Tag Archives: self-care


Self-Care Sunday: Show You Care

In honor of the ending of Culture of Care Week, I wanted to share their AMAZING video. Throughout the week, actors staged various scenes on campus to see how students would react (while secretly being filmed). The caring responses of strangers in these video clips make my heart swell. When you reach out to care for another, you are caring for yourself by holding true to your values. If you value kindness, respect, and safety, then take opportunities to show it — you’ll improve everyone’s day, not just the person you help. It feels good to care — it feels good to have alignment between your values and your actions — and it does the world good. Thanks for your amazing work, Culture of Care. Learn more about the initiative at care.indiana.edu.


Self-Care Sunday: Recognize What You Do

Sometimes the idea of self-care can be intimidating. What if I don’t have an hour to spend doing yoga and reading fun books and hugging myself? School gets busier next month, and as your to-do list grows longer, you might feel like there isn’t a moment to catch your breath. Although it’s important to try and set aside time for yourself, there are going to be periods in your life where that isn’t really an option, or days where you just forget to. So let’s look at some of the things you already do on a regular basis that you can reframe as self-care activities.

1. Showering or bathing: This is definitely a way to take care of your body. If you’re stressed, turn your shower time into self-care time. If you have a shower radio, put on soothing music. Another great activity for the shower is to visualize all the negative feelings you have, like self-doubt or anger or sadness, wash off you and swirl down the shower drain. And it never hurts to buy a nice body wash or fancy new shampoo and enjoy the scents while you scrub.

2. Eating: Choosing healthy foods for yourself is a great way to practice self-care. For example, I used to drink diet soda for the energy, but eventually realized it was making me feel sick. Now I feel good about taking care of myself when I choose water or iced tea instead. If you eat meals alone, you can use that time as self-care — instead of studying while eating, try reading a fun book or watching a video. 

3. Washing your hands: Every time you wash your hands throughout the day, take a little bit longer than you normally would. Rub your fingers if they’re sore from typing, or scrub under your nails. Use the hand dryer and take the time to practice a few deep breaths.

4. Traveling: When traveling between classes or between work and home, notice the nature around you. As spring is juuuuuust beginning, you might notice that crocuses have started to pop up here in Bloomington. See if you can identify any of the birds you see (I see robins, cardinals, and blue jays around here). Count clouds. Just take the time to be a bit more aware of what’s around you. (Note: Don’t count clouds etc. if you are driving a car. Duh. :P)

These are all tiny little shifts in your daily routine that you can incorporate into your self-care practice. Remember that taking even 5-minute breaks is still a great idea! Hug a stuffed animal, do a 2-minute meditation, stretch, watch a video of a laughing baby, or text a loved one. Hang in there, Hoosiers!

Self-Care Sunday: Take a Break

[Whoops: This was queued to post yesterday while I was driving from New York back to Indiana but something went wrong. Here’s the post one day late!) Welcome back from Spring Break! (groan)

With the end of the semester looming in the near future, it can easily seem like you have to be GO-GO-GOing all the time. But spending hours on end doing homework or chores can make you sluggish and sad, or can lead to an epic stress-induced meltdown (not that I’ve ever had one of those of course).  Taking breaks can give your brain time to mull concepts over subconsciously and increase your mood — thus making you actually more productive overall. Taking a 5 – 10 minute break every 45 minutes or so can really help you get lots done and also take care of you, which is, after all, your priority. 🙂

But what can you do in 5 – 10 minutes? Well, lots…

First things first, SET A TIMER. Use your cell phone or this free online hourglass.
Avoid “starting” a TV show (aka, getting sucked into a 45-minute-episode), taking a nap, or anything that could end up making you feel crummy or sluggish rather than energized.
Here’s a Five-Minute Desk Yoga routine to stretch your muscles relax, and wake up.
Make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and a healthy snack.
Walk around the block.
Listen to a favorite song.
Read a few pages of a fun book.
Watch a funny YouTube video.
Try a calm.com guided meditation (2, 5, or 10 minute options as well as longer ones).
Write out your frustrations or stresses about school in a journal.
Send a quick email to a loved one.
Cuddle a pet or stuffed animal.

