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What self-care means to me

by Rida Warsi

Self-care is such a buzzword today, isn’t it? But what does it even mean? I imagine you are thinking of bath bombs from Lush, afternoon naps, face masks, candles, and possibly that episode of Parks and Rec where Donna and Tom treat themselves.

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I believe the most important component of self-care is the first word, the internal self, not external care.

To truly take care of yourself, you have to know yourself. You have to be self-aware to engage in self-improvement.  You have to know what harms you, what benefits you, and to know the difference between short instant gratification and long-term delayed gratification (where you put off something fun for the present moment to enjoy something more rewarding in the future). An example is staying up to date on your readings so you do not have to stress and panic the day before your midterm, where you put off present-day distractions so you can have peace of mind in the future.

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Think about it, if you would not recommend a friend to do something, who you care about, then why are you engaging in it? Nevertheless, old habits die hard, and it can be easier to guide another than to follow your own advice because it would require you to change yourself.

Here are a couple of ways I practice self-care:

Eating healthy

I try to eat healthy, instead of stress eating. I know it's a common thing for many students to engage in 'stress-eating' in exam seasons, whether that be with junk food or fast food, it is simply easier than making food for yourself and with the high amounts of sodium or sugar you're consuming, feels better (in the moment) than eating something healthy. But does it really feel better in the long run? The fatigue after eating, digestive issues, high blood pressure, and how many of us generally feel good after eating that box of poutine? I'd imagine not many of us. I am not arguing against eating junk food, I am arguing against using food as a coping mechanism with stress, because it does not foster healthy dependence habits or a healthy relationship with food. To take care of yourself, take care of your health and develop good coping habits.

Avoid distractions altogether

I try not to entertain myself with momentary distractions, and rather focus on whatever I have to get done for that time. Ever go on YouTube to find a song to listen to while you're studying, next thing you know you're watching all the Best of Dwight Schrute from the Office clips for the 5th time this month? I realized at one point, I would avoid the work I had to do by distracting myself with mindless entertainment because it helped me forget the stress and pressure I was feeling. But watching those videos (while they did make me laugh), never helped me in the long run, and instead made me feel worse about the school work I was putting off. To take care of yourself, prioritize what is important to you, and what will benefit you in the long run.

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At the end of the day, self-care should be defined by the self, most importantly. Only you know what is truly best for you. Self-care is not easy, it means to do what is good for you, not just what feels good in the moment. If you're looking for ideas for a self-care activity, another Content Creator, Jackie, wrote a Self-Care Quiz. Take it and find out which self-care activity it right for you!

Take the Self-Care Quiz