Back to School: Stress and Self Care

Getting back into the swing of things in college is a time. This semester doesn’t look that bad for me. But, with that being said, college is an environment that always springs a bunch of changes on you whether your classes are extremely difficult or not which is why I wanted to write about self-care. Everyone is constantly wondering how to navigate their social lives, maintain their work ethic (when all anyone wants is sleep), and try to be engaged with extra curricular activities. One feature of Georgetown that is unique is the ideology here. Yes, we do have a glorified stress culture in the way that many top universities do, but we are also taught to highly value self reflection alongside ‘cura personalis’ (care for the whole person). In the midst of college life, it’s crucial to remember there is value in preserving yourself outside of your academic life. That isn’t to say disregard responsibilities, but do take time for yourself.

As someone who has struggled with issues regarding mental health in the past, I find that self-care goes beyond a time for relaxing and is really something more significant. Relaxation can certainly be a part of self-care. However, there are also certain tasks or activities people have that can be engaging and not relaxing that help to alleviate mental stresses. I have a tendency to feel restless in whatever city I currently live. As a part of my self-care, I enjoy exploring or allowing myself to be lost in new places. I don’t mean to go somewhere dangerous or wander around blindly. What I’m talking about is finding somewhere that excites you and use it as the starting point for your day. This weekend, I saw my boyfriend for the first time in a month. We picked the Hirshhorn Museum as our starting point and walked around D.C. The Ai Weiwei exhibit was political and futuristic with lego portraits and a wallpaper designed as a part of the show. Thinking about art is a reflective kind of escape. Why do I think what I think about these pieces? Or, what did the artist want to convey that I am missing?

A different self-care tactic I use that can be cathartic is writing. It doesn’t matter what has happened to me during the day, I know that in the end I can sit and record my thoughts. What I write doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but me. I am free to say what I want without worries or repercussions. This has become important to me especially because there are things I don’t always have the courage to say aloud in my day to day life or questions I feel I can’t ask. My writing style tends to be stream-of-consciousness. So whenever the thought hits me I quickly jot down what is on my mind. I don’t journal everyday, but I think it is better that way. This makes it less routine and more effective for me as a pause during my day or mechanism to think out my circumstances. Writing this way gives something to look back on as well. You can see progress in your thinking or relationships you’ve mentioned.

 

It is widely acknowledged that creative outlets are useful not only to produce aesthetically pleasing art, but also allows a degree of expression people often cannot often attain without them. Since I was little I’ve loved to draw whenever I’m inspired by what I see. I’m not the best at drawing (I like to think I’m not the worst either) but that doesn’t stop me from sketching when I feel moved. Sometimes visual images can convey emotion you don’t know how to put in words. I’m an extremely cheesy, affectionate, verbose person. That sounds like the perfect recipe for someone who can express herself verbally right? Although it may come as a surprise, I too can have an issues with trust or being able to say what I need to say. Drawings have been a way for me to show my love or when I am hurt without the feeling that I’ve exposed too much of myself.

 

When I can, travel is also one of the best self-care activities I’ve found. Expose yourself to new perspectives and cultures. Immersing yourself in a new environment is the best way to discover new parts of yourself. Honestly, I know I sound tacky right now, but we have all had that friend who goes abroad and comes back claiming it changed their life. They make talk far too much about their experiences and you may become annoyed, but they’re right to have loved their time abroad. Travel does pluck you out of your world, giving you a new lease on life if you care to explore.

In short, my self care often involves art, good food, and my favorite people the majority of the time. I would be a mess without them. As we go into fall, make sure to figure out what kind of self care you need to practice to get your head on right for the coming year. It doesn’t have to take long and it doesn’t need to be expensive.  

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