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Why I Decided to Focus on Myself this Semester

Last year most of my classes were online, and I felt like I was constantly drowning in work. From the moment I woke up until 7 p.m., I felt like I was swamped between online classes and assignments. There was no point where the work stopped flooding in because we were easily accessible.

Between the insane amount of work and not leaving my apartment a ton, I began to feel discouraged and isolated. I lost almost all motivation to succeed, and I was burnt out by the end of the school year.

Over the summer, my mental health started gradually recovering to a point where I felt like myself again, but I dreaded returning to school and losing all of that progress. I knew that this semester had to be different for me, so I decided to make a major change to focus on myself. I want to share why I decided to make that change and what “focusing on yourself” entails.

I decided to focus on myself because I needed to protect my mental health. For years, I prioritized school, activities, and other things that I deemed essential above my mental health, and it got to a point where I couldn’t continue that same pathway of thinking.

To me, focusing on yourself means putting yourself and your needs above anything else. This was something that I had never done before, so it took me time to figure out how I would do that. 

One way I’ve been focusing on myself is by saying no. In years past, whenever people would ask me to do anything, I would drop whatever I was doing and hang out with them. I did this because I was worried that they would not ask me to hang out again if I said no. I realized that by not saying no, I was not putting my own needs first, which stressed me out. Now, if I am busy doing homework or need time to myself, I am not afraid to say no. Setting this boundary has helped me, and I strongly recommend saying no even if you fear missing out. 

I am always focusing on a million different things, and I forget that I will burn out if I don’t slow down. So, another way I keep myself from burning out is by making time for myself. Every Sunday, no matter if I have assignments due or prior commitments, I take time to relax. This has become my favorite time of the week. It is a time for me to recharge before the next week and the challenges it will bring. I highly encourage giving yourself an hour or more a week to do the same.

The final way I’ve been focusing on myself is by writing down my emotions and actually talking about what I’ve been going through. In the past, I bottled up my emotions and didn’t let anything out until I burst. It was such an unhealthy way of dealing with things, and while I had always recognized that, I had never tried to fix it.

I used to journal whenever I was really upset, but I stopped doing that when I got to school. Now that I started journaling again, I feel so much more in touch with my emotions because I can let them out in a healthy way.

Along with journaling, I realized that my friends had no idea what I was going through. So, I decided to tell some of them more, and they were incredibly understanding. It felt like I had lifted a weight off of my shoulders, and I am never going back to bottling up my emotions. By focusing on my feelings, I can better understand why I feel the way I do and improve my mental health.

Overall, focusing on myself has made me a much happier person. Obviously, there are days when I feel stressed and upset, but I have gotten so much better as a whole. The mindset of focusing on myself is something that I will take with me into the future, and I highly encourage everyone to do the same. 

Focus on yourself, collegiates!

Reese Bernstein is a junior 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.
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