5 Ways to Prioritize Self-Care for Community College Students
College is stressful. Understatement of the century, right? Sometimes everything seems impossible to juggle, especially if you’re also balancing a full-time job and/or family responsibilities. But remember, the most important thing in your life is YOU. Here are some great ways to make sure you’re taking care of yourself on top of whatever else you have on your plate.
Care for Your Body
We’ve all heard it a million times, but it never stops being true – taking care of your body is a key part of taking care of your mind. Make sure you pack a snack for intense study sessions, drink lots of water, try to fit in enough sleep, and get your body moving as much as you can. Many colleges have resources that can help with this, including on-campus food pantries, gyms or discounted gym memberships, and walking paths around campus.
Acknowledge Your Emotions
Back-to-school anxiety is perfectly normal. Trust me, we know. Especially in this cultural climate, many students are feeling extremely overwhelmed. It may be tempting to bottle it up and ignore how you’re feeling, but that is a top cause of burnout among college students. It’s pivotal to learn to identify how you’re feeling and prioritize your own wellness – even above other things that are extremely important. Start by familiarizing yourself with the warning signs of burnout (e.g. exhaustion, lack of motivation, irritability, brain fog, anxiety, depression). If you notice these symptoms building up – take action.
Learn Coping Skills
In order to succeed despite numerous stressors, learning coping skills is pivotal for college students. However, many students have no idea where to start. This article has a few great suggestions to get you started. You can find dozens of helpful worksheets and activities used by therapists and counselors here, but nothing beats an actual trained mental health professional.
Therapy might seem scary, but if you’re facing mental health challenges that may impact your education or social life, it never hurts to talk to someone before things get really bad. You can reach out to your insurance provider, mental health services offered by your college campus, or find a counselor through private companies like BetterHelp.
Take Time for What You Love
Putting all your time into coursework and outside responsibilities can wear on your mental health. To avoid that, make sure you make some time for you. Whether you love creating art, hiking trails, spending time with friends or family, or curling up with a good book, set aside at least some time to remind yourself why you’re putting all this work in. Just a few hours of relaxation can go a long way in improving your overall mood and mental health.
Reduce Your Workload
Sometimes, no matter what you do, it can feel like you’re always falling behind. Maybe you have family responsibilities that take precedence, or you’re juggling a full-time job to help pay for school. Just remember, everyone goes at their own pace, and reducing your workload may be something to look into.
Going part-time to community college may be a better choice if your personal responsibilities are too much to balance. This can reduce tuition costs and free up some time for you to focus on other important aspects of your life, while granting you the ability to practice self-care. It may be tempting to get your degree as quickly as possible, but it’s important to consider whether it’s worth the burnout. Not everyone graduates within the two-year time frame, and that’s okay!
Another great way to reduce your workload is to look into scholarship opportunities. If you have some extra funding, you might be able to cut back on the amount of work you have to do to pay for your classes and free up some time for yourself.
Those are five ways to prioritize self-care while attending community college, but there are so many more! Remember – the most important thing in your life that you need to take care of is you, before you can take care of anyone else.