Self Care

Ijeoma Nwaogu
5. Thrive IN® - Self Care


You hear a lot about self-care these days and how important it is in college, but are you aware of actions you can take to really care for yourself? Well, you’re in the right place. Welcome to thrive in and greetings from Houston, Texas. This is Dr. IJ. Your very own life coach. Thrive IN™ is a life coaching podcast for college students and believe me, you’re in the right place if you’re excited about becoming the highest and truest version of yourself while making the most of your time in college. This is session number five, and for this session, I’ll share some self-care strategies that can help you stay centered, focused, and at peace while navigating all of your responsibilities in college. I’m sure you have so much going on in all aspects of your life, so much to juggle, so much to prepare for, so much to maintain. 


So considering all of these responsibilities and activities that you have to do, you might find it difficult to prioritize, time to take care of yourself. Well, I’m here to tell you that I certainly understand the difficulty of college life and how hard it can be to manage so many things. I mean, you have your classwork, you have your living situation, you have your social life, you have all sorts of things that you’re dealing with. And then on top of that, I also know it’s hard to live in a noisy world where media overloads us with TMI or too much information and bad world news every second of the day. So with all of this, it becomes so important to really take a step back and spend time decompressing and getting yourself centered. So because of this, I believe you’ll find these 15 self-care strategies helpful as you strive to keep yourself focused and at peace during your time in college. 


My very first tip for self-care, while in school, it’s really simple. It’s to take deep breaths and to roll your shoulders. This really involves intentionality, like becoming more aware that what’s going on physiologically is really important. And you could actually do stuff to reduce your stress levels. So with taking deep breaths, sometimes we forget to breathe. Imagine being in a really stressful situation and you hold your breath because you feel nervous or anxious or whatever the case may be and you’re not breathing normally. You kind of hold your breath because you’re so tense. So when you’re intentional about your breathing, it helps you to relax your body and also reduce your stress levels. The same goes with rolling your shoulders, so when you feel like you’re stressed out, be mindful of taking those deep breaths and rolling your shoulders around and around slowly because we’re making the muscles in our shoulders so tense. 


Some stress can be on your shoulders. Exercising is also really important to get exercising into your daily routine or maybe do it three or four times a week. That’s also beneficial. You can get your endorphins flowing, which could also improve your overall health and make you feel better. The second piece of advice I’d like to offer is to soak in a tub. Now, I know many of you may live in the residential halls, and you may not have a bathtub, but if you go back home or wherever you are, and there is a tub available while I, you have an opportunity to soak in that tub, hopefully, it’s clean. Um, so soaking in a tub, this helps you to relax and distress, and while you’re at it, you can listen to some music. Anything that really makes you feel happy or relaxed, you could listen to it while you’re soaking in a wonderful warm, bubbly tub. 


My third piece of advice for you is to change environments. If you find yourself locked in your room because you’ve been studying all day or you’ve been working for a really long time or you’ve been hanging out with the same group of friends within a particular space for a while and you really start to feel bogged down or caged or trapped or isolated or whatever the case may be, make sure you’re changing environments. There’s something about switching your location that is stimulating, that gives you a fresh feeling. So I encourage you to exchange environments, get some fresh air switching settings can certainly be positively stimulating. It gets you out of a funk, and it also helps to change your attitude. My fourth piece of advice has to do with people. Think about the groups of people that you’re with. It’s really important to stay away from negative people. 


Spend time with people who are optimistic and goals driven and people who encourage you. This is really important because you don’t want to be around people who are miserable or constantly complaining or constantly like saying negative things because that can impact your own morale. Remember that misery loves company. You don’t want to be in the company of those who are not happy with their lives. Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t engage with people who have bad attitudes or really put your spirits down or who may have a bad influence on you. What I’m saying is to be careful about rolling with those people, spending time with those people all the time and allowing that to be your group of people that influence you, that you spend ample amounts of time with. I’m not saying to ignore people. I’m not saying to give people the cold shoulder who are negative. 


No, you want to engage and be positive because you might be that positive light that allows them to change their attitudes, right? But it’s okay to engage, but you have to tread carefully in spending ample amounts of time with these individuals because they can influence how you feel about yourself, how you’re pursuing things and shift your mindset in ways that are not positive. My Fifth Self Care Strategy for you is to consider limiting your exposure to social media or the news. For example, you might decide that you only want to check your social media after lunch or after dinner for a duration of 15 minutes at a time. When you set these parameters, you might notice that you’re more productive and you’re getting things done better than before. Limiting your media exposure is also helpful because, as human beings, we tend to internalize things that we see, whether we’re aware of it or not. 


