Tips for Self-Care in College

College is often described as a transformative journey filled with a blend of enjoyable and challenging experiences. While socializing, gaining new perspectives, and other positive aspects of college life can be highly rewarding, academic demands, studying, and networking can also contribute to increased stress levels. One effective way to manage this stress and enhance overall resilience is by adopting effective self-care practices. This article explores essential self-care strategies that college students can benefit from.

Self-care that works

Self-care encompasses behaviors that promote both mental and physical well-being. It’s important to recognize that while many self-care activities are beneficial in moderation, excessive indulgence can become detrimental.

For instance, occasional socializing can significantly reduce stress and enhance well-being, making it a positive form of self-care. However, excessive partying that interferes with academic responsibilities and other obligations is more likely an avoidance tactic, representing poor self-care.

Self-care includes activities that may not be enjoyable for everyone, such as avoiding procrastination, completing unpleasant tasks, or making difficult decisions. These actions contribute to personal well-being, even if they aren’t inherently pleasurable. It’s crucial to avoid the misconception that self-care is solely about enjoyable activities, as this can lead to adopting ineffective or harmful behaviors that provide only short-term relief or none at all.

Below are some self-care practices supported by strong scientific evidence:

The big three

Not all self-care activities are equally impactful. Experts often highlight the “Big Three” self-care behaviors as foundational for overall well-being and resilience.

  • Sleep: Adequate sleep is crucial for both physical and mental health. Lack of sleep can impair concentration and cognitive function. Similarly, poor sleep quality or insufficient sleep reduces energy levels needed for other self-care activities.
  • Diet: College life demands energy, making regular and nutritious eating essential. It’s important to meet your body’s daily caloric needs with a balanced diet. Avoiding overeating or consuming unhealthy foods is crucial, as these habits may provide short-term stress relief but can harm long-term well-being.
  • Exercise: Few activities rival exercise in its ability to alleviate stress, boost self-esteem, and enhance mood. Exercise offers immediate benefits like mood improvement and stress reduction, while regular physical activity over time significantly improves overall well-being.

These foundational self-care practices are supported by strong evidence for their positive impact on mental and physical health.

Positive social interactions

College offers a wealth of social opportunities, but balancing a vibrant social life with academic responsibilities can be a challenge. It’s crucial to engage in social activities responsibly, avoiding overindulgence that could lead to distraction or procrastination. Research indicates that positive social interactions enhance stress resilience, aiding in the management of college pressures.

However, there are two significant challenges associated with social self-care. Firstly, it’s important not to use parties, hangouts, or other social events as a means to avoid responsibilities. Social distractions can easily become tools for procrastination. Secondly, the quality of social interactions matters. The benefits of socializing are most pronounced when interacting with friends who genuinely care about your well-being. Engaging in social competition, navigating cliques, or focusing solely on social status may not provide the same positive effects.


Maintaining a neat living space and workspace can greatly enhance mental health. Staying organized simplifies tasks, especially during busy periods, and fosters a sense of calm and clarity.

Organizational habits like keeping tidy may seem simple but are highly effective forms of self-care. They contribute significantly to mental well-being by promoting efficiency and reducing stress associated with clutter and disarray.


Maintaining a positive mindset is crucial during college, especially given the demanding workload that can sometimes foster self-doubt. Introducing positive self-affirmations into your daily routine can be a powerful tool.

Positive self-talk has been linked to improvements in self-esteem and overall well-being. Celebrate your accomplishments by acknowledging your efforts and successes. Equally important is recognizing and correcting any tendencies to criticize or speak negatively about yourself. Cultivating a supportive inner dialogue can bolster resilience and contribute to a healthier mindset throughout your college journey.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Incorporating mindfulness and meditation into your daily routine can be a potent form of self-care for college students. Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment, without judgment, which can effectively reduce stress and anxiety. Meditation, meanwhile, fosters deep relaxation and a calm state of mind.

Together, these practices can improve focus, emotional regulation, and resilience to daily pressures. Even dedicating a few minutes each day to these practices can yield substantial benefits. Beginners can find guidance from various apps and campus resources. Consistent practice builds a psychological buffer against the stress commonly experienced in academic settings.

Technology Detox

In today’s digital age, college students enjoy unprecedented connectivity, yet this constant engagement can also contribute to stress. Implementing a technology detox as part of your personal care routine can effectively counteract screen fatigue and social media overwhelm.

Setting aside dedicated time to disconnect from digital devices promotes healthier sleep patterns, fosters deeper face-to-face connections with peers, and enhances overall well-being.

For those seeking to establish and maintain self-care routines as habits, seeking guidance from a therapist or mental health professional can be beneficial. They can provide personalized support in adjusting self-care practices and building consistent routines. For resources on finding a suitable therapist, consider exploring articles from platforms like BetterHelp, which specialize in online therapy services.

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