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how do you take care of yourself?

Chloe Brenner
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Last week, my new therapist asked me “How do you cope?” Confused at first because I wasn’t sure what she was implying about what I needed to cope with, I started listing strategies I implement weekly to survive the fast moving machine that is Duke. I described to her that my most serene state was probably walking the Al Buehler Trail and listening to “The Daily” or “Hidden Brain” in an effort to escape the Duke bubble. Something about even passing local Durham residents on the trail walking their dogs or spending time with their partners gives me the peace and sense of normalcy I seek. But, I couldn’t seem to think of anything else I rely on regularly to take advantage of the rare moment I carve out for myself at Duke. Sometimes I even find myself worrying that even when I do find a pocket of free time, I am not using it productively enough. In fact, I often find myself sitting at my desk, neck contorted, staring at Instagram Reels and before I know it half an hour has gone by. What else could I do in half an hour? That is what I am seeking to answer, and I have asked experts more knowledgeable than myself. 

I hope that you will turn to this list in moments of confusion, frustration, boredom, and emptiness—but also when you are feeling energized and ambitious. This is a list for all seasons of life, for both at Duke and beyond. While my network helped me put together this rich list of suggestions, I would love to hear from you too! Please feel free to contribute your own responses through this link. Self care does not have to be performative or pretty or persistent, it can be whatever you need it to be whenever you need it.

This Valentines Day, I know I will be happy to have it—and I hope you will too.


Concert by yourself

Music + sing along + dance a little 

Playing the cello/guitar




Driving and listening to music that will allow her to cry and have emotional release 

Buying myself a little treat, beverage (iced chai) 

Putting on an outfit that makes you feel good

Going to a Duke game on a random weekday night 

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Mental health 

Jotting down the things that were good from the day to come back to 


Sleeping in 


Clean my room 

Solitary morning + making bed 

Daily WU breakfast with the 10:15 friend crowd 


Interact with neighbors

Call my mom

Venture to new restaurants with friends  

Creating Intentional friend time 

Thrifting with a friend you miss 

Acts of service/gifts for friends
Board games

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Podcast walk (The Daily)


Playing tennis

Go climbing  

Yoga and dinner date with a friend 




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