Fine-tune your performance

Line art icon of a person showing compassion and care for themselfLiving life takes a toll on a person. Living life without taking steps to maintain ourselves really takes a toll. Fortunately, we don't have to make self-care our life's work to keep ourselves functioning well. A few minor tweaks to the ways that we think and act throughout the day goes a long way toward keeping ourselves performing at our best.

Self-care is a daily practice

Try including some of these practices in your everyday life. Most of these only take a few minutes or even a few seconds of your attention, or require nothing more than thinking differently about a situation. The choice is yours.

Create calm

  • While walking, breathing in for 4 steps and out for 6 steps can help center yourself and create a mindful moment.
  • Give yourself a 7-second bear hug. Get connected back with your body and provide comfort to yourself.
  • Get outside, standing barefoot on the earth for 5 minutes provides health benefits and can support your circadian rhythm and lower cortisol.
  • Try not to do work in your bed/sleeping space. Let your brain only associate that spot with rest and relaxation.
  • Budget! Having clear boundaries for your finances can help you feel less anxious and more secure.  
  • Laughter IS great medicine. Call your funniest friend, watch a comedy special, read dad jokes out loud. Laughing is great for your mental wellbeing.
  • Feeling frustrated? Write-it out. Suppressing our feelings rarely helps, create a journal for writing out your frustrations. No one else needs to read them or even know they exist but get them outside your brain and onto paper.
  • STOP! Look around the room, find 4 things that are your favorite color and let your eyes rest on them for 5-10 seconds each. Welcome back to your space.
  • It is OK to be upset. Let yourself sit in the feeling and don’t usher it away. By really feeling it, it cannot overwhelm us later.
  • Breathe out of your mouth for an 8 count. Inhale through your nose for a 4 count. Hold your breath for a 7 count. Practice this cycle several times to bring your heart rate down and create peace in your body.

Give yourself a chance to succeed

  • Start small. If you want to add a healthy habit, like meditating, start with small and achievable increments of time or amount. Work your way up and create a lasting habit.
  • Give yourself space to mess up! Practice saying sorry to yourself when you are too hard on you.
  • Begin the day with 3 things you like about yourself, “I like that I am ___” or “I like how I can ____”. Practice kindness towards yourself.
  • At the end of the day remember three things you are proud of. Did you show up to class on time? Maybe you helped your classmate understand the topic. Maybe you scheduled an appointment with peer support. Whatever it is, give yourself a moment to feel proud. Give credit where credit is due!

Take care of your body

  • Take care of your body. Eating well, drinking water, and moving can all support a happy and healthy brain!
  • Tense muscles one area of the body at a time. When you release your muscles enjoy the feeling of relaxation.
  • Keep your sleep cool! Keeping your room at a cooler temperature allows your body to get a better night's rest.
  • Take a break every 20 min of studying/being on the computer, look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. This helps relax your eyes.
  • Don’t shame yourself for yawning! It can help get oxygen into your body and can bring you back to the present.
  • Stretch your hands. Typing all day and scrolling through social media makes our hands tired, try to give them a little stretch to help with blood flow.
  • Disconnect from electronics 15-20 min before bed. Give your eyes and brain a break.
  • Keep backpacks from being too heavy. It is great to work out at the gym but walking with a heavy pack can make us exhausted at the end of the day.

Live more of your best

  • Write down one thing each night that you want to accomplish the next day, make these small and measurable goals.
  • Practice the 3-second rule, think about what you want to say for 3 seconds before you say it. Give your brain time to catch up.
  • Try something out of your comfort zone. Be safe, but also test your limits! Push yourself to be your best.
  • Learn to welcome change. This can be a period of life that is full of change. Make it a habit of welcoming change and enjoying the ride.
  • Write down your “why”. Why is eating healthy important, why do you want to become more mindful, why do you want to start expressing your needs, write down your “why” to better work on your “how”.


  • Try and do one social activity a week. This can be a FaceTime, listening to a song with a friend, making dinner with your roommate, etc. Spend time with people who care about you.
  • Practice saying “no”. Set strong boundaries and keep them. You teach people how to treat you.  
  • When people ask, “how are you?”, tell them the truth. Be authentic to your feelings and let others see those. This also helps others feel safe telling you how they really are.
  • Show gratitude. Tell one person this week that you are grateful for them and why. Spread kindness!
  • Spend time with a furry friend. Animals are great at helping us calm down, be present, and practice love.
  • Reach out for help. FLC, Durango, CO, etc. Has so many resources for support. You are not alone, and we are here to help.
  • What would you tell your best friend? Let’s be real, our brains can be mean to us. It can be helpful to practice what we would tell our best friend if they were telling themselves what our brains tell us.
  • Assert yourself. Trust that you know what you need and ask for it. Be willing to find new solutions but also trust that you know your body and mind.
  • Surround yourself with people who want what’s best for you. Sometimes even our friends who love us can make us feel bad. Find a group of people who lift you up. It is ok to have different friends for different needs.
  • Breathe out of your mouth for an 8 count. Inhale through your nose for a 4 count. Hold your breath for a 7 count. Practice this cycle several times to bring your heart rate down and create peace in your body.