What’s your favorite mini-break?

Interesting Links: The Right Way to Take a Study Break, The Psychology of Getting More Done, A Year of Productivity on breaks, Zen Habits on breaks.

Self Care Sunday: Be Mindful of the Media

This week is a little different than usual — more about a shift, a spring cleaning, if you will. With the sun shining and windows open in my apartment, I am definitely ready for spring. (55 degrees, woohoo!)

Have you ever heard the expression “you are what you eat”? As I understand it, if you want to feel healthy, you should eat healthy foods. It’s pretty logical and easy argument to follow. But what about what you read and watch? What about which websites you browse? Would it make sense to say “you think what you see”? Numerous studies show this is true, whether it’s with body image concerns, racist mascots*, or sexism. Now that we know this, we can make healthy choices for our mind the same way we make healthy eating choices for our bodies. This can mean anything from choosing movies with positive female role models, to switching from violent video games to sports and racing games, or picking up a novel instead of a Cosmopolitan magazine. Just being conscious of the way that the media effects you can make a big difference. If you notice yourself getting bogged down by anti-gay slurs in your music, or impossibly beautiful women in the movie you’re watching, take a step back and ground yourself in reality. Read about some good news or reflect on the people in your life who are beautiful or strong to you — and notice that they don’t look anything like the pop stars you see on TV. Be careful about what you put in your mind, and make the best choices for yourself. 

Take care of yourselves, Hoosiers!

* Much of this research and advocacy work comes from IU professor Dr. Jesse Steinfeldt. GO HOOSIERS!

Self-Care Sunday: Create Your Space

Space is an important element. You probably know this on some level: is it easier to work in bed or in the library? (Okay, you might say bed and I’d understand — but you see what I mean.) Now obviously this varies tons for everyone, but I know that for myself, the surroundings I am in greatly effect how I feel emotionally, how productive I am able to be, and how energized I am. Space can also be used in a comforting way. And for many people, it’s important to have some space that is all your own — even if it’s just your bed.

Having a clean, organized, and personalized space to live, study, and hang out can make a world of difference to your mood and ability to cope. Here are some simple ideas to turn your dorm room, crummy student apartment, or bedroom at home into a haven:

1. Clean it up.
Blast some music & bite the bullet. My tips: Make the bed first. Bring a plastic bag and toss out trash as you find it. Break it into categories: first gather all the clothes, toss dirty things in the hamper and fold or hang clean clothes. Then tackle books, then movies, then makeup, whatever it is that gets messy. Doing it in chunks means a rush of accomplishment for each category you finish. (Pro Tip: If you’re having trouble getting motivated to clean, invite a friend to stop by in 1 hour. Now you have a reason to tidy!) If you need to wipe down surfaces, try just a mixture of white vinegar and water (about half and half) — it is super cheap and very effective. The vinegar smell dissipates quickly, so don’t worry. (If you need more ideas about serious cleaning, check out this website with tons of ideas for eco-friendly, safe, and cheap cleaning
2. Decorate.
There are plenty of inexpensive ways to make your room unique and elegant. My go-to is thrift store photo frames + free printables. For an inexpensive frame and one page of color printing ($1 at IUB libraries), you can get some great looking artwork. Be sure to search for free printables in whatever topic fits your personality — for example, I love finding Harry Potter printables, ’cause I’m a BIG HP fan. This website has great positive inspirational printables and here is a link to 101 free printables. (Some are things like recipes but a fair few are wall art!) You can also tack up a map of a place you love or want to visit, type out a quotation you love in a pretty font, or try about a bazillion other ideas.
3. Personalize.
Photos of your friends, family, or pet turn a room from a nice space into a YOU space. Make prints at a store like Target or CVS and display them in a cool shape like a heart or your first initial. (See what I mean here.)
4. Set the mood.
It’s not just the visual appearance of tidiness & pleasant decorations that make a space — it’s the other stuff, too. Sounds, smells, texture. (So if the carpet is grubby and gross, vacuum and then enjoy the sensation of a clean floor.) Try putting on music or background noise — http://www.pandora.com is a great place to listen to free music to fit any mood, and www.classyfireplace.com transforms your dorm into a comfy living room with a roaring fire and quiet jazz. (Scroll down on the blog to find a post specifically on music for more ideas.) If you’re allowed to light a candle where you are, use a soothing scent like vanilla or lavender to add a calming element to your room (if you live in the dorms, check with your RA first!!). And if you can’t have a candle, don’t worry! Try a plug-in, scented air freshener, battery-operated scented candle, or even just opening the window or bringing in some flowers.

