Tag Archives: balance

Me, Myself and I! Why Self-Care is Essential, and How to Practice It


See if this situation sounds familiar: On my day off last week, I knew that I should read for class, start writing a paper, do some work for a club I belong to, finish a task for work, and then get to bed early. I was already tired and frazzled from the week so far, but I had a busy weekend ahead, so I wanted to get a lot of work done that day.

Typical college day, right? We’re pulled in many different directions; classes, work, clubs and activities can feel overwhelming very quickly. But there is a mindset that can help us feel more balanced and relaxed: self-care.

self-care-calvin-n-hobbesHere’s what I actually decided to do on my day off: I slept late, made some tea, read a magazine, started reading for class, got tired of the reading and took a nap, cooked an actual dinner, and then finished the reading. The next day, I felt more prepared to tackle the work that was left, and I felt more “at peace” about what I could and couldn’t get done.

Did I do all the things that I thought I “should” do? Nope. But did relaxing still benefit me? Absolutely!

What is self-care?

Self-care is just what it sounds like: taking care of yourself. It sounds simple, so why is it so hard to practice? It’s because self-care requires us to do three things, which don’t always come naturally:

  1. Be aware of what we need in order to feel better.
  2. Understand that it’s okay for us to take care of ourselves.
  3. Commit to doing the things that make us feel better, on a daily basis.

Let’s break these things down:

  1. Being aware of what you need can be a very enlightening experience! Sometimes your body tells you very clearly what you need (like sleep if you’re tired, food if you’re hungry), but sometimes you have to look a little closer. A few examples:
    • Does eating a certain type of food energize you, or make you feel sluggish?
    • Does being physically active amp you up, or calm you down?
    • Do you need some time alone to recharge, or do you feel best when you’re with a group of people?
    • How much sleep do you usually need to feel OK the next day?

Self-awareness requires us to pay attention to how we feel, which can feel strange if you haven’t done it before. But once you start paying attention, it’s amazing how much you can learn about yourself!

  1. Once you know a few things that help you feel better, what’s next? The second step requires self-value. Self-value or self-worth is the idea that you feel as if your presence plays a valuable role in the world around you. It is very easy to let other people’s needs and expectations of us (professors, supervisors, co-workers, classmates, family, and even friends) seem like they shouldWhile being responsible, generous, and team-oriented are still important, it’s just as important to help yourself feel your best. It’s like the safety notice on an airplane, telling you to put on your oxygen mask before helping someone else; to be able to do anything else, you have to keep yourself safe!

Take my example. If I stayed tired and frazzled, I probably wasn’t going to do my work nearly as well as if I was relaxed or refreshed. So I might as well attend to my needs, knowing that in the end I’ll be better prepared for whatever else I have to do.

  1. The last piece of self-care is making a commitment to practicing it. The good news is, you’re going to feel better when you practice it! The not-so-good news is, it’s hard to do, even when you really want to do it. To use the airplane example, it’s very easy to help someone else put on their mask first, especially if you’re used to doing things that way. Sometimes, it can also feel like something you do for self-care is just one more thing on your way-too-long to-do list.

It takes a commitment, one day at a time, to remember to put yourself first. It takes a commitment to change your perspective. Self-care doesn’t have to be a task to get done. Self-care is a tool to help you feel better about yourself, and to help you perform that much better at all the other things you do in life.

There’s one big thing to make clear: self-care should not be confused with procrastination. They may seem similar, but self-care is a proactive effort to nurture yourself; procrastination is an avoidance tactic.

So the next time you’re in the middle of a jam-packed week, take a few moments to think about what you need in order to feel better. Then think about whether you’re worth it (here’s agy59mufeoslekbtiq1iv hint: you are). Then be brave and take care of yourself! Maybe not everything you wanted to get done will get done. But how important were all of those things? I’ll bet they weren’t as important as feeling better! So take that nap, or drink that tea, or catch up on your favorite TV show, and be proud that you’ve chosen to take care of yourself!

Lauren Drinkwater
Graduate Assistant
The Counseling Center


The Balancing Act: Achieving Good Grades and Maintaining Your Sanity

Take Care of Yourself

balanceIf you are reading this, I am willing to bet you take your studies very seriously. You have big plans for the future and you know doing well in school will get you there. You are a student who wants to succeed inside and outside academia. Being a student requires studying. Time management. Organization. A strong work ethic. The list goes on. But here’s the thing, before being a student, you are a person. And people need things. Like sleep. Social support. Good food. Exercise. Did I mention sleep?

You may have heard the classic line, “good grades, a social life, and sleep – in college, you can only pick two.” The truth is, you CAN have all three! The key to personal and academic success in college is balance! Of course, doing well in your classes is the main goal in college, but taking some time for yourself is just as important. Try to look at your studies as a full-time job. If you focus on your academics during your work week, you will have plenty of time left over to enjoy all the fun activities and events that college has to offer. Remember, it is ok to say no to your friends when you have a big test coming up. It is also ok to take breaks from studying to watch your favorite show with your roommates. If you are struggling to find a healthy balance, the trick is to rotate between your academic demands and your personal life. You can have both, but not always at the same time. Keep a healthy balance, and try not to let either side overwhelm you.

College is a very stressful time, there is no denying that. And in a couple weeks, it will be midterm time and you’ll be tempted to pull all-nighters while binge drinking a combination of coffee, energy drinks, and Mountain Dew. Do not do this. Not only will your grades suffer in the long run, but your body and mind will as well.

