Published: April 27, 2021

female friends walking in the woodsEncouraging your student to practice self-care can make a world of difference for their stress levels. Self-care is really a way to say "this is how I help myself feel better". It doesn’t have to be an investment of time or money (and definitely shouldn’t add more stress). Here’s our list of ways your student can start feeling better right away—make recommendations based on what you’re noticing, and add your own ideas! 

If they only have a few minutes, they can:

  1. Jot down a list of things they’re grateful for.
  2. Stretch it out: suggest standing up, reaching for the ceiling, breathing deep and touching their toes.
  3. Plug in their headphones and turn on a song that makes them feel happy.  
  4. Leave post-it notes with positive affirmations (I am capable, I work hard, I can do this) on their mirror, computer or notebook. 
  5. Watch a funny video - laughter can increase serotonin levels. Send them one if you have a favorite!

If they have a little while, they can:

  1. Text a friend and have a quick conversation. Suggest they make plans to get together for the coming week.
  2. Get out into nature for a short walk, bike ride or find a quiet place to sit and let their mind wander.
  3. Check in with themselves using HALT: Are they Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? If they answer yes to any of these, they should take care of these needs first. Remind them to have a snack or squeeze in a 20-miute power nap.
  4. Try out a crossword puzzle, Sudoku, word search or other mind-engaging game. Most are available as free apps—you might even be able to play each other long-distance with these app games!

If they have plenty of time, they can:

  1. Pick up their favorite book, watch their favorite movie or listen to their favorite album. If it’s back home, send it their way!
  2. Make themselves some comfort food. Nachos, spaghetti, chana masala, whatever it is, the act of cooking and nourishing go a long way. Suggest they try one of their home-cooked favorites and send along the recipe.  
  3. Dedicate time to a hobby (or find a new one) like drawing, writing or martial arts—anything they can enjoy doing without feeling stressed. There might be something you can pick up together!
  4. Take care of their space. Suggest they find a quick fix that makes their environment feel less overwhelming (like putting away the dishes or organizing their desk) and celebrate with them as they check it off the to-do list.
  5. Create a self-care toolkit. Encourage them to collect the things that help them feel better and keep them together for the next self-care day. Need ideas? Suggest that same favorite movie, puzzle book, hobby supplies, an affirmation note, even a gift card to their favorite coffee shop or restaurant.