We internalize these things, and it really impacts how we think about ourselves or how we’re feeling about things, and it could also make us feel more anxious and nervous about society or whatever we’re viewing. It can have an impact on us whether we think we’re in control of it or not. It does have an impact on our psyche and our emotional wellbeing. So it’s important to be mindful of that. And then you could decide if you want to limit your exposure to news or social media so that you can get more work done and you could feel your best, and you won’t be distracted by the images that you saw on social media or on the news that will take up your mental space when your mental space can be devoted to more productive things like your schoolwork or your job. I want you to preserve your hostage mindset. 


By all means necessary. My sixth tip for you to consider is to spend time in solitude. This simply means to spend time alone. This is an intentional act. During your time in solitude, what you’re doing is removing all of the distractions. All of the noise. This does not mean isolating yourself. As I mentioned in the previous podcast, isolating yourself is driven by fear and anxiety and not wanting to maybe be around others because of something you’re dealing with, but when you’re staying alone because of solitude, again, you’re being deliberate about it because you’re trying to achieve a particular goal and that goal is for self-care, right? Spending time in solitude. What it does is it helps you to refocus and gain clarity about things that you really had to think through. It’s an opportunity for you to meditate so that you can reflect on your past experiences and make sense of them. 


Another thing you can do when you’re spending time in solitude is to listen to music. Music that really reminds you of who you are, music that’s inspirational and calming. If you’re a spiritual person, you could also consider praying or talking to your higher being because there’s a sense of peace that can come from that. I’d like to recommend a song for you. It’s called I am light. It’s by India.Arie. I want you to listen to the lyrics during your spare time. My seventh tip for you is to remember how awesome you are. Spend time remembering who you are, finding value in who you are. Because what this does is, it can recharge you and make you feel more empowered in everything that you’re doing. You might be involved in highly competitive environments, and when you’re in these settings, it’s easy to really lose sight of who you are and why you deserve to be in those spaces. Because sometimes our thoughts get clouded by the idea that other people have these competencies and skills that you feel that you don’t have. And then you start feeling like you don’t deserve to be in those settings where you don’t deserve to be a student. But I want you to know that you do deserve to be in those settings. If you worked hard to get there, you are more than enough. 


What I want you to do to remember how awesome you are is to create a visual for yourself. I call it a success document. It’s a document that you ride out, and then you could take a picture of it, save it to the favorites on your phone or something like that and revisit it when you need a reminder of how awesome you are. So what you’re going to do is write down why you married the right to be in college in a job or in any other setting that you’re part of. I want you to list your achievements, and again, I want you to visit this occasionally or regularly. Anytime you need a reminder of how awesome you are. My eighth tip for you is one of my favorites, and that’s to pursue your passions, pursue what makes you curious. What are you curious about? 


What are you super interested in learning more about? One reason many college students really experience a lot of just stress is because they aren’t pursuing things they’re passionate about like, do you like to act? How about salsa dancing? I want you to really tap into your hobbies or your passions or things that just light your fire. Now, don’t fret because some people feel like they don’t know what their passions are, so if you don’t know what your passions are, it’s totally okay. Just do the positive things you love to do and be sure to allocate time for those things. When you do that, you feel much more content and happier your overall college experience because college is not strictly about sticking your head in books to study and then regurgitate the information back on a test. It’s about learning who you are. It’s about enjoying life while you are studying. 


It’s about all of those things, so I want you to achieve some sort of well-roundedness in that regard. My ninth tip for you is to stay organized. When you say organized, what does it do? It helps you to have peace of mind. Of course, it promotes structure in your daily activities, and it reduces confusion. Imagine not knowing what you have to do for a week, like if you didn’t have your Google calendar or whatever calendar you use to schedule the due dates for your assignments, a schedule like when something is due at work or when you have an outing with a group of friends. It’s really important to stay organized and on top of things because you’re juggling so many responsibilities as it is, so device systems or mechanisms that really work in keeping you on top of your tasks. It could be sticky notes; it could be your Google calendar to mark every due date. 


As I mentioned, you could even create a wall visual where you’re using index cards and tape. That’s something I did in college where I wrote down one deadline per index card and placed them in chronological order based off of when they were due and the due date. And then what I did was every time I completed the task, I would take down the card that represents that assignment, and I would rip it apart or ball it up and throw it away because that symbolizes that I’m done. I’m free. Like I accomplished the goal, and it was awesome to have that ability to just rip it up cause it felt good. It was kinda therapeutic for me. There’s something really gratifying about physically discarding an item that represents a completed job. Tip number 10 is to prioritize important things, and if you can help it, try not to let things become urgent. 


For example, if you have a paper that’s due in two days and you haven’t gotten started on it, it becomes really urgent, and you don’t want to put yourself in such a stressful situation. Try to work through your paper bit by bit once you learn about the assignment to a little bit of research in the beginning so that it wouldn’t be overwhelming for you. Right when the due date is approaching. Oftentimes people have this tendency of putting urgent things first instead of important things. First things don’t have to become urgent if we tended to them earlier on. So I want you to remember to put first things first and try not to put second things first. So make time for those things that are important to allocate time for them. And you should also prioritize yourself, care things that are due or things for your job, and things for like your classwork are important, and they should take priority but also prioritize your self-care soaking in that tub. 


We’re going to get a massage or following or pursuing your passions. All those things are self-care activities, and I encourage you to prioritize some activities for self-care because if they end up getting pushed to the side, I don’t want you to burn yourself out. So along with that is tip number 11. Setting boundaries know how to say no, and it’s okay to say no. Some people say no is a complete sentence, no further discussion. I encourage you to teach people how to treat you. If you’re showing respect for yourself and setting those boundaries and say, this is something I can do, or this is something I’m not going to be able to do, people will then learn how to respect your time, and they’ll follow suit. Setting boundaries helps you to avoid doing things that you really don’t want to do or that don’t add to your ultimate goal. 


So be confident and bold in naming what you need and to do things that are aligned with your ultimate goals. You have to preserve your time and your energy. You have, but so many hours in a day to fulfill so many different responsibilities and tasks that you don’t want to spend it doing trivial things or things that are just to please others. You want to do things that are aligned with your goals. Now that’s not to say that you can’t sacrifice a little bit of your time or allocate time to help someone else. I surely want you to be able to do that and you can. It’s just about knowing that if you’ve set a schedule for yourself and you know that there’s not a lot of flexibility in what you set because you’re trying to achieve your goals, know that it’s okay to say no. 


But when you see that there’s a bit of flexibility in what you’re able to do, it’s okay to say yes. So that’s your decision to make. Tip number 12 is another one of my favorites. I encourage you to set three goals a day for yourself and stick to them every day. Before you start your routine, I want you to write down three things you want to achieve for that day. You can set small, achievable goals for yourself and don’t allow anything to distract you from accomplishing those goals. Because what happens is when you’re focusing on your goals, it occupies a lot of your mental space and it kind of leaves no room for you to wallow in any worries that you may have. You’ll also feel like this great sense of satisfaction once you actually achieve any of your small goals that you set for yourself. Maybe you might need like a notepad by your bedside and when you wake up, like the first thing you could do is to jot down three goals for yourself that you want to achieve that day and it just really helps get you focused, get you driven and motivated to achieve those goals. 


Tip number 13 I love this one. It’s simply to have fun. I mean, do the things that make you laugh, like watching comedies with your roommates and friends or going to campus events or spending time in solitude. That also is fun for some people, especially if you’re an introvert because introverts regained their energy by being alone. So whether you’re alone or spending time in a social setting or with your friends or whatnot, make sure you’re having fun, that you’re smiling and you’re enjoying yourself and doing something that’s stimulating and allowing you to feel free and happy and have fun. Tip number 14 is to consider downloading a daily motivational or inspirational app on your phone. If you start your morning off by reading or listening to a daily devotional or a message, this could help encourage you and keep you focused on the things that actually matter in life. 


And finally, tip number 15 is something that you’re currently doing, and that’s to listen to Thrive IN podcast. As you’re aware of this podcast could give you the additional self-care, encouragement, and information from your number one life coach for college students, Dr. IJ and I am here to support you. I am fully committed to making sure you have the tools for self-care that you need. You could also consider the variety of resources I have just for you to help you increase your knowledge of self-care overall. Your goal is to survive and thrive, and a helpful way is to develop what I call an ethic of care for yourself in order to keep the focus and the drive that you’ll need to complete anything that’s worth doing. I’m super curious to learn. Any other tips you may have about self-care. What tips are you currently taking action on that really help you take care of yourself? 


What works, what hasn’t worked for you. I’m super curious to learn all of that, so that’s it. I’d love to connect with you. Visit my website, thriveinpodcast.com, where you’ll find exciting resources just for you. While you’re on there, make sure you drop me a message. If you’re gaining a lot from this podcast, I welcome you to rate and review on iTunes. 


Feel free to send me a message on topics you’d like me to speak about and follow and like me on social media at the handle @drijclc, which stands for Dr. IJ college life coach. Again, that’s @drijclc. I’m wishing you a safe, happy, and thriving week. Join me for the next episode. Love you.

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