The first step in integrating self-care into your schedule is knowing what you like to do. For some people, that means going to the gym or going on a run. For other people, that may mean doing an art project. Or going to a church group meeting. Or going out to dinner with a group of friends. Or sleeping for an extra two hours on Sunday morning. Whatever your self-care is, know it, own it, and do it. You are a person. You know what you need to keep your mind healthy. There is nothing wrong with taking a break from being a student and taking some time for yourself.

Schedule Everything

Yes, everything. Get your planner, your calendar, or your favorite time management app and enter in all your due dates from all your course syllabi. If you have reading assignments, enter those, too. Have an ultimate Frisbee tournament coming up? Mark that down. Going home for the weekend to celebrate your brother’s birthday? Yup, put that down, too. This might seem over the top, but if you know what your schedule is ahead of time, it can alleviate a lot of stress. If you have a work schedule, especially one that rotates, this is also good to enter on your favorite organization device.

After you schedule all the constant stuff (things that are less likely to change), plan time for studying, working on projects, and even relaxing. This can be done on a more flexible basis, like the beginning of each week. The worst that can happen if you plan ahead is that you’ll get all your work done and you’ll have free time at the end of the week. Free time? What’s that? Here’s what a weekly schedule might look like:


Remember to balance everything that you do. It is important not to overload one aspect of your life, whether that be school, work, or fun. It is easy to get too caught up in one area, but you will find that once you find a balance that works for you things will start to flow smoothly and you will enjoy success in all of those areas. If you need some help putting a schedule together, or just aren’t sure where to get started, consider requesting academic coaching from the Academic Achievement Center. One of our Learning Specialists can meet with you to get the organization ball rolling.

The Academic Achievement Center

Kristy Gustavson & Marissa Insinna
Graduate Assistants

Allison Hutchison & Jeremy Boettinger
Learning Specialist

A Tiger’s Tale for a Healthy and Balanced Lifestyle

As if acclimating to your new college environment isn’t enough (moving in, making friends, finding your way around campus), you also get bombarded with the looming threat that most college students will have a difficult time making healthy choices in their new college lifestyle.  From needing fuel for all the late night study sessions, snacking with friends, and the delicious all-you-can-eat dining halls, sometimes it’s harder to eat healthy.  College stressors can make eating healthy, nutritious, energizing food and remembering to exercise more difficult.  Here are a few helpful suggestions to keep you healthy and thriving in new academic year:

  1. Go to Burdick Hall.  You know that student services fee on your TU bill?  Well part of those fees went towards your membership to the TU Fitness Center in Burdick. You paid for it, so go use it! From treadmills to stationary bikes, tiny free weights to hardcore 1weight machines, the fitness center has whatever you need to stay active and manage stress.  Does the thought of running on a treadmill bore you to tears?  Campus Rec has some amazing group fitness classes that should peak anyone’s interest.  The group fitness instructors are no joke and will make working out fun.  Check out the group fitness schedule here.
  2. Eat food that fuels your body.  At home, mom and dad made sure you got your balanced breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but they aren’t here to make sure you are eating something green at least once a week.  It’s now on you to make sure you are making healthy food choices and that can be a tough transition.  If you feel yourself start to develop some not so healthy eating habits, check out ChooseMyPlate.gov where you will find many resources on healthy eating habits such as the food pyramid so you can make informed and healthy decisions in regards to your diet.
  3. Make physical activity a part of your schedule.  With studying, reading, writing papers, hanging with college friends, and still keeping up with high school friends, your weekly schedule can get really full really fast.  Just like you use a planner to write out when and how long you should be studying, pencil in when you think you can work out.  And just because you aren’t at the gym, doesn’t mean you aren’t being active.  Live in West Village but have class in Stephens?  Wake up a few minutes early and walk there instead of taking the bus.  Take a longer route than normal to squeeze in some extra active time.  Tackling all those campus hills will be worth it in the long run.
  4. Avoid late night snacking.  A trip to Taco Bell always sounds like the best idea ever at 1 AM, but come morning it doesn’t sound (or feel) so smart.  It’s hard to say no to quality time with your friends, especially when you are in the ‘still getting to know you’ phase with everyone.  You should still go and hang out with your friends, but the late night junk food raids can really mess up your health fast.
  5. Drink more WATER.  We all know how many variety’s of drinks there out there to choose from. From sodas, to sports drinks, to every fruity concoction you can think of, the options are endless. The same goes for all the “healthier” diet or sugar free varieties, lot’s of choices. However don’t forget, by far and away the healthiest option is always water. 60% of our bodies are comprised of water and there are so many benefits in terms of health and well-being. Check out six of them here2
  6. Treat yo’self! Tom Haverford’s immortal words of wisdom never rang more true.  When trying to survive a stressful semester at college, it’s ok to indulge every now and then.  Just kicked butt on your midterms?  Grab some ice cream after dinner.  Did you exercise and eat balanced meals all week?  Treat yourself to some pizza with friends.  Maintaining a healthy lifestyle isn’t about restriction, it’s knowing when to say yes to a sweet treat because you deserve it and when to say no to a late night Chinese food delivery from Towson’s Best because you are bored.

Making the transition from home cooked meals to dining halls, regimented high school schedules to most of your days being open after class can be difficult when trying to maintain a healthy balance.  Remember, college is about discovering who you are and that also includes figuring out how to take care of yourself on your own. Don’t beat yourself up if turning over a new leaf is harder than you think.  We all go through highs and lows when trying to figure what it means to be healthy and happy.  But there is a silver lining to this process:  the healthy habits you establish now will help you out for the rest of your adult life.

Caitlin Duda
FTP Advisor
Community College of Baltimore County

With input from:

Kasey Serdar, PhD
Staff Psychologist, Eating Disorder Services Coordinator
The Counseling Center

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