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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting on my couch watching Tik Tok at 2:30 p.m. on a Wednesday. That seems like a relatively normal thing to do, right? I thought so too until I realized that that might have been the fourth or fifth time in my entire college career (not counting sophomore year because that was the COVID-19 year) that I was relaxing during the day on the weekday.

My motto has always been, “If I am not out of the house the entire day, then I am not doing something right,” and that’s something I followed religiously during my freshman and junior year. I would fill my time with various activities, errands, homework or whatever other things I deemed productive. Anything that would keep me out of the house and keep me busy. I never understood why I felt this way so I kept following this motto and everything seemed fine. 

When I realized that it was weird for me to be doing nothing on a Wednesday afternoon, I decided to do some thinking as to why I felt that way. It took about an hour of introspecting, writing and staring at my calendar from the past year until I could understand my mindset. I came to the conclusion that there were two reasons behind my thinking. 

The first reason is guilt. When I am not busy, I feel guilty that I am not doing something productive and find ways to make myself busy. When I am busy, I can’t feel guilty that I am wasting my time and it gives me a sense of satisfaction that I am busy. That is not healthy and it can explain why I felt so burnt out by the end of last semester. I never gave myself a break and even though I had the hardest course load of my entire college career, I kept up my never being in the house antics, which left me sleep-deprived and exhausted. 

After realizing that guilt was one of the reasons why I always make myself stay busy, I’ve been trying to retrain my mindset. Instead of feeling bad that for once in my life I’m sitting on Tik Tok relaxing, I try and redirect that thinking to how glad I am that I have a break and to enjoy it. Obviously, it’s not easy, but I’ve gotten better at not allowing the guilt to consume my Tik Tok time.

The other reason behind my inability to relax is my thoughts. I have always hated being alone with my thoughts, not because they are bad or depressing but because being alone with my thoughts causes me to spiral. I will spiral about anything. My homework, my future and even what I am going to have for dinner in the next few hours. If I am busy, I don’t get time to think, which is good for me. 

I now realize that is unhealthy, and I have been trying to get past that. Sometimes I make myself sit there alone with my thoughts, and if I catch myself spiraling, I either let it happen if it’s healthy spiraling or I snap out of it. I am a work in progress, and I can’t say that I’ve completely left the coping mechanism of finding something to occupy my time behind. But hey, I’m trying.

What I am trying to say in all of this is it’s important to take a step back sometimes. Whether in your activities or your daily routine or even in your life. Sometimes it’s good to reevaluate your priorities and realize that there is something you need to be prioritizing more than you do. For me, that was my relaxation time where I can sit there and decompress. 

Taking a step back will help you take a step forward in the long run. 

Reese Bernstein is a senior at Penn State majoring in Psychology with a focus in business. She is from "right outside" of DC in Northern Virginia. Along with writing for Her Campus, Reese is a member of a sorority and occasionally goes to the gym when feeling motivated.