When I was applying for college, it seemed like that was all anyone ever talked about. Everyone wanted to know where we were applying, what our top choice school was, and what we wanted to study. Every conversation with an adult seemed to start with, “So, where are you headed next year?” It’s safe to say that anxiety was at an all-time high, which is exactly why practicing self-care and learning to relax during the college admissions process is so crucially important.
If I could tell my high school self one thing, it would be this: time spent taking care of your wellbeing is not time wasted. In fact, sometimes putting away the books, turning off the computer, and prioritizing your mental health is actually the best, most productive thing you can do. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and the college admissions process will go much more smoothly if you take care of yourself through it.
Go to bed early.
I cannot stress how important this is for mental health. It can be easy to get wrapped up in the “go, go, go” mentality that comes along with being a student, but sometimes you simply need to unplug, put your responsibilities aside for one night, and go to bed early. I’m talking 80-year-old grandma early. Put your cell phone away, turn off your lights, and just sleep. You’ll feel like a new person the next morning, and you’ll be ready to tackle everything on your to-do list.
Do something you love every single day.
Yes, every single day, without fail. Even on the days when you have midterms to study for and sports practice, you need to squeeze in something that’s just for you. It can be a ten-minute bubble bath, reading a chapter in a new book, trying a new recipe for dinner, or watching an episode of Dancing With the Stars. Give yourself a bit of time every day when you can fully relax and do something you enjoy. Yes, even if you have lots of work still to do.
Practice mindfulness through guided meditation.
Mindfulness has a host of benefits, like helping us regulate our emotions, minimize stress and anxiety, and keeping us “in the moment.” However, like any other skill, it takes practice. Lucky for us, there are several apps that you can download that can help teach mindfulness through guided meditation. Try downloading an option like “Headspace” or “Calm” to get started. Best of all, it only takes a couple of minutes every day!
Pick up a new hobby.
I know, I know… the thought of adding something to your plate right now sounds insane. But hear me out! Starting a new hobby gives you something to look forward to that is 100% for you. It can provide a sense of accomplishment outside of test scores, grades, and acceptance letters. It doesn’t need to be something extensive. Consider something like getting a library card and starting to read daily, or trying a new kind of workout.
A little bit of sunshine and some fresh air is an instant mood booster. Whether it’s a jog around the neighborhood or just a few quiet minutes sitting on your back porch, you’ll discover that a little bit of outdoor time can instantly change your day. It’s always worth it to carve out a bit of time while the sun is up to just step outside and breathe deeply.
It can be hard to consistently make time for yourself during a busy season like the college admissions process, but you’ll be a much happier person if you do it. So carve out some time to power down your laptop, put away your books, disregard your to-do list, and R-E-L-A-X.