Life Update: Giving Time to Yourself is Necessary

It’s the season of giving! Just kidding, it’s not even Fall and I am already jumping ahead two holidays because if you can’t tell I am excited for colder weather. But honestly, giving should be a year round type of deal; and I don’t just mean being generous to others. Yes, call me a selfish grinch if you want, but I think it’s just as important for you to give time to yourself as well as for others. Speaking from personal experience, running yourself into the ground with stress isn’t sustainable or healthy. After a year of overpointing with classes, spreading myself too thing with extracurricular responsibilities, and justifying staying up to the wee hours to finish all of my assignments earlier than was really necessary, I have come to the realization that you can be a hardworking, independent student without running on five hours of sleep. Who would have thought?

By the end of this article, I hope to convince you that it is not only okay, but crucial that you incorporate down time in your daily schedule whether you are a college student or managing a full time job. I will share not only how to include time for yourself into a busy schedule, but more importantly explain why this is so important for your mental and physical health. 

 

  1. 1. Beauty sleep is real, it’s not just a princess thing

    This is kind of obvious, but I am going to bark up this tree anyway. You know how your doctor, counselor, friends, mom, grandma, dad, cat, and fish all tell you that it’s really important to get those seven or eight hours of REM cycle sleep every night? Well, I am here to say that they aren’t feeding you fake news. I know it can be really hard to justify going to sleep before 11 PM — or maybe even earlier if you want to get crazy — when you want to binge Friends or finish a draft of your English essay because the creative juices are flowing and what’s one all nighter in the grand scheme of things, really. But, hear me out: if you truly stay focused on your assignments and work hard throughout the day, it will feel less stressful stopping work before 10 PM so you can have time to relax and get into bed at the same time the boys down your hall finally turn down their music. I realize that not everyone is a morning person, so what I suggest is figuring out what time you want to wake up in the morning and go to bed at night and then, if you have an iPhone, use the Bedtime feature so that you receive reminders every day to go to bed and wake up at those set times. With more sleeps comes less puffy eyes, more stamina for the day ahead, and a better outlook on life. 

  2. 2. Take time to catch up on news, social media, or whatever is important to you

    In today’s society, we are constantly on our phones pursuing Instagram or reading tweets. I don’t know if I am the only one that feels this way, but sometimes I feel like I don’t even have enough time to go through my Instagram feed. I mean, that’s kind of sad as it probably takes ten minutes. Some may say that you should just delete all of your social media and I don’t disagree, but at this point I feel too entrenched to back out and retreat to the Dark ages of Temple Run and taking selfies on my family’s iPad. Sometimes going on social media just makes me feel more antsy and I begin to view it as just another task I need to check off on my to-do-list. 

    Instead, I suggest you reflect on what means of news and information are important to you and dedicate time in your day to go through these platforms. Perhaps you scroll through your feed or read the newspaper while you eat breakfast and take a break in the afternoon to catch up some articles from your favorite publication. I will often listen to podcast or watches videos by my favorite YouTubers while I work out or at the end of the day. I cannot lie when I say that my sanity might improve if I just stick to The New York Times, but sometimes the habitual action of clicking through my Instagram stories takes my mind off of the daily stresses in life.

  3. 3. Revert back to (a minimum) 30-minute meal times

    Remember when you were in elementary school and you had a thirty minute lunch period and then a ten minute (or more depending on how well behaved you were prior) recess? I think college students should reclaim this tradition. For breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all the snacks in between, I highly recommend leaving your work behind and being in the moment. Enjoy the food you are fortunate enough to have access to and listen to your friends as they share highlights from their day. Or take a book with you to the dining hall or catch up on your social media. Either way, do your best to treat meals as not only moments to renourish your body, but also a built-in break in your day. I will be honest that I do not always take my own advice (what else is new), but I am trying. I am trying real hard to put down my pen and stop typing away on my laptop and just savor each mouthful of food and focus on my friend’s presence because college doesn’t last forever and soon we will no longer be able to share meals everyday.

  4. 4. Take time to be active, whatever that means for you

    Warning, this is your mom talking to you again. But, seriously, it is important to be active in some shape or form everyday as it really does help improve your mental state. Whether this means going for a run around campus, lifting weights and doing squats in the gym, following along to yoga tutorials on YouTube, or taking a walk with a friend, at least 30 minutes of movement a day will recenter your mind. I cannot count the times I have felt so nervous for a test I had been studying all day for or spending hours working on an essay, that my mom had to push me out the door and force me to take some time for myself and go to the gym. Now I start my weekdays with a 30 to 45 minute workout and I find that my taking this time to myself in the morning, I feel more focused throughout the day and can better handle any stressful moments that be thrown my way. 

  5. 5. Don’t view self-care as a chore

    I think something I personally struggle with is differentiating finishing a new sitcom series on Netflix or listening to a podcast as equivalent to finish a reading for my English class. Self-care has become a trend that can be equated to fancy face masks and celery juice, but in the basic sense it is taking time to yourself and figuring out what helps you relax. This looks different for everyone, but is important that we all practice this routine. Being busy is good, but it is just as vital to know your limits and understand that you do not need to do all the things, pick what is most important to you and don’t forget to add self-care to the list.

I know this list may be counterintuitive to giving time to yourself (why follow a list when you can just flop into your bed?), but I find reflecting on what does and doesn't work, helps you make your designated relaxing time more meaningful. Disclaimer: these tips may not work for you, but that is the journey of self-care and mindfulnes. Ultimately, if you set time aside whether for fifteen minutes or fifty, you will feel recharged whether you spend that time taking a nap or perusing your Instagram feed.