When I was a kid I used to read a lot. I would read anything and everything devouring books for up to 11 hours straight a day. When I went into high school I stopped reading as much and it took me a longer time to finish reading books. But I still kept a good relationship with my school librarian and read often.
When I moved to college I stopped reading for pleasure altogether. School and leadership roles took over and my career was more important than taking time for myself. At least that’s how it’s felt for the last 4 years.
Even though I’ve gotten even busier this last semester I’ve started making time to read again. Over winter break my grandma bought me two new books. “Carve the Mark” by Veronica Roth and “Shadow Falls: The Beginning” by C. C. Hunter. I started over the break with the Shadow Falls book and immediately bought the rest of the books. When I went back to school I was on book four of six. I needed to know what happened so I carved out time to read in my day.
I noticed some things when I started making time to read again. First, I noticed my writing got better. Not only did I have more inspiration to write and a better time driving off writers’ block, but I also my writing quality increased. I also became less stressed. You would think adding something into my schedule would make me more stressed, but forcing myself to just make time for me worked to help my anxiety and depression. I feel more centered when I take at least 20 minutes a day to just lose myself in a book. It helps me destress so I can face my busy days in a more calm manner.
When I read I designate it as me time, I put my phone on silent and I don’t answer anything for at least an hour (sometimes because of my leadership roles I do have to check my phone every hour especially if I’m reading for a few hours all at once). It’s helped me say no to some things and focus on my own mental health instead of pushing myself too hard.
I think as college students we’re pressured to say yes to everything and do as much as we can to get experience towards a degree and career, but I’ve learned lately that taking this time to myself and saying no to the rest of the world is helping me achieve even more. It gives me a calmer headspace so I’m able to get more done without stressing. As a student leader, the most important lesson I’ve learned is to make time to read.