Carlow Culture

The Importance of Self-Care

By: Marena Glaister

Self-care may seem like something more-so female-popularized when spoken about at first, however, self-care is extremely important to all people for success and good health.  Many people seem to forget how important self-care really is, but today you’re going to read why it is so important!  

As a college student, I know how busy life can get, and the key to success is taking care of yourself first.  It doesn’t matter the situation; your own success comes first. Think about why you are here at Carlow University in the first place. Maybe you got a great scholarship, maybe your major is your inspiration, whatever your reason may be, think about it.  Think about your goals in life, where you want to be, what will bring you happiness in the future and now, and how you plan to get there.  Now imagine trying to get there without sleep, exercise, or even taking a breath and relaxing for a minute.  Sounds a little difficult, right?  Most college students get so caught up in the stress that comes with the schoolwork and other activities that they forget to take care of themselves or choose to “push it off for later.” Unfortunately, this will actually make the stress an endless loophole that gets harder and harder until the individual crashes by getting sick or losing so much sleep that they sleep through classes.  

Here are five easy ways to give yourself a good start at self-care this semester:  

  1. Sleep! Get at least 6-8 hours, no excuses. Make time for it, your physical and mental health is greatly affected by the amount of sleep you get, and sleep is truly more important than an extra hour to study something you won’t remember in the morning anyways.   
  1. Exercise and eat/drink enough! I know not all people like to exercise, but for those that don’t, just go on a simple walk for 20 minutes a day. Studies show that exercise, even in small amounts, can relieve stress, improve your mood, and can improve sleep quality.  Eating the right foods and enough of those foods is essential, alongside drinking enough water each day.  The recommended water intake daily is at least 8 cups.  Drink up!   
  1. Breathe!  College gets stressful, believe me I know it.  When things get hard, take a step back, look at what you have already done and be proud of yourself for how far you have come.  Breathe, just take a moment, take a deep breath until you feel calmer, and then continue your hard work!  You’re doing great!  
  1. Make time for friends/hobbies! If you are fortunate enough to have most weekends off, go out with your friends and do something fun.  Carlow offers free admission to many places around Oakland. For example, the Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History, the Carnegie Science Center, The Andy Warhol Museum, and Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens all offer discounts with a college ID.  Another thing to do in your free-time is taking up a hobby. Go take pictures, paint a work of art, start a plant collection, learn to play an instrument, or find anything that interests you!  
  1. Finally, self-reflect. Sit back at the end of each day and think about the things you have done.  Think about everything you completed, said, done, and how you can improve yourself from now on.  It’s always good to get to know yourself.   
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As college students, we need to take care of ourselves before expecting success. Angela Harrington, the Executive Director of Health Counseling Services, said, “The human body and mind have some very basic needs, and if we are not attending to those needs, we are not going to be able to do tasks that require higher order thinking, and academics are certainly one of those tasks that require higher order thinking.”  

Harrington refers to the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (pictured above). The largest section on the bottom of the triangle is the section of basic needs that every human must have for survival, and as one goes up the triangle, the needs become more desire-like rather than needs.   

Harrington explains that physical needs are essential to fulfill, but mental health needs are important as well.  

 “If we are not giving our body and mind the things that it needs on a daily basis, which are basic things like food, sleep, water, shelter and social connection, if we are not meeting those needs we are making it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to do the things even harder than that like academics,” Harrington said.    

Harrington explains how students should manage stress.  

“What I would suggest is that this needs to be part of a routine. This needs to be automatically built in before the semester even starts. There are certain things that, and that’s [going to] be different for everybody, the things that fulfill you, the things that are meeting those basic needs for you, so that is a routine.  We don’t [want to] wait until we are in the middle of the semester to have to react then.  When we are talking about self-care, it’s really critical to take a more proactive approach than reactive approach.  When we are in reactive approach, things have already gone off the rails, so to speak, and it’s much harder to come back from that,” she said.

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