Now that your space is clean & bright, hopefully it will be easier to get your homework done and then relax and take care of yourself. You deserve it!

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Self-Care Sunday: Helping Others

I know what you may be thinking. Isn’t self-care Sunday about caring for…yourself? And it’s true: that is the idea. And I do strongly support the truth that especially if you are in a career where you help others who are in distress (like a doctor, a therapist, an aid worker, etc.), you need to talk time for focusing on just yourself. But at the same time, I know that giving back can be a powerful way of giving to yourself. Giving back can give you a warm glow inside. It can give you a sense of purpose. It can be a great way to meet other like-minded people. And like most things we discuss in the self-care posts, it can be tailored to any interest and any schedule. Are you stuck at home with a terrible cold (like me), but still want to help someone out? I have ideas for that. Are you looking to find an activity to get you out of your dorm every week? We have that, too. Using the wonderful search tool of the internet, I’m confident we can find a way to give back that matches you well.

Helping out from the comfort of your bed. Sound too good to be true? It can be done. Here are just a few ways:

1. FreeRice.Com. This is a fantastic website where you can sharpen your mind while donating food to the hungry. Go to freerice.com/category to customize what type of questions you want to answer, from multiplication tables to geography to quotations from literature. Then just play the simple quiz game and watch as more grains of rice are added to your bowl for every correct answer. It really works, too — rice is distributed to the hungry via the World Food Programme, the world’s largest anti-hunger organization.
2. Click To Give sites. These websites pay a teeny amount for every daily click. It may not seem like much, but the clicks from different people each day really add up. You can “click” for a variety of different causes such as literacy, hunger, and rescuing animals. You can even enter your email address and receive a daily reminder to visit and click.
3. GoodSearch.Com is a search engine that donates 1 cent for every web search you do to a cause of your choice. Easy, simple, and just requires switching out your Google homepage for this website.

Here are some more ideas — the kind for which you might have to put on pants and even leave your room. 🙂

4. Donate old clothes. Do any of you have too many clothes in your closet? (I do! *raises hand*) Go through them and set aside a box of still-wearable stuff that just isn’t “you” anymore — whether it doesn’t fit you, isn’t your style, or you’re just tired of it. A good pro-tip for cleaning out closets is to look at the item and think, if I saw this on a rack today, would I buy it? If the answer is no, set it in the donate pile. Once you’ve set out clothes, pick somewhere to donate them! If you have professional women’s clothing, head to My Sister’s Closet. This is a fantastic local organization that helps women get interview-ready so they can get jobs & get back on their feet.
5. Look through your pantry or go grocery shopping. Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard or Monroe County United Ministries (MCUM) are both good places to donate food or toiletries. MCUM even provides a shopping list to take with you to the store if you have an extra $10 to spare.

If you’re feeling ready for a time commitment, there are many volunteer opportunities in Bloomington to help get you involved and connected to our community. The City website has a search engine that can help you find the perfect volunteer job for your needs and interests. Other great ways to find volunteer jobs? Well, any of the above organizations listed need more than just donations — they need volunteers, too. And often faith communities have connections to volunteer jobs, or their own programs, so check out options at your synagogue, church, or mosque.

If you’re feeling like a big change — a journey — IU can help you there, too. This website has tons of ways to find service projects abroad — amazing opportunities to travel, see the world, meet new people, & make a change for the better.

