Often companies advertise products under the guise of self-care whilst they prey on our impulsive decision to hit “purchase” in a moment of stress. Though the term self-care has recently been commodified in ways that undermine its true goal, it remains crucial to reflect on self-care and how we practice it when classes demand so much (often too much) of us.
I don’t think of self-care as buying products because advertisements tell me “I deserve it” and attempt to tie my self-worth to the possession of material things. Buying these products is often detrimental to my financial well-being and counter-productive to real self-care.
Audre Lorde helps me get back to the basics of self-care. She defines caring for oneself not as an act of self-indulgence but one of self-preservation and political welfare.
Being a full-time student, working, joining extracurriculars, applying to jobs, maintaining relationships and getting adequate sleep is extremely difficult, and I often find myself shaving off little parts of who I am because I don’t have the time to be whole.
The best way I’ve found to combat these feelings of being overwhelmed on campus is to go for walks. The idea of going on walks may seem rather underwhelming when searching for the elusive answers to all your worries, but it is this routine act that has helped me most.
You can find me most days of the week doing two laps of the windmill trail in the natural lands. I often dance my way through parts of my walk (usually listening to “Dedicated” by Carly Rae Jepsen). Other times I listen to nothing at all other than the wind, my footsteps and breathing.
It’s one of the few times of the day I dedicate wholly to myself, where I am not watched, not critical of anything, in order to reconnect with how I’m feeling and my place in the world. There’s also something incredibly comforting about not being able to see anything you recognize of campus when it often feels inescapable. Laying in the snow underneath the pine trees and breathing in the fresh air helps me let go of the stress and gain perspective.
I also challenge myself to take a picture of something new I encounter on each walk. This practice pushes me to be appreciative of my surroundings and provides a creative outlet for my awe of nature.
The action of moving forward in this great, wild gift of nature, or whatever sliver of it Northfield has to offer, helps me care for myself. My advice to students when everything is too much is to walk away.
Alyson Brinker ’20 is from Saint Paul, Minn. Her majors are English and political science.