These past two weeks have been . . .vexing, to say the least (and I’m not alone!). I personally had two exams on a Friday, another exam the following Tuesday, another exam the following Thursday, and finally a quiz and a 10 page SINGLE SPACED paper due on the second Friday on top of work and extracurricular involvement. I didn’t want to work anymore. I was being attacked with a stuffy nose and endless coughs – courtesy of my cold. I also couldn’t function without at least two cups of coffee a day.
The reason I’m telling you all this is not because I just want to complain (okay, a little bit), it’s to make a point. My work load isn’t special – nearly everyone has this amount of work or more. The problem is how college students tend to handle it, and we all handle it differently. I’m the type of person who pushes through- but not without my daily breakdowns. Other people might lose themselves in a sea of anxiety and completely give up. No matter what YOU personally do, there is something we all have in common. Our MENTAL HEALTH matters.
Mental health is something easy to forget about and push aside. We all have to live up to a certain set of expectations, whether its good grades, balancing work and study, etc. We ignore it because it’s not convenient. If we take the time to relax we can’t finish our work. We can’t ace that test. We won’t succeed.
Why should our exhaustion and pain be the measure of our success?
I’m not saying we’re justified in being lazy. I’m saying we should have a right to take care of ourselves. If that means that we miss one minor assignment – so be it! If that means that one grade doesn’t turn out so well, who cares? You are worth so much more than grades, and exams, and clubs, and everything. Don’t fall into the hole of self loathing.
I’m writing this now after the two weeks of what seemed like torture and now, I’m in awe of how much I handled . Human bodies are amazing. We can do so much. There’s no reason to be hard on ourselves. That’s why this Thanksgiving, in the spirit of being grateful for what you have, devote some time to practicing self care, recharging and being thankful for yourself.
Make yourself a cup of tea or hot chocolate! Sleep in until after noon! Take a bubble bath! Spend some time running or dancing! Marathon a few movies! Play a board game with your family!
It’s going to be tempting to study and do work, and you still can! However, you should also make sure you fill up most of your time with relaxation and good food.
Think about it, when you get the flu, you stay in bed, you drink your medicine, and you get better. When you get the mental health blues, your medicine is just some good ol’ fashioned eating, sleeping, and recharging. No need to feel guilty. Statistics show you’re going to be more productive in the long run if you recharge.
Even so, living on campus shouldn’t mean that you save your self care for holidays at home. You can do these things in your dorm. You can sleep, you can eat, and you can watch plenty of Netflix. Use your friends to cheer you up!
Speaking of friends, I had a few of mine share some tips about practicing self care in the midst of all things horrible.
“Take some time in between assignments to listen to a song that makes you feel powerful.”
“Bake something easy and share it with the people you love – like pre-made cookie dough!”
“Make to do lists with little boxes and when you finish something, check it off!”
“Call someone you love and chat for a few minutes.”
“Stretch for five minutes!”
“Praying, if that’s your thing.””
“Talk to your mom. They have so much wisdom and they lay it down straight!”
“Clean or organize your space. Sometimes a cluttered space leads to a cluttered mind!”
These are just some things you can do really to quick to make you feel normal. Your life isn’t just studying. It’s up to you to fill it all in with the fun stuff!
However, if you’re in school and having trouble handling it all, visit CAPS to get some help. You matter too much to push your mental health away!
Good luck, kids, and have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving!