Junior dance performance major Mattey Stroemer demonstrates the “Downward Dawg” pose on the Atherton Mall. Photo by Hannah Barone.
MEGAN FULLER | CULTURE CO-EDITOR | email@example.com
Self-care, in a general sense, can be defined as doing anything that could benefit one’s mental and physical health. Activities can range from exercise to baking to taking a long shower to getting eight hours of sleep. Sometimes it can be hard to think of what to do for self-care, or to find free options. Here is a list of some soothing possibilities.
Sweat it out
The Health & Recreation Complex (HRC) is a great free option for some physical self-care. Exercise does not always have to be about pushing limits and making gains. The HRC offers group classes free with an HRC membership such as yoga, Zumba and Pilates, which foster an environment of mindful movement. The pool is also a great place to decompress, and the sauna can melt away all stressors. The HRC also promotes mental health and well-being services through BU Be Well, which offers free access to Calm, a meditation and relaxation app.
Senior strategic communication major Genevieve Chandler relieves her stress through exercise.
“It gives me endorphins, and it makes me happy,” Chandler said. “It’s time to myself where I don’t have to think about anything else and can just move my body and feel happy and healthy. I typically do Pilates, and then cardio, or I just walk by myself at the HRC.”
The HRC is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends.
Junior dance performance major Mattey Stroemer also loves Pilates as a form of self-care.
“I’m [training] in Pilates,” Stroemer said. “Yoga and Qigong also really balance my energy. Also moving in different ways because I like to move in a lot of different ways.”
Getting out of the classroom and spending time outside can improve one’s mental health. The American Psychological Association (APA) states that “spending time in nature is linked to both cognitive benefits and improvements in mood, mental health and emotional well-being, including improved attention, lower stress, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and even upticks in empathy and cooperation.” Even spending a few minutes outside each day can dramatically change one’s mood. While the APA claims that even watching nature documentaries or listening to nature sounds can have similar effects, actually getting outside has the greatest impact.
Fortunately, Indianapolis is a city with many parks. Indy Parks and Recreation offers 214 parks in the local area. Parks can be places to walk around, have picnics, bathe in the sun, hike, play sports and so much more. One option close to campus is Holliday Park, which has 94 acres of green space, a playground, 3.5 miles of trails and historical ruins. Even sitting outside on the Atherton Mall between classes or walking over to Holcomb Gardens can be great ways to spend some time outdoors.
Take a shower
While this may be something most people do every day, it can also be a great self-care ritual. Showers can be easily elevated from a quick wash to a spa oasis. Put some nice music on and take a nice long shower. Use the best products and enjoy the soothing scents and warm water. Wrap up in a soft towel and enjoy being calm and cleansed. Supplementary products to elevate a shower include face masks, body scrubs, lotions, body oils and more.
Journaling can be more structured from prompts found online, but it can also be completely freeform. Take any stressful thoughts out on each page and feel them melt away. Gratitude journaling is one type of journaling that has proved beneficial in lessening stress. There are so many things in life to be grateful for, and it is always good to be reminded of that.
Chandler also enjoys journaling as a creative outlet for stress.
“Sometimes I search for prompts, and then I just let myself write freely based on those prompts,” Chandler said. “Other times I just write about my day, or maybe I’ll write about what I want in the future.”
Try something new
Getting off campus for a bit and taking a break can be a great stress reliever. Take some time to explore what Indy has to offer.
Chandler finds self-care in solo outings where she can discover the city.
“I take myself on little dates every once in a while,” Chandler said. “Café Patachou [is] a good one, or just searching up fun brunch spots. That’s normally what I do to explore Indy. I’ve been here three years, and I still find new places [downtown] and in Broad Ripple.”
Anthropology and multilingual double major Maggie Gollnick loves exploring the farmers’ markets of Indianapolis.
“I just like to skip around and see what’s going on around the city,” Gollnick said. “I know that there’s kind of a perpetual farmer’s market downtown near Monument Circle [called the Indianapolis City Market]. It’s in a huge hall, and it’s [every weekend].”
Self-care is not selfish. It is essential to one’s health and well-being and can greatly improve even the darkest of days. Relax, and give it a try.