50 Radical Acts of Self Care For Strong College Students

Self Care has been a transformative part of my college journey.

There was a time when I hated self care.

I thought I was bad at it. I thought it didn’t work. I thought it was for silly girls with ponytails who wrote in journals with gel pens.

(Not that there’s anything wrong with that! You do you!)

But then I learned about what self care truly is.

Self care is the intentional act of caring for oneself.

That was a game changer.

Self care has to be intentional, and self care is anything that cares for an aspect of your health or wellness.

That being said, there are SO many ways to self care, and I’ve collected 50 of them here for you!

I’ve broken this list into categories according to the 7 dimensions of wellness. Some of them will be obvious. Some won’t. Some will be easier to implement. Some will take a bit more time and patience.

How many of these radical acts of self care do you incorporate into your routine?

Physical Wellness

  • Prioritizing the basics: drinking enough water, eating enough food, getting enough sleep. 
  • Prioritizing regular joyful movement or physical activity in ways that fit your schedule and abilities.
  • Honoring your body’s physical limitations and taking guilt-free rest days when needed
  • Choosing to eat nourishing, satisfying food when you need it, even if it isn’t your favorite
  • Choosing to enjoy a treat or snack food, even if it is not nutritious
  • Making mindful activity and rest choices based around your schedule and needs of the day and upcoming week
  • Maintaining physical hygiene: keeping up with a regular shower schedule, wearing clean clothing, washing your face and brushing teeth regularly and as needed
  • Receiving regular healthcare: annual preventative screenings and check ups, keeping up with immunizations, going to the doctor when needed for illness, injury, or other concerns, taking and refilling medications as needed. 
  • Removing toxic people from your interactions: removing people who make you feel ashamed of your appearance, abilities, health status, or otherwise bad or guilty about the way you choose care for your physical health

Emotional Wellness

  • Taking and refilling psychiatric or behavior medications as needed, and seeking out care to change, add, or subtract medications when needed
  • Scheduling and attending therapy or counseling appointments as needed
  • Taking the time to go outside and enjoy sunshine and nature, weather permitting!
  • Intentionally choosing self-care activities, such as journaling, lighting a candle, Netflix, or other practices that allow you to destress and unwind
  • Investing in friendships and relationships with people who can emotionally support you when you are feeling down
  • Honoring your emotional boundaries and limits when others need emotional support from you
  • Acknowledging your struggles and asking for help from others when needed
  • Taking breaks and time away from stressful activities and situations in order to recharge
  • Removing toxic people from your interactions: removing people who bully you, gaslight or manipulate you, or otherwise make you feel bad or guilty about the way you choose to care for your emotional health

Spiritual Wellness

  • Making intentional time for mindful activities like meditation, yoga, journaling, prayer, etc.
  • Honoring your morals, beliefs, and values and standing up for what you believe in
  • Diving into your organized religion if it is something that brings you comfort, safety, and joy
  • Acknowledging if aspects of the organized religion you are familiar with are not serving your needs in the moment
  • Taking the time to listen to sermons or spiritual podcasts that uplift you and encourage you to reflect inward
  • Removing toxic people from your interactions: removing people whose morals and values make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, people who dismiss your religion or beliefs, or otherwise make you feel bad or guilty about your spiritual health or the way you choose to care for yourself. 

Social Wellness

  • Spending time with friends to socialize and engage with others
  • Deciding NOT to go out with friends when alone time is needed to destress and recharge
  • Making time to regularly connect with friends and family, either virtually or in person
  • Making the choice not to gossip about or bully others
  • Posting on social media only when you WANT to, without being concerned about the number of “likes.”
  • Turning off notifications and alerts on your devices and setting them aside
  • Choosing to follow people on social media whose posts and photos uplift, educate, and inspire you
  • Choosing to unfollow people on social media whose posts and photos are hurtful, harmful, incorrect, or otherwise make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. 
  • Removing toxic people from your interactions: removing people who gossip about you or encourage you to gossip about or bully others, people who don’t make you feel good about yourself or who otherwise make you feel bad or guilty about the way you choose to care for your social health. 

Intellectual and Occupational Wellness

I call this “Academic” Wellness, because in college, our studies and our work or career aspirations are so closely linked. This type of wellness is where I truly had my breakthrough: sometimes doing homework is better self care than watching Netflix.

  • Intentionally taking time to complete readings and homework assignments, even when you don’t want to
  • Prioritizing studying and academic enrichment over social activities when needed
  • Prioritizing work commitments and professional development opportunities over social activities when needed
  • Cultivating professional relationships with coworkers, supervisors, and mentors 
  • Learning to plan ahead, manage time effectively, and say NO when you need to to avoid stress and burnout
  • Asking for help and support from classmates or professors when you are struggling in your coursework
  • Valuing your time and labor at your place of employment and knowing your boundaries
  • Doing more than the “bare minimum” in your coursework: investing time and effort into the material and the experience
  • Investing time in professional development: attend a seminar or webinar, pick up a book, or spend 30 minutes updating your resume and your LinkedIn. 
  • Removing toxic people from your interactions: removing people who pressure you to skip homework or work commitments, people who don’t take your work or academic ambitions seriously, or people who make you feel bad or guilty about how you choose to care for your intellectual and occupational health

Environmental Wellness

  • Considering your carbon footprint in the world and making sustainable changes when and where you are able
  • Reflecting on the power that you have as a consumer to make ethical purchases when and where you are able
  • Intentionally caring for and maintaining the items that you own to allow them to last longer without needing to be replaced
  • Electing to walk, bike, or utilize public transit rather than driving when and where you are able
  • Choosing to use reusable water bottles, shopping bags, straws, and food storage containers when possible
  • Keeping your living spaces tidy: decluttering often, finding a place for every item you own, making sure you can navigate without tripping or knocking things over
  • Keeping your living spaces clean: regularly washing clothes, bedding, and towels, wiping up small spills and messes, vacuum, mop, sweep, and dust as needed
  • Keeping your living spaces sanitary: washing dishes and emptying trash cans frequently, using disinfecting wipes and sprays around your kitchen, bathroom, and other living areas as needed to kill bacteria. 
  • Removing toxic people from your interactions: people who pressure you to make specific environmental choices outside of your emotional comfort or financial ability, or otherwise make you feel bad or guilty about how you choose to care for your environmental health

Check out this episode of Feed That Nation, where I talk all about the basics of caring for yourself in college!

Minnesota-based grad student, future RD, educator, content creator, and mac and cheese expert! Natalie is currently a Masters of Public Health student and dietetic intern at the University of Minnesota, and is on-track to becoming a registered dietitian-nutritionist. She earned her bachelor's degree in Dietetics in 2019 from St. Catherine University.

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