As the importance of self-care is increasingly talked about by researchers and the general public, many people are finding unique ways of engaging in this practice. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many typical self-care practices—going to the hair salon, getting a nice meal at a restaurant, or going to your favorite crowded workout class—have been put on pause. Yet, as many people are stuck inside and isolated from loved ones, the necessity of finding effective self-care practices could not be more important.
Over a year after the pandemic started, Boston College students are learning that self-care is so much more than just relaxing activities such as bubble baths and skincare routines. It can literally be anything that refreshes the mind and gives one a needed break from the daily hustle of keeping up with everything on campus. It can be easy to lose sight of self-care habits during college life in a pandemic, but incorporating much-needed rituals to destress and recharge is beneficial in both the immediate moment and for longer-term health.
When asked what kinds of self-care practices BC students have adapted into their routines, most of my friends and acquaintances included some sort of physical activity. This is definitely an important part of my self-care, and physical activity can look different for everybody. For me, it ranges from anything such as playing spikeball outside with friends—now that the weather finally allows it—to going to the gym. My friends Sara and Joey both consider the gym a significant part of their time to destress.
For me, exercising outside can be particularly rejuvenating. Joey also talked about going on walks, whether it’s around the Res to call his family or to a particular destination. He has been going to the library a lot more this year because of the walk there, which he sees as a nice breather from spending lots of time in the dorms, he said.
Doing something physically active like walking can help me get my mind off of things, which my friend Julianna also said she values. Going for walks off campus allows Julianna to take a break from the external things that cause stress and allows her to check in with herself, she said.
Julianna’s habit of going on walks started last spring as a simple way to get out of the house. This quarantine ritual quickly evolved into a refreshing part of her long-term routine that she brought back to campus with her, she said.
My favorite things about going on walks are that I get to listen to music and I get to venture off campus for a bit. For me, getting off campus in any capacity is a form of self-care—it is very easy to get overwhelmed by being wrapped up in everything that goes on in the “BC bubble,” and these walks down Comm Ave. usually help clear my head when needed.
I also love listening to music that is reflective of my mood at the time. Self-care definitely does not have to be practiced only when feeling stressed—in fact, it is encouraged to practice as much as possible in order to maintain a healthy life balance.
Julianna also got into journaling over quarantine. She said she doesn’t have a super structured way of going about it, but just having a journal to write about whatever she feels like is plenty.
I have also tried a bit of journaling. I had always wanted to attempt it after seeing how pretty and aesthetically pleasing it is to flip through the pages of a bullet journal. But, every time I’ve tried to start one, I could never keep up with the expectations that I set for myself. Similar to Julianna, I’ve agreed to only write in it when I feel like it, without the pressure of having to keep up with it every day—that doesn’t count as laziness, right?
Lastly, although spending alone time can be incredibly beneficial, sometimes being around those you love provides the boost you need. Self-care can also be thought of as time spent with friends. Sara said she and her roommates will plan activities like movie nights during the week to hold themselves accountable for taking a mental break. Tyler, Joey’s roommate, said they play Wii Sports together too.
Something my roommates and I will do is set a time to have our work finished by so we can do something fun after, like go to White Mountain or watch Criminal Minds while painting our nails. By setting a time that we all agree to put our work away, we are all much more motivated to get it done before the “deadline,” as we are rewarded with a fun rest of the night.
In both my own experience and that of my friends, it’s quite apparent that the range of self-care rituals students partake in has been expanding and changing this year. What’s most important is finding a form that works for you, and holding yourself accountable to building that time into your hectic life.
Graphic by Meegan Minahan / Heights Editor