Self-care has been a controversial topic for years, but while some people deem self-care to be selfish and pretentious, it is actually a very necessary part of maintaining one’s mental health.
This concept can involve a wide variety of activities, from drinking warm tea with a good book to visiting an amusement park and eating a corndog.
Lisa Nolting, program coordinator for Iowa State's Student Wellness Center, said, “We define self-care as prioritizing one’s well-being ... many of [my clients] are working on consistently taking care of themselves in various ways: by taking time to journal, eating regular meals, being outside or spending time with friends.”
While this term is important for health professionals to know, it has also made its way into common vocabulary for many people.
“[Self-care is] taking some time every once in a while to make sure you’re treating yourself right, like taking a break from studying or hanging out with people you care about … making sure that you are taking care of yourself and your well-being,” said James Bachman, sophomore in chemical engineering.
The trend of self-care can be seen all over social media through the use of the hashtag "#SelfCareSunday." One such post comes from actress Halle Berry, featuring a whimsical photo of Berry in a bubble bath with the caption, “It’s been a really long day, but still making time for #SelfCareSunday with my bubble bath.”
An alternate take on the mental health campaign can be seen with former first lady Michelle Obama. In one of her posts, she is posed mid-lunge while holding a hefty medicine ball above her head.
Obama's picture was captioned, “It doesn’t always feel good in the moment. But after the fact, I’m always glad I hit the gym. How did you all take care of yourself on this #SelfCareSunday?”
Obama isn’t the only exercise-enthusiast who is passionate about self-care. Jess Pagor, freshman in pre-dietetics, is too.
“I typically go to the gym every day, occasionally before class, but it can be hard to, so I go every day at night [...]," Pagor said. “Sometimes I go to the pool just to relax after my workout. I always try to go because it gives me a boost of energy."
But even the same person can have different methods of self-care. While Pagor does work out daily, she has a few other ways to get some extra self-love and relaxation in.
“It’s that little bit of decompressing,” Pagor said. “I always have music on […]. Go to eat when you’re too stressed out. [My friends and I] would go downstairs and chill, walk around.”
When researching self-care, it can seem daunting and intimidating. However, any act of personal appreciation and decompression will suffice, from 10 seconds of controlled mediation to a complete Harry Potter marathon of 19 hours and 39 minutes.
For example, Alyssa Raiter, freshman in engineering, values her little moments.
“The basic stuff like showering and washing your face every day — just having a routine — it’s really nice,” Raiter said.
Due to the portrayal of bath bombs and face masks for self-care, there is a common misconception that self-care is only for females, but that is simply not the case.
“I spend quite a bit of time just relaxing and hanging out with friends," Bachman said. "That’s my way of self-care. I take a break from studying and take a break from stuff that is stressful.”
Although self-care can be a versatile method of supporting one’s well-being, there can be challenges in a dorm setting. With the lack of bathtubs, space and financial security, popular routines need to be adapted to reap similar results.
“It can be hard to get that quality alone time, but if you find someone who ‘gets-it’ […] it’s nice to be alone, but it can be hard," Pagor said.
Joining this viral trend can be extremely rewarding with only minimal effort.
Consider joining a fun student organization to discover a new passion. Invite some friends over for a Netflix movie night. Go to a local cafe and sip coffee by a window. Or if that requires too much exertion, take some time to snooze on a comfy sofa. There are multiple ways to recharge, but it’s important to find the best, individualized fit.
Sometimes, people need help exploring these options. Under the "services" tab on the Student Counseling Services websites, there is a link to the Mind-Body-Spa, which has several guided meditations and mindfulness activities. Other self-care advice is a quick Google search away.
Jonathan Van Ness, a famous hairstylist from the hit series “Queer Eye,” perfectly summed up the importance of self-care when he spoke in an interview to Delish magazine.
“It means something different to all of us, but can you make some time for self-care today?”