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What No One Tells You About Prioritizing Yourself

Prioritizing yourself is hard. With academics, athletics, extracurriculars, friends, family, and romantic partners demanding our time and energy, college students often find themselves ranking self-care last on their to-do lists. However, self-care alone provides the foundation needed to complete these never-ending lists of tasks. We should prioritize ourselves, but our overworked society has conditioned us to believe that excessive productivity equates with self-worth. It does not. I came across a quote one day that read, “If you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.” The short answer is that there is no short answer. There is no one size fits all for self-care. You have to determine which values, activities, people, and habits that you hold closest to your heart and will help you best. Although I am by no means a mental health guru, I have been trying to improve my overall personal wellness. Here’s what has worked for me:

  1. Challenging long held habits and beliefs: I have considered myself a night person for nearly all of my life. Always exercising and completing homework at night, I convinced myself that my energy simply did not peak until the later hours of the day. However, over winter break, I started waking up at 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning and heading straight to the gym. Rising early opened up my schedule, and as a result, I had one less task hanging over my head. Further, this decreases the time I have to make excuses for not exercising. Now, my friends look at me in amazement when I tell them I’m waking up at 7:00 am (voluntarily) to hit the gym. 
  2. Going out when you want, not just because it’s the weekend: This one has been HUGE for me. Most times when I go out, I wake up in the morning asking myself two questions: “Why did I go out last night?” and “How am I going to bring myself to take on the day?” Although choosing a chill movie night over a house party may lead to some serious FOMO, you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and ready for productivity. 
  3. Calming activities for yourself: Over break, I reflected on which of my habits ground my thoughts and mind. Disclaimer: this looks different for everyone! For me, I find myself most at peace after a fresh shower with a candle lit. After going through my skin-care routine, I usually throw on some folklore or evermore and clean my room. Despite the fact that this may seem like an unimportant habit, my day truly feels incomplete without it. So, I like to make sure that I have at least an hour to slow down, shower, tidy up a little, and get ready for whatever life throws at me next. I also like to fit one or two yoga and mindfulness sessions into my week, ensuring myself a chance to pause, disconnect, and clear my mind.
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Riley Peck

Holy Cross '24

Sophomore at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA
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