Life on campus is an exhilarating journey that comes with its own set of challenges. In all the excitement it can be easy to forget your mental well-being and before you know it–you’re overwhelmed and exhausted! It’s time to get proactive about self-care. Before winter sets in. Before you’re behind on all your schoolwork. Before you’re stuck in an awkward situationship. Not this year. This year you’re planning ahead to take care of yourself.

Welcome to your personalized guide on creating a self-care plan that’ll empower you to conquer college with confidence. Let’s dive in!

Friends laying together in the grass laughing

Build your Support Network 

    1. Connect Authentically: Surround yourself with friends who uplift and support you. Seek genuine connections and be a good listener in return.
    2. Reach Out: Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Reach out to campus counseling services, student support groups, or even professors.
    3. Family Ties: Stay in touch with supportive family and loved ones. Their encouragement and perspective can be incredibly grounding.

    Writing in a planner

    Mastering Time Management 

    1. Planner Power: Invest in a planner or digital tools to organize your schedule. Or if you’re short on cash, check out this free daily Self-Care Planner! Break down tasks into manageable steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed and don’t forget to CELEBRATE your wins!
    2. Prioritize Tasks: Identify the most important tasks each day and use the methods that work best for your brain to accomplish them. Try time-blocking, tackling the hardest task first, or breaking it down into smaller steps. Everyone’s mind works differently and no one thing works for everyone!
    3. Avoid Overloading: Be realistic about your commitments. Saying “No” allows you to give your best “Yes” to the things that matter most to you. 

    Couple sitting in a hammock over a river

    Navigating Sex and Relationships 

    1. Consent Always: Mandate consent in all intimate interactions. Mutual respect is not optional in healthy relationships. Keep your eyes open early on to see how they handle your boundaries before you’re in an isolated setting.
    2. Open Communication: Be open about your boundaries, expectations, and feelings with your partner. Healthy relationships are built on trust and honest communication. Expectations that are unstated will always go unfulfilled. So speak up for yourself!
    3. Sexual Health: Make informed, intentional decisions about your sexual activity and don’t leave it up to chance. Stay informed about safe sex practices, STIs, and contraception. If you need more information about safe sex or are concerned you might have an STI or be pregnant, schedule a free appointment with our nursing staff!

    Black woman sitting peacefully in the grass

    Cultivating Healthy Habits 

    1. Balanced Diet: Fuel your body with nourishing foods. Aim for a colorful plate filled with fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins. If you’re feeling run-down, start a food journal so you can be more aware of where you might need more nourishment.
    2. Restful Sleep: Prioritize sleep! Establish a consistent sleep schedule to recharge your mind and body. This is especially important during exam season!
    3. Active Lifestyle: Incorporate exercise into your routine. Find an offline activity you enjoy, whether it’s jogging, yoga, dancing, or hiking. If you find activities you love, it won’t feel like a chore and it will drastically improve your mood!
    4. Creative Hobbies: Make time for activities you used to love, whether it’s reading, painting, or playing an instrument. Hobbies provide an outlet for stress and an opportunity to give your mind a break from the endless scroll of social media.

    Crowd of young people at a party

    Securing your Social Life 

    1. Educate Yourself: Understand the potential risks associated with substances like alcohol and prescription medication. Talk with your doctor about how your body might handle any new substances and decide ahead of time what your boundaries are.
    2. Set Limits: If you choose to drink, set clear boundaries based on your own tolerance level. Know your limits and never leave your beverage unattended.
    3. Buddy System: Look out for your friends and encourage them to look out for you! Establish trustworthy relationships with people who will help you uphold boundaries and never drink and drive.

    A mug next to a laptop with a group video chat playing

    Tapping into Local Resources 

    1. Campus Support: Explore the mental health services offered on campus. Virginia Tech, Radford University, and New River Community College all provide counseling, workshops, and support groups. (Links to their pages)
    2. Community Outreach: Check out these local organizations that promote mental health awareness and provide resources for students. (Links)
    3. Online Resources: Utilize mental health apps, blogs, and forums to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. If you’re dealing with specific mental or physical health struggles there are tons of groups on social media where you can find support and connect with others who get it!

    Remember, your well-being matters MORE than your academic success. By proactively nurturing your mental health, you’re setting the foundation for a fulfilling and successful college experience. You’ve got this! 🌟

    If you or a friend are having thoughts of hurting yourself or others, there are people standing by to help. Call the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or text “HOME” to 741741 to chat with a counselor.