Remember that all levels of helping out are a good and helpful thing. If you are struggling to keep up with your schedule and can’t add 2 hours a week at the food bank, that’s okay. And if you want to spend your summer traveling to another country and helping orphans, that’s fantastic. Don’t feel that you need to push yourself past the breaking point just to be a good person. You’re a good person just as you are, and we all move through different seasons of life. Maybe now is a time for you to focus on school, or on recovering from a harm that was done to you, or on your job or relationships or family. Those are all ways to better the world. Make sure to take care of yourself first — that’s the most important thing.

Happy Sunday, readers!

Self-Care Sunday: Time Management

It’s one thing to set aside a chunk of time each weekend to take care of yourself. But if you spend the rest of your week running around panicking because you’re behind on your assignments, you’re not going to feel very relaxed.

To be totally honest, I am writing on this topic because I’ve been having a hard time with time management lately. It’s a problem everyone has. College is a busy time with classes, jobs, extracurricular activities, family time, and a social life — it’s no wonder we struggle to balance it all. Each semester brings a new schedule and adjusting to that schedule can be tough. First off, some basic “rules” about time management:

  1. Everyone is different. For example, I am a morning person — so I’ve been really trying to keep to a schedule of early-to-bed, early-to-rise. Then, I get work done in the morning. My fiancé is a night owl, so he stays up until midnight or so to get work, and sleeps in more. Both of these things are A-OK and equally valid choices!
  2. It is okay to make mistakes. Sleeping through your alarm and missing one class or forgetting a homework assignment once in a while will not ruin your academic career.
  3. Your health & well-being are more important than your grades. When my father passed away my sophomore year of college, I ended up taking an Incomplete in a course and finishing it later. Prioritizing family time & time to mourn was the right choice for me at the time, and that is A-OK.
  4. In 10 years’ time, whether or not you got an A in your Ecology class is really not going to matter.
  5. There are services and people who can help you.

Being at a major research university like IU comes with a lot of great benefits. Not only do we have an amazing library system, but there are specialized support services for time management as well. Often people forget that libraries involve librarians. Librarians are not just people who stand around and shush you. As a matter of fact, librarians have advanced degrees in things like research. If you are working on a major research paper, you can meet with a librarian who specializes in your subject and he or she can help you find resources. Learn more about research services here. Counselors at CAPS can help with time management, too. As a student you have 2 free counseling sessions per semester: use them! This website has tips as well as information about how to schedule an appointment with a CAPS counselor. If you struggle with writing, try visiting the Writing & Tutorial Services in Wells Library. The Student Academic Center has classes and also provides free one-on-one meetings to get a sense of your learning style and help you plan for success.

A lot of time management has to do with experimenting to find out what works best for you. Some people love flashcards; others do best with long typed-out review sheets. For some students, complicated note-taking systems prove invaluable and others just write down whatever they can in a composition book. Depending on how you learn, you might benefit from reviewing your textbook extra before a test, or from watching free videos on the Khan Academy website (this has TONS of math & science resources as well as history and economics — my fiancé uses it all the time to brush up on math!). Some people do best studying in little bursts throughout the week and others like to go put in 6 hours at the library every Saturday morning.

So what works for me? Early mornings. Clear goals, which I outline using this free printable (just as good in black-and-white as in color). Relaxing music from my Pandora account in the background, and tasty snacks when I’m working on a big assignment. I also often get ideas and inspiration from this amazing and thorough study website. I love long review sheets & highlighters.

Other tips? Start today. If you feel behind and swamped, don’t say “I’ll start a schedule on Monday.” Just plan out your studying today, and be sure to schedule in blocks of NOTHING time. Not fun activities (but schedule those too) — just time when you can veg out on Facebook or Pinterest or play video games or whatever. Everyone needs time for their brain to go mushy a bit.

Take care of yourselves & reach out for help if you need it!

p.s. Getting an assignment done ahead of time is the best feeling EVER. If you want an easy high, go cross one assignment off your list a week before it’s due. You’ll feel great.