Op-ed: Self-care beyond bubble baths and face masks

Students’ schedules will become even busier in preparation for finals as the end of the semester approaches. They may place taking care of themselves at the bottom of their to-do list in these next few weeks. But here in the opinion section we want to encourage a healthy work-life balance and talk about the importance of self-care. To learn more about students’ interpretations of self-care, we asked: “With papers and projects, it can be hard to make time for ourselves and practice self-care. But what does self-care actually look like? How do you define self-care? How do you find ways to make self-care an aspect of your life?”

 

Self-care for me can mean eating a healthy meal, spending time with family, or choosing to stay at home all day. If sitting in your bed, binge-watching Netflix, or going for an hour-long jog relaxes you, then it is a healthy way to take care of yourself. However self-care can be anything that helps you relax and recharge.

As a college student I find it difficult to prioritize self-care. Nonetheless I found a few ways to fit it into my schedule even with only five minutes to spare. Sometimes I just take a minute to breathe—we typically only intake about 60 percent of our full breath, so take a few deep breaths to get closer to that 100 percent. Other times I journal, tracking my mood and writing down things that made me happy that day. I also find prompts online. Some days I take a 10-minute walk or sign up for a fitness class—signing up for the class allows me to hold myself accountable if I don’t go.  

Lastly I practice mindfulness as a form of self-care. I either engage in a 3-5 minute guided meditation through an app or do a mindfulness check where I review what I see, feel, hear, and smell.

—Megan Ellis

Ellis is a sophomore marketing major and Beacon correspondent.

 

We routinely glamorize self-care—well-rested, clear-skinned women indulging in a bubble bath or parading a collection of face masks and bath bombs flood social media and television. But for me self-care means giving myself the time to complete the things I need to do like finishing laundry, organizing, or taking a nap.

I am more aware that I need to take care of myself when my academic life becomes hectic. I purposefully allot specific hours to complete tasks I know I can control at these heightened instances of anxiety. For example I’ll turn on some music and re-organize my closet after a day of revising a paper for class. I’ll immediately feel more accomplished and put together since I can see the results.

The season also dictates which self-care activity I pursue. During the school year I take more time out of my day to sleep. I take little naps in-between classes or sometimes put off an assignment when I know I need to rest. I walk without direction to clear my mind if the weather allows it.

I know my busy schedule makes the notion of a “self-care day” unrealistic. I do a large part of my work virtually as a student journalist and am constantly in the editing process. Taking an entire day off from these responsibilities would be impossible—I would have to ignore notifications on my phone about group projects and article edits. Instead I give myself time before bed to take care of myself after completing my work.

My approach shouldn’t discredit the validity of the stereotypical notion of self-care. But this more lavish style of self-care is just not realistic for me and other busy people, especially college students who juggle so many things at once. Assigning ourselves smaller tasks to maintain our physical and mental health is sometimes more practical.

—Diti Kohli

Kohli is a freshman journalism major and the Beacon’s assistant opinion editor.

 

My bed frame remained broken for two weeks. Instead of taking the logical route and submitting a work order I moved my mattress to the floor of my dorm.

The frame wobbled and slanted slightly when I moved in. Instead of notifying facilities I did what I as a resident assistant advise my residents not to do—I ignored the problem. And I continued to avoid it even when my bed frame broke.

The few people I told about the broken frame insisted I put in a work order—which was entirely reasonable. However, scattered papers covered my desk and counter, and some of my clothes lie piled on my chair. People didn’t understand I could not let someone see my space when it was not put together. That explains why my common room stayed significantly cleaner than my bedroom.

People advised me to practice self-care, to have a night for myself. But I categorize the picture-perfect image of self-care––putting on a face mask, painting my nails as “luxury.” To me that would boil down to avoiding my larger problems, and I wouldn’t fully relax.

Most people don’t discuss the other forms of self-care because they aren’t pretty and fun, but I consider these necessary steps before I partake in this “picture perfect” self-care. I have to make sure I am functioning well and getting work done before I hide from my problems with a movie and ice cream.

I have to organize my life after I assure I am eating, drinking, sleeping, socializing, and addressing all the necessities. This consists of answering dozens of emails, doing laundry, throwing away trash, organizing my calendar, cleaning my room, etc.

This isn’t pretty, but it is essential for me. And I feel great when I check things off my to-do list. It makes the “luxury” self-care feel more special.

After cleaning my room I felt like I controlled my life again. I put in a work order and facilities changed my bed frame. I could thoroughly enjoy myself after that—I hung out with friends, explored Boston, ate out, cut my hair, went to see some plays, and most importantly treated myself.

—Shafaq Patel

Patel is a junior journalism major and the Beacon’s editor-in-chief.

 

Education is important, but so is your well-being. The Beacon would like to remind you to take care of yourself this finals season. Ensure you eat regularly, get a decent amount of sleep, and drink plenty of water.

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