Starting at Cornerstone as a freshman, I quickly learned the importance of self-care. Busy schedules, late nights, and lots of sugar and caffeine defined my first semester of college. If you’re a freshman, this may be the first time you get to choose your schedule. Now that we’re midway through the fall semester, you have probably developed routines and patterns. You can decide whether to do that homework assignment at 2 a.m. or 2 p.m. In the midst of the busyness and many decisions college life brings, it’s important to care for yourself.
In college, YOU get to choose what you commit to. YOU get to choose when you hang out with friends and when you stay in. YOU are in charge of your schedule—no one else.
I remember during my freshman year experiencing serious FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Even if I didn’t really feel like going to Applebee’s with friends, I would because I didn’t want to miss out. While I’m thankful that I put myself out there and pursued every opportunity, whether it was with friends, extracurriculars or school, I think I would have been much more present had I considered my limits. It’s okay to stay in. It’s okay to say no to an opportunity—there will be others.
If you want to commit to something, make your yes a firm and confident yes, not a begrudging yes that really should have been a no. If you do this, you will be able to be present wherever you are. You will enjoy your commitments more. You will have more energy for the things that matter most to you and be more content with the choices you make.
If you’ve already overextended yourself, don’t be afraid to take a step back. I’m a chronic overcommitter, and believe me, I’ve had to reevaluate my schedule so many times. Cornerstone professors, on-campus managers and your peers will understand and respect your ability to know your limits. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
A good night’s rest makes a world of difference. My freshman year, I averaged four to six hours of sleep a night and never took naps. Now that I’m a senior, I have to get a solid seven to nine hours. Sometimes I feel like I’m just getting old, but I know that it’s really because I’ve learned my limits and how I function best. I was never at one hundred percent when I only got a few hours of sleep. Choosing to be more disciplined about when I go to bed helps me to have better, happier days and be less likely to burn out.
Likewise, we all know that exercise is good for us, but do we actually do it? I know that student-athletes have to work out regularly, but for someone like me who has no outside accountability, I’m lucky if I make it to the gym at all, let alone know what to do when I get there. But I know the times that I was in a consistent workout schedule I was able to relieve stress and feel more in tune with my body, which helped me to be sharper mentally. Working out is scientifically proven to make you happier and relieve stress.
I know that it’s hard to eat well in the college caf sometimes, but you can make conscious decisions to have a healthy diet. Have that salad when you’re ready to grab pizza for the fifth day in a row. Don’t take the buffet as a personal challenge and instead eat the portions that you know work best for you (of course, an extra chocolate chip cookie once in a while never hurts). This will also help you to think more clearly and be more in tune with your body.
With that being said, don’t forget to treat yourself! You deserve it.
Some of my favorite times in undergrad were going out for coffee with friends or to study, getting late-night drive through food when we were all craving it, or running to Meijer to get cookie dough. It’s part of college life!
Having a good support system is arguably the most important part of self-care. Cornerstone is a uniquely community-centered university where students and faculty alike love each other with the love of Christ.
The friends that I have made at CU never fail to check in on me and love me well. I know I can come to them with anything and they will be fully present with me. I couldn’t have gotten through my whole time in college without them.
I also really value having good relationships with my professors. There are some that I have sat down for coffee with just for conversation. I know that they are always there to offer perspective, make connections and to help me think more deeply.
Mentors come in many forms and will be invaluable in your time at CU. If you don’t have a mentor I would encourage you to seek one out. Cornerstone chapel even offers a mentorship program and will connect you with someone if you are interested.
Most importantly, your relationship with Jesus should be the foundation of all self-care. He loves you more than anything and just wants a relationship with you. Bring Him your cares, your worries, your sadness, and know that He hears it all. Time I spend with Him is the sweetest part of my day. He is my source and my sustainer. He is so faithful to care for my soul.
No matter if you’re a senior in high school looking ahead or a freshman at Cornerstone trying to start off your first semester strong, self-care is important. You will be able to function better when you acknowledge your needs and choose to care for them. To learn more about student services available, explore our University Offices.