Skip to content

Get help now

Call or Text 988

College Life Self-Care

Beginning life as a college student is incredibly exciting. There are opportunities to meet new people, to enroll in classes that are meaningful to you, to begin living more independently, or to pick up hobbies that bring you joy. It can also become overwhelming. It’s difficult to navigate certain changes that frequently accompany college life. Academic rigor, day-to-day routine, living accommodations, and physical or mental health can all markedly begin to differ. It’s critical when embarking upon such significant change to practice self-care. Self-care is defined as “the ability a person has to nurture their own well-being”. It doesn’t look the same for us all. A best friend might practice self-care by going for a walk before they head to the office. A parent might engage in it by reading a chapter every night of their favorite book. The following are a list of possible self-care practices tailored specifically to college students (although they’re great options for anyone)!

  1. Get at least 7-10 hours of sleep each night. College provides us with the opportunity to learn new things and to dedicate ourselves to what we feel most passionately towards. Without sleep, this is challenging, at best. Sleep promotes brain functioning and allows us to process what we’ve learned. It also allows us to better regulate our mood and promotes attention.
  2. Try to keep living spaces clean. For many students, college is the first time they’re living without a parent or guardian. It’s tempting to leave spaces unkempt. However, keeping living areas clean can promote positive mental well-being and can also help with quality of sleep. Also, if you’re living with a roommate, keeping shared areas in great shape can help foster healthier relationships!
  3. Spend time outside. It’s fun to look for walking trails, hiking spots, or even to go on short walks around campus. Even being outside can lower cortisol levels and can provide students a chance to reflect on how they’re thinking and feeling. Exercise can also be beneficial for our physical health and for sleep.
  4. Reach out to friends and family for support. Going to college can feel overwhelming or scary. It’s normal to feel apprehensive and most people do. Being able to reflect on new experiences and strong feelings is helpful for maintaining our mental well-being.
  5. Fuel your body with the right things. Figuring out what to eat in college can be stressful. Most new students work with meal plans and can feel limited in access to healthier options. Get to know your options and do your best to try new foods! The beginning of the fall semester is very warm. It’s important to stay hydrated when moving from class to class.
  6. Develop a solid schedule. It’s helpful to begin each week planning out when classes might be, when extracurriculars might meet, or when best to go about allocating any free time. It’s smart to also try to allocate segments of time specifically to studying or completing assignments.
  7. Get involved on campus. Most colleges host events in which sports teams, volunteer organizations, and clubs can reach out to potential members. Get to know members and find out more about potential organizations that interest you most. Involvement on campus provides new students the chance to build meaningful relationships that are rooted in common interest.
  8. Limit screen time. It’s natural to begin the day by checking text messages or to wrap it up scrolling through social media. Too much screen time in the early mornings can result in fatigue and difficulty with focus. Screen usage before bed impacts our ability to fall asleep and to enter into deep sleep. If possible, wind down by reading a book or by listening to quiet music.
  9. Stay on top of large projects and exams. Many classes give very few deadlines and expect students to adequately manage their own time. There are fewer required study materials and attendance for some courses is not mandatory. It’s tempting to skip classes or to deflect big assignments or exams. Getting work done on time ensures that it is of higher quality. If there are sections that feel daunting, it’s helpful to leave enough time to reach out to tutors, teaching assistants, or professors for support.
  10. Practice journaling or meditation. Writing down specific thoughts or feelings is valuable and can help to process new experiences or stressors. It can be therapeutic to look back on tough moments and to recognize growth. Meditation and breathing exercises reduce stress and promote the emotional health of those practicing. From time to time, it is useful to quiet our minds.

Elena Rosenblatt

Elena is working towards her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is passionate about mental health and mental health awareness. She has worked with several local non-profit organizations and also works as an undergraduate research assistant under two separate labs at UNL. Elena began volunteering at The Kim Foundation in May of 2024.