Importance of Life Skills: Taking Care of Yourself

One of the biggest changes when you go off to college or out on your own is that your parents or caregivers aren’t there to remind you to get to bed at a reasonable hour or to eat some vegetables once in a while. That’s exciting, right? It also means you’re in charge now. Enter: life skills. 

Life skills include the ability to manage your emotions, your mental and physical health, your finances, your relationships, and your school performance. Your ability to champion those things has a direct impact on how you feel about yourself, your emotional balance, your physical health, and your independence. 

It’s a learning curve, and we’ve all been there. Here are some simple yet important life skills to practice every day.

Prioritize Sleep

Believe it or not, a good night’s sleep means getting nine to nine and a half hours per night, but we often don’t. Good sleep improves learning, concentration, memory, mood, attitude, energy, digestion, and heart health. It’s kind of a wonder cure. If you’re feeling tired, moody, sick, or just off, adjust your sleep schedule to get more. A few good nights may solve everything!  

If sleep is hard for you, find out what to do when you can’t sleep

Eating Well 101: Aim for Varied Eating

Good nutrition is another life skill that promotes emotional and physical health and helps you feel more balanced. Nutrition is something you can teach yourself. It’s not rocket science, but there are also a lot of conflicting messages about how we should or should not eat, which foods are good and which ones are bad, and eating healthy or clean.

What healthy eating actually looks like is eating a lot of different foods so you can meet your nutritional needs without having to think too hard. All foods fit in life, and we eat them for different reasons—to fuel our brains and bodies, to celebrate, to feel comfort, and for nostalgic reasons (like your aunt’s signature mac ’n’ cheese). Eating regularly will help you stay in touch with what actually sounds good to you and enjoy it. 

Move Your Body Every Day

Exercise boosts your mood and reduces stress by releasing feel-good hormones called endorphins. Getting active—even just taking a walk—is an important life skill to help take your mind off your problems and help you cope. 

Physical activity doesn’t necessarily solve problems, but it’s a life skill that can strengthen your ability to face them. Colleges usually have recreation centers you can use, and they may feature a climbing gym, fitness classes such as Zumba or yoga, and intramural teams or clubs. Ask a friend to join you if you feel nervous about trying something new. 

Regularly Practice Self-Care Activities

We all have ways to take mental breaks or blow off steam. Part of adulting is figuring out what makes you feel grounded when you get over-extended. What releases stress for you or gives you the space to regroup? 

It may be journaling with a cup of tea, a morning run, yoga, meditating, a good night’s sleep, or curling up with a good book. Whatever works for you, make a plan to add it to your daily or weekly schedule.

Check out these options for self-care to find what works for you

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If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone right now, text, call, or chat 988 for a free confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7. 

You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.

If this is a medical emergency or if there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.