Writing Challenge: Self-Care Defined

ThreeSixty’s Writing Challenge is open to all high school students throughout April 2020. Each week, students are asked to submit their responses, and we pick the top three.

Week 2 prompt: What does self-care mean to you? How does social media influence it? 

Here are the top three responses:

By Tristan Xiong, senior at Great River School

Writing Challenge - self-careOn a surface level, self-care is a way to take care of yourself but it’s more than that. Self-care is a personalized practice of caring for oneself. This takes form in many ways, such as working out at the gym, taking care of your hygiene or just sleeping in. Self-care also means taking care of your mind as well as your body. In my opinion, this is a part of self-care that can be forgotten and/or not dot done right. Sometimes, not done at all. There is no right way or wrong way to take care of yourself, it is up to the individual to gauge that decision. However, there may be better ways of taking care of yourself you might not be considering. This is what I’ve learned about myself and how my habits affected my self-care.

In the past, what I considered self-care included doing the things I enjoy most, which was watching anime and reading fanfiction. After all, the main purpose of anime, television and fanfiction is entertainment. I started doing these activities as a way to take a break from my homework. However, doing what you like is not self-care! It is a routine for a reason. Having your self-care activity in your schedule makes your actions intentional. You do your self-care activity knowing that it will help you recalibrate and focus yourself or just take a break. It is the intention of doing these activities that differentiate taking a break and procrastination.

When I watched anime or read fan-fiction, I was not doing these activities with that state of mind or with those intentions. They began to negatively affect me. Instead of doing them in order to take care of myself and take a break, I did them with a sense of procrastination and ignored my priorities. I got sucked into the internet, and I unintentionally started practicing bad habits. There is a line between taking a break from your work and doing something to procrastinate. What I thought of as self-care (doing things you like), was not helping me.

To summarize, self-care is a personalized practice or a routine one does to take care of themselves, both mind and body. Your habits greatly affect how you go about doing your own self-care practice. No one knows for sure what is the right way is or the wrong way is to take care of yourself. I’ve heard this from adults in my life, but this means more now that I’ve realized this myself. Only you judge for yourself if what you are doing is helping you or harming you and only you can decide what self-care means to yourself.

By Evan Odegard, sophomore Nova Classical Academy

Until recently, I’ve always been a bit confused by the idea of self-care. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, self-care wasn’t much more to me than a phrase plastered across social media, written in colorful letters in reposted illustrations on my classmates’ Instagram stories. It was a hashtag buried under perfect pictures of influencers enjoying healthy meals, expensive skin routines, and an out-of-reach lifestyle full of smiles and pastel colors. My health teacher had mentioned it briefly, promising that our class would return to the topic after we came back from spring break. Of course, that never ended up happening. I never sat at my desk and listened to my teacher give a lecture on the importance of caring for yourself properly. However, I did end up learning about self-care, implementing certain strategies, and understanding how it can change lives.

My understanding of self-care didn’t change on its own. On a regular Sunday afternoon this March, the way I lived my life took a quick turn. When I saw Gov. Tim Walz announce the closure of Minnesota schools for two weeks, I was happy at first. This break would take away quite a bit of stress, allow me to procrastinate a few assignments even further and give me time to focus on other important parts of my life. I soon realized that this break was more than an escape from stress—it was an opportunity to change my life for the better. I started looking into self-care, something I had previously passed off as a meaningless trend. I began working out regularly, eating healthy and getting out into nature more often. With no other activities to worry about, I realized how large a role technology and social media played in my life, so I cut back on my screen time. I devoted more time to reading, organizing my room and spending valuable social time with my family. I was able to spend much more time improving my skills in tennis, learning how to cook with my siblings and finally getting back to regularly taking lessons in Indonesian. I figured out that self-care was able to improve my life, and I regretted not having made these changes earlier. I am certain that this new lifestyle is the direct result of being quarantined, and I am sure that this time will change my life for the better.

By Johanna Flaherty, sophomore at Simley High School

When I think of “self-care, I think of face masks, nail files and bath bombs. I have no idea why I think of these things when self-care is in the equation. It’s not very relaxing when the face masks dries and pulls your face in every direction. Or, when the bath bomb stains your tub purple. (I have never been so betrayed by a lavender-scented product…)

Self-care for me, is experiencing something exciting.

Life for a play-it-safe person like me is comfortable, but not very thrilling. A lot of my day is taken up by school, and it’s hard for me to find motivation to leave the house.

So what is the solution for someone who is too lazy to get off the couch, but too restless to be a true couch potato?

Action. Movies. (Preferably animated!)

There’s nothing quite like the rush of a good car chase after a morning of geometry.

I never had much social media influences outside of my movie stash. It’s easy for me to re-watch the same thing over and over without getting bored. So, most of my high school career was spent with very limited experience of outside media.

It was mostly my friends who would keep me in the loop.

Does anyone remember the Bucket Challenge? I believe people started it to raise awareness for a disease, and challenged others to donate to the cause, or pour a bucket of icy water on themselves. It looked like so much fun! (I imagined dumping a bucket of cold water down my brother’s back, and I was sold.)

A long time ago, my friend and I decided we should do the challenge. Just for laughs and giggles. To post it though, we had to get the SnapChat app. (Make a note: Our parents agreed we were too young to have a social media account, so this was illegal to our preteen minds).

We posted our videos of getting a plastic bowl worth of ice water splashed onto ourselves, and posted it. We thought we were such rebels.

I didn’t feel like a rebel when my mom found out.

She warned me of all the dangers of social media, like how someone could track us down, or our future selves would have to live with a video of preteen us soaked to the bone for the rest of our lives.

We both got grounded and had to delete the account. After that experience, I always had a hard time seeing any social media as a good thing.

I got over it after middle school, but still to this day, I don’t see social media as a self-care treatment. Self-care for me is taking a step away from the normal everyday routine. While social media is no longer the Monster-in-the- closest, I still try to keep it out of my care routine.

Read Students’ Letters to the Future Selves