Self-care is trendy. Who wouldn’t want to indulge in face masks, power naps, or movie nights with friends in the name of health and wellness? While the concept is often misconstrued––utilized as justification for splurging on luxuries instead of treated as important, necessary behavior––increased awareness of self-care has emphasized the role of mental health in our overall well-being.
As a student balancing participation in extracurriculars, an active social life, and the academic rigor of a competitive university, it can be easy to let time for yourself fall to the wayside. Self-care can take many forms: for example, sleeping for at least eight hours, eating foods with nutritional value, or calling a loved one. Here are a few additional, WashU-specific ways to take a break and prioritize your mental health:
- Relaxation Chairs. These massage chairs, located on Level 2 of Sumers Recreation Center, are the perfect way to quickly de-stress in between classes. Borrow some wireless headphones from the Equipment Desk, turn on your favorite relaxing tunes, and enjoy 20 minutes of undisturbed bliss.
- $1 Cookies & Milk. This was one of my favorite discoveries during my first year at WashU––every Wednesday from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Café Bergson serves cookies and milk to students for the low price of one meal point. Pro-tip: microwave your sweet treat for about 20 seconds to get the perfect consistency.
- The Butterfly Garden. This oasis on the corner of campus is the perfect place to distance yourself without going too far away from your dorm. Even though the winter months are adding a chill to the air, try meditating in one of the hammocks strung up around the garden and focusing on feeling physically and emotionally weightless.
- Intramural Sports. If you like to cope by burning off stress through physical movement, intramural sports might be perfect for you. Sign up for free as an individual or with a group of friends and enjoy low-stress, team-focused exercise. Go Bears!
- Jazz Nights. Every Thursday night from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., jazz artists from around the world perform for free in Holmes Lounge in Ridgely Hall. If you love live music, this late-night concert could be the perfect study break. Find the schedule here.
These are just a few suggestions of how you can take time for yourself at WashU. One of many wonderful things about self-care is that it can be tailored to you and what you enjoy! How do you practice self-care on campus?
Please note: Self-care emphasizes the importance of prioritizing your health in the midst of a stressful environment, but it is not necessarily a quick fix for all mental health concerns. If you believe that you or someone you know may need professional help, WashU has many resources available. You can find support by making an appointment at the Habif Health and Wellness Center, visiting a Let’s Talk session, or trying TAO (Therapist Assistance Online). Crisis Text Line and WashU student-run Uncle Joe’s Peer Counseling and Resource Center are available 24/7.