Making Time for Myself
As the semester moves from Thanksgiving break into finals, now
is a better time than ever to stress the importance of self-care,
which has a reputation of being a glamorous luxury that requires a
lot of time and money. While this is far from the case, it is also
more than just mentally checking out and watching Netflix for a few
Jana and her sorority sisters used their study breaks to prepare
to participate in SongFest; their theme "Game of Thrones."
As an average college student, I find myself under a lot of
pressure to perform well in school, be involved in extra curricular
activities, hold a job, maintain a social life, stay healthy, and
keep my room clean. Even though that last one tends to fall lower
on my list of priorities, I still struggle to make time for all
aspects of my busy life, let alone to take care of myself.
According to PsychCentral, self-care is defined as any
activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our
mental, emotional, and physical health. That can mean different
things to different people, but there are a few things to consider
when thinking about your own self-care:
1. Self-care is a way to recharge and replenish, not take
As much as I love watching of all my TV shows, I found that I
was not getting the relief I needed from a chronically stressful
environment by mindlessly turning on "The Office" for the seventh
time. Rather, activities that are engaging, yet still relaxing,
have proven to be the better option. By reading a book has been my
go-to downtime activity this past semester, for example, I am able
to give my eyes a break from screens and lose myself in a story
that is not visually presented to me; it is a personal, cozy
pastime that also gives my brain some exercise. Be it reading a
book, spending time outside, or even watching something
different on TV, the time set aside for self-care is
precious and is meant to be a way to give back to yourself.
2. Instead of an occasional treat, self-care is most effective
when incorporated into everyday life.
Jana and her friends enjoyed a Sunday afternoon at Messina Hoff
after a long week of tests.
Some people meditate for a few minutes every morning; others hit
the gym everyday after class. This aspect of self-care requires
establishing a routine and knowing how you work most efficiently.
Most days I feel like a ping-pong ball bouncing between school and
work and friends and studying. The name of the game for me is
frequent, short breaks. Right before classes started, a friend told
me about this wonderful app from NPR called NPR One. Since
downloading this free app, I have discovered that NPR is so much
more than morning news and documentaries about obscure subjects
(though those have proven to be really, really cool). Ranging from
three to 45 minutes, incredibly enriching podcasts and radio shows
that cross dozens of subjects serve as perfect intermissions to my
day. Now, I look forward to my drives across town and walks between
class buildings. Integrating self-care of any form into daily
practice reduces and prevents anxiety and stress, leaving room for
positivity and productivity.
3. Self-care is not selfish.
This final point addresses the perception of self-care. From a
young age we are encouraged to give to and care for the people
around us, to always work our hardest and try our best. It can be
uncomfortable to bring something new into your lifestyle that seems
to be solely for personal relaxation and pleasure. As a student
working toward attending veterinary school, I have drilled the
ideas of working hard, pushing my limits, and not stopping until
the letters D, V, and M are behind my name; it has become the core
of my undergraduate career. While determination and giving 100
percent are keys to success, I have learned you cannot get there
running on fumes alone. In order to reach my full potential as a
student, employee, ambassador, daughter, friend, and vet school
applicant, I must take care of myself mentally, emotionally, and
physically. In doing so, I am able to put my best foot forward when
it comes to supporting the people in my life.
While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of self-care
characteristics or activities, I hope this serves to stimulate
delving further into understanding the importance of self-care and
discovering which techniques work best for you. Start that journal,
make time for that fitness class, or stop being afraid to talk to a
Self-care is meant to build healthier, happier people, and
healthier, happier people tend to do better on finals.