Winter break is around the corner, and so are finals. As your schedule piles up, it’s important to continue to practice self-care. I have adopted the eight dimensions of wellness into my self-care routine, and I want to share my best strategies to tackle each element. The dimensions of wellness consist of the following, and they are all equally important: emotional, physical, occupational, intellectual, financial, social, environmental, and spiritual. Let this article be your cheat sheet for optimal self-care in all aspects of your life during the busiest of times.
There are many ways to practice emotional wellness, such as finding enjoyable activities, processing your emotions with someone you trust, or simply unplugging. I personally enjoy turning off all of my electronic devices and coloring, as it gives me the space to relax. As a public health student, I am currently working on an anatomy coloring book, simultaneously learning about the human body while I color. I’ve also gotten into bullet journaling, a creative way to reflect on emotions and daily habits. Do something that you truly enjoy that does not relate to the pile of work on your desk.
I don’t know about you, but I’m always tired after a long day of classes and/or studying. My elaborate gym routine doesn’t seem as exciting or achievable these days. It’s important to get at least seven hours of sleep each night, and overexerting yourself physically can lower energy levels and contribute to poor sleeping habits. I am a huge fan of my new SoulCycle at-home bike where I am able to take spin, strength, and stretching classes ranging from 20-60 minutes. A great alternative to this would be the fitness classes offered by UMass Campus Recreation. From spin classes to yoga, there are plenty of free on-campus fitness classes led by other UMass students at all times of the day.
Some of us may be working part-time jobs to keep up with the financial burden that comes with college. Internships also count, as many of us need them for experience and/or academic credit. If you are currently working, it is important to have a work-life balance. The best way to do this is to budget time that you are either at work or doing work for your job and ensure that you are making time for yourself as well. I have experience with remote internships while in college, and I find that coming up with a schedule and sticking to it is very effective. As long as you’re meeting all of your deadlines, feel free to wait until the next business day to reply to emails.
You have enough going on with your classes right now, so learn about something you enjoy. I have enjoyed learning how to cook through meal kits such as Home Chef and watching documentaries on topics that interest me. Reading the news is a great way to stay up to date with current events and click on the stories you want to learn more about. Don’t forget to stay curious outside of the classroom when you have a chance.
College is expensive, so there are lots of great opportunities to help you stay on track financially. I highly recommend working with the UMass Smart About Money (SAM) financial wellness organization. SAM offers tips and tricks on budgeting, investing, and more. You can meet with qualified peers that will help you navigate your individual financial situation and check in with you along the way.
Making time for friends and family may seem impossible during such a busy time, but your social wellness matters in the big picture of your success. Join a club, go out with friends, or even set up a study group.
Speaking of social environments, it is important to stay healthy within our physical environments as well. I like to go home every month or two since I live within a couple of hours of the Amherst area. Whether you go home for a weekend or plan a getaway with friends, a change of scenery is the way to go. Getting outside for fresh air during the school day, as well as finding new study spots on and off campus will also address environmental wellness. Make sure you are always in a safe environment in which you feel comfortable and energized.
You don’t have to do anything out of the box to practice spirituality. I participate in regular mindfulness practices before my head hits the pillow every night. My favorite mindfulness resource is Insight Timer. It’s a tool for mindfulness practices, as well as a journal section, timer, and even short breathing exercises.
Self-care works differently for everyone — these are only suggestions to add to your self-care routine. Whether you have zero or five finals this semester, do your best by ensuring that you can be the best version of yourself. Good luck!