Self Care Tips for College Students on a Budget

Olive Branch Therapy Group
4 min readMar 16, 2023

It goes without saying that college can be stressful. Test anxiety, full course loads, financial worries, relationships, and much more can overwhelm anyone. It’s no surprise that nearly 39% of college students report struggling with at least one mental illness. So what’s a college student to do to help mitigate all this stress and anxiety, without worrying about spending too much money?

“Self care” seems to be the new buzz words when it comes to mental health. Whatever you’d like to call it, the point remains the same: you deserve to take time out of your busy college schedule to de-stress and really focus on yourself. Just like you care for your body when it gets sick, your mental health relies on you to take the time to slow down and “breathe easy.”

Here are 11 self care tips for college students that won’t cause extra stress by breaking the bank:

1. Take a walk outside.

Some time in nature does the body, and mind, good. Get away from that computer screen, even if it’s only for ten minutes, and appreciate the scenery around you. Even if you’re located in a busy city, stepping away from school work and heading to the local park can be a nice break for your overcrowded mind.

2. Write down what you’re grateful for.

Sometimes, to stop the cycle of negative, or anxious thinking, it helps to write down things you are thankful for. By listing what we’re happy to have in our lives, it reminds us that there are indeed good things to look forward to. Journaling in general can also help you clear your burdened mind.

3. Volunteer

Sometimes it helps to get “outside of yourself” and help others. Whether through volunteering at the local animal shelter or offering to help out at a nursing home, volunteering can help build meaningful connections and give your mind a break from your own problems.

4. Do something creative.

It’s perfectly ok to have a little fun and let your mind take a break from studies. Drawing, creative writing, taking pictures, coloring, whatever you like to do. Creativity can even help stimulate your mind in ways that can help with your studies.

5. Take a coffee break.

A cup of coffee can sometimes be just the thing you need. Take a trip to the local coffee shop, or take the time to brew yourself a special cup of joe. While we all know caffeine is a great stimulante, it’s also good to keep in mind that drinking enough water is also important when it comes to staying healthy.

6. Hang out with a friend.

Get out of that dorm room (or apartment/basement/whatever!) Surround yourself with people that appreciate your company and help you grow. College is also a great opportunity to build meaningful relationships, something that is as equally important as education!

7. Take a nap.

We’ve all heard the old adage that college students don’t get enough sleep, but it’s true! Those late nights out partying (or studying) are sabotaging your physical and mental health. Know that when you take the time to take a quick nap, you’re taking care of yourself both in body and mind.

8. Listen to music/a podcast, or read a book.

Breaking away from your current state of mind is easier when you have a good book to read or a favorite album to relax to. Take a trip to the library to pick out something other than a textbook. Don’t want to read? Find new music or a podcast to listen to!

9. Eat a healthy snack.

Just like your body, your mind thrives when it’s treated well. Eating poorly can have negative effects on your state of mind, so take the time to prepare a wholesome snack. Raw fruits and veggies are great inexpensive options.

10. Set some goals.

Find yourself not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel? Preparing for the future can help you destress and motivate you. Set some S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Timely and Realistic,) put them somewhere you’ll see everyday, and last, but not least, don’t forget to reward yourself when you accomplish them!

11. Go to therapy.

You might be pleasantly surprised that yes, therapy can be affordable. Therapy is an excellent way to relieve emotional distress and treat mental illnesses. When researching therapy, look into whether your insurance covers mental health care, and which therapists accept your insurance. If your insurance isn’t covered, or insurance isn’t an option for you, don’t be afraid to ask about payment options. Here at Olive Branch Therapy Group, we accept multiple insurances. Some of our therapists even have sliding payment scales. Find a therapist that resonates with you and give our team a call.

We hope these tips will help you thrive and mitigate the stress that college can sometimes cause. You deserve a break every once in a while!

If you need any additional assistance with managing stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, the team at Olive Branch Therapy Group are always here for you. Feel free to contact us today!