Around this time of year, it’s easy to feel the stress around Mercer’s campus. Everyone starts taking some of their first tests or has their first big assignments of the semester. Students are staying in the library longer, and everyone is talking about one class or another.
Along with the stress of school, this month in particular brought on another stressor for some: Valentine’s Day. Although the initial reaction is to think about love in terms of significant others and couples, one aspect that seems to get left out is self-love.
“It’s easy to lose track of yourself,” freshman Milo Reeves said. One thing Reeves suggests is simply cleaning up around yourself. That could be folding your laundry, cleaning your desk or just making your bed.
For others, self-care comes in the form of affirmation. Sophomore Alexandria Porter’s way of practicing self-care is by talking to herself in her mirror.
“I feel like the more you say it, the more you believe it,” she said.
One common way to spend time on oneself is through skincare. Sophomore Whitley Hester has recently loved to use her “gua sha,” which is a traditional Chinese medicine practice where you use a tool to shape and massage your face. She explained that focusing on the motions of the tool allows her to have a moment to herself where she doesn’t have to think about what’s going on around her.
Healthy self-care habits aren’t something that comes naturally and most people expand on them as they grow. Porter recounts her journey with self-love and how she’s struggled a bit.
“Just take your time with it," Porter said. "It’ll come as it’s necessary, and you’ll get where you need to be as long as you just take time and like be kind to yourself throughout the whole process."
For those who may be struggling with self-love during this Valentine’s Day, freshman Jacob Walker shares how he tries to focus on himself during the holiday.
“I am always making sure that I love myself before I am able to love anybody else,” he said.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be centered on relationships, and Hester argues that you can celebrate the love between friends.
She loves to attend “Galentine’s” celebrations with her best friends just to remind herself that it’s okay to have relationships outside of romantic ones. Galentine's celebrations are traditionally held the day before Valentine's Day as a holiday "dedicated to celebrating friendship in all its forms," according to Cosmopolitan.
Self-care and self-love look different to each individual. Simply put, the way one person practices self-care may not work for another person.
“The key is making yourself comfortable,” Mercer student Samantha Gregory said. “You don’t have to do all the crazy stuff you see online, like 800 face masks. I mean, it’s good for you, but as long as you’re making yourself comfortable and you’re getting through the day and you’re happy, that’s what it’s about.”
Overall, whether your self-care plan looks like creating a detailed skincare routine or just making your bed, it’s all up to you. Only you can decide what’s best for yourself. What’s important is that you take time out for yourself and use it in a way that’s beneficial to you and your well-being.