How You Can Be in College AND Care for Yourself
It's no secret that college is associated with lack of sleep, wisdom, and self-care. However, that doesn't have to be true for you.
In a world that is constantly pushing us to achieve more, do more, and be more...I challenge you to take a pause...ask yourself, "Am I caring for myself?".
You CAN be in college and care for yourself.
You don't have to listen to diet culture. You don't have to weigh yourself. You don't have to live in fear of the "freshman 15"/gaining weight (fun scientific fact: it is normal to gain weight; see here, here, here)
When I first started college, I felt like I was Dorothy getting caught in the whirlwind of the tornado. The "evil witch" sent friend problems, school stress, and feelings of loneliness. My dreams seemed so far away and I received many confusing and conflicting lines of advice.
For lack of better words, college hit me like...
And then there's homesickness, that left me like...
It can be extremely hard to balance everything--school, friends, self-care, and job/internships, just to name a couple!
BUT, you can!!
It's all about priorities. You can't say, "yes!" to everything.
In college, there is an obscene amount of diet culture and negative self-talk. People telling us to work out more, eat "healthy", make __ GPA, get a job by ___...UGH! It goes on and on. And that can leave us feeling like...who do we believe?
BUT! You are in control of your life, and darling you do you! Don't let anyone tell you your worth.
What do you value? And I don't mean, what do your parents want you to value,what do magazines want you to value, what do well-meaning or not so well-meaning friends what you to value...I mean what do YOU value?) What is important to you? Are you living your life based on those values?
Let me explain:
I used to circle my days around exercise and food..trying to avoid foods that made me nervous and feeling guilty if I didn't work out (this is not the way we are meant to live and this CAN be healed! see post here :) )
BUT...I believe there is SO MUCH MORE to life than food and exercise! I value SO many things before than that. Family, friends, fun experiences and memories, mental health, peace, less anxiety, more self-care, more discovering who I am and what I like, my relationship with the Lord...THESE are more important.
This sounds grotesque, but it really helped me to determine if I was living within my values:
When you are on your death bed (I know, I'm sorry), what do you want to remember and what would you regret?
-Would you be there, thinking to yourself, "Wow, I shouldn't have eaten that" or "I wish I ate less dessert". Heck to the no! You would probably think something like, "I want my loved ones to know I love and care about them". You would probably want to spend your last time on earth enjoying all the life you can with the people you love.
The thing is...we don't know when we are going to die. It's scary, but it's true. You know the saying, "Live like you're dying"? Well, you can put that into practice here! Why not live according to your values now? When you look back on the past 5 years, do you want to have memories clouded with food and exercise anxieties and thoughts or do you want to have meaningful, heartfelt, fully present memories with the people you love. :)
Maybe you feel like you don't have many of those relationships. I want to ask you this question: Are your exercise and food rules inhibiting those relationships? If you release those rules and rigidness, I can tell you with full confidence and fun experience that you will have more brain space and time for those relationships that you desire.
I hear this a lot in college (and maybe you do too!): I didn't have time to eat.
OKAY if that is a problem in your life, you NEED to say no to some things. Eating is absolutely vital to living and existing--not to mention it increases our brain and physical capacity. An empty stomach cannot fuel the brain and the body!!
Make eating a priority. Bring snacks with you to class. Don't let yourself leave the house in the morning without breakfast or at least packing something for on the way. Allow yourself to sleep. Just because you are in college, doesn't mean you have to pull all-nighters on the regular and rely on coffee to keep you going (not that I don't like coffee because I do but our body needs more than caffeine--it needs sleep!). Our bodies (and minds) also need rest.
Just sitting and being. For me, since I am an extrovert (get my energy from being around people), this is really hard and even scary. But, it so necessary to mental health.
Let yourself feel. Let yourself be. Let yourself be cared for.
Slow down. Take a breath. Are you eating enough, sleeping enough, caring for yourself, allowing yourself to feel and be?
What can you do to help yourself be cared for? What do you need to do to be sure you are fueling your body and eating at least every 2-3 hours? What can you do to be sure you get adequate sleep? What can you do to care for yourself and limit anxiety? What do you need to say, "No" to?
You don't have to live in the all-consuming tornado forever. You can be free.
You just have to allow yourself to make those choices to get there. What are YOU going to implement to care for yourself more? Sound off in the comments below! :)