Happiness and Self-Care

Attending college is often stressful and difficult. There are many things that require much juggling; for example, multiple competing demands of academic deadlines, negotiating with other students -- especially those from different cultures--on team projects, and trying to build and maintain friendships while maintaining strong relationships with your family. As the semester progresses, these demands often become increasingly difficult, and we may forget to take good care of ourselves. However, the better we are at self care, the happier and more productive we will be in school or work or whatever we choose to do in our adult lives.

Make These a Top Priority

Make connections

  • This will take time to develop. Create and maintain contact with a small group of people you can call on for emotional support.
  • Having interpersonal relationships also helps our own personal growth. Learn about each other's cultural similarities and differences, which will help you learn more about your own culture and values.
  • Learn to share your sorrows and happiness with people you trust.
  • Agree to "be there" for each other. Offer advice only when it is asked for. Listen without interrupting. Take turns talking and listening.

Laugh, especially at yourself

  • Look for humor in the things around you.
  • Keep things in perspective.
  • There is evidence that smiling changes your emotions to pleasant and your thoughts to optimism.

Take time to play

  • Do something silly and totally unexpected from time to time, just like you used to when you were a little kid.
  • Remember that play is an activity that you do just because it feels good. All of us deserve to take time to enjoy ourselves, even if it is for a brief 10 minutes during the day.

Nurture a positive view of self

  • Avoid putting yourself down in comparison with others, and acknowledge the positives in you. Each of us is born with unique gifts to offer the world.
  • Catch yourself when you start to think negatively. Actively replace these negative thoughts with a positive view. (A professional counselor can help you with this if you find this difficult to do.)
  • It may be helpful to create a list of affirmations for yourself (e.g., I grow and change; I am true to myself; I express my individuality; I am gentle with myself; I share hugs with people; I am open-minded, etc.)
  • Even if you aren't convinced, fake it until you make it!

Learn to relax

  • Relaxation improves the mind and helps the body heal and recover from stress.
  • Use deep breathing techniques
  • For example, take a deep breath slowly and all the way down to your stomach, hold your breath for a few seconds, and slowly breath out by emptying your stomach of your breath. Tell yourself to "let go of any tension," or "relax," as you breath out. Do this for 5 or 6 times to feel a sense of relaxation.
  • Incorporate peaceful imagery, practice yoga, listen to some relaxation tapes, etc.

Learn to say no

  • Say "I'll think about it" or "how about in 2 weeks," instead of "yes." Before you automatically say "yes" to a request, take some time to ask yourself if it is something you really want to do. It may be helpful to think about your life priorities as well before you answer. Explain to the requester that you are trying to take better care of yourself. You may want to help the requester brain-storm on others ways they can get the help that they are requesting of you.
  • As you become more comfortable saying no to unreasonable expectations, you will discover that you actually have MORE compassion for yourself and feel good about it.

Exercise everyday, even if you only have 10 minutes.

  • Try to follow a routine of daily physical exercise that creates a sweat.
  • Get some fresh air as often as you can.
  • Try building up to a daily 2-mile (or more) walking routine.
  • This will help with your stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms.

Develop an attitude of gratitude

  • In the morning, stop and think of a few things you are grateful for and your entire day will feel more positive.
  • Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable. Instead, see crises and any change as opportunities for growth and part of living.

Pay attention to your mind and body

  • Nourish your body with nutritious food. Eat when you are hungry. Slow down your eating, paying attention to your body signals, and stop when you are full. You may not want to do anything else while you are eating; this way you can pay more attention to your bodily signals and not be distracted by something else.
  • Nurture your spirit. Pray, meditate, practice whatever that fits your beliefs.
  • Sleep and rest when you are tired. Oftentimes, midterms and semester-end projects result in very little sleep. Learn time management techniques so that you are not cramming at these times, and that your sleep pattern is not thrown off.

Come to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) in the Student Wellness Center, Room 300B (third floor), to vent, gain different perspectives, and to learn more about different self care methods. If your academics are negatively impacted, we also have educational counselors who may help with your educational performance, time management skills, etc. Our personal counselors are available for appointments and walk in crisis counseling.  Please call us at 408-924-5910 to schedule an appointment or for more information.