ind, on Facebook at Indira's Inner Beauty, or via my blog, indirasinnerbeauty.com. I look forward to hearing from you!
Love and best wishes, Indira
Indira Midha of indirasinnerbeauty.com is a 19-year-old blogger and college student who studies media at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Indira is very passionate about social activism, self-empowerment, and helping young girls through the challenges of adolescent female life. Please be sure to check out her blog and social media links!