The trend of self-care routines with spa days and positive affirmations is a lovely one, no one can argue with that. However, it’s easy to become wrapped up in the image of self-care that you may see trending on twitter — the candle-lit bubble baths and avocado face masks. Taking care of yourself is more than that, and isn’t always pretty. Sometimes you have to take care of yourself the way a strict mom takes care of her son by not letting him buy a chocolate bar at the grocery store. Self-care isn’t indulging in all of your wants and avoiding all your stressors, it can sometimes be engaging in scary or challenging activities if that’s what you need to do and it’s important to maintain a healthy view of self-care in order to effectively take care of yourself.

For those in school, the end is approaching. The appeal of summer vacation is relentless; what’s the point of studying if there are only three more weeks left of school? Motivation is at an all-time low, so the idea of covering up procrastination as “taking a well-deserved break” is an easy trap to fall into. The fact is that to study for upcoming quizzes, tests and finals may be what you need to do in order to best take care of yourself.

Everyone knows that teenagers should be getting 8 to ten hours of sleep a night, but going to bed at 8:30 with a pile of unfinished homework is not the way to avoid stress the next day. Balance the remainder of your night wisely, and try and get as much work done as you can. Don’t stay up excessively late, but push yourself to finish all of your work efficiently. If an all-nighter is your only option in order to pass a class, pull that all-nighter.

Prioritize mental health above school work, but still maintain the priority and diligence essential to doing well in school.

Instead of spending hours searching Twitter threads for a god-send of a skin care routine, try putting your phone down, cleaning the screen and drinking a glass of water. I won’t pretend it’ll clear your acne immediately, or even ever, but drinking more water will probably fix about 60 percent of your problems, since that’s how much of our bodies consists of it. I can guarantee you that no pressed juice or organic kombucha can nourish your body the way a glass of water can. Drinking enough water (on average, half your body weight in ounces) daily is crucial to maintaining your overall health and has benefits evident in every aspect of your life. Make proper hydration your best friend, even if it doesn’t clear your skin up immediately.

Skin care is important, but keep in mind that break outs and acne are completely normal.

If I can stress only one thing, it’s let your skin be skin.

Be gentle on yourself. Don’t go popping and covering up every pimple. While an inconvenience, skin issues and blemishes do nothing to devalue your beauty and importance as a human being. You are radiant when your skin is glowing and clear, and you are stunning when your skin is dry or oily or covered in acne scarring. Keep your expectations realistic and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to meet a certain standard of the “healthy, natural, goddess” that self-care hype tends to revolve around.

Finally, that $90 face mask is not the key to self-care and self-love. Loving and taking care of yourself is absolutely free, even if you do choose to treat yo’ self from time to time. Self-care routines can be as simple as drinking enough water, getting your work done and moisturizing! Do some squats once a week, eat a pineapple – do whatever the heck you want. But not just what you want, take care of yourself by doing what your body wants. Even if you really want a venti s’mores Frappuccino from Starbucks, the right choice may be skipping the caffeine altogether for a tumbler of cucumber water.

Taking care of yourself isn’t always pretty, but it is always worth it.

Voted Thanks!