College Student Misconceptions That Prevent Relaxation

Study. Work. Socialize. Pause: Take a breather. Stop. Restart. Repeat.

Relatable? 

Being a college student is hard. There is a constant struggle to balance academics, extracurriculars, work, and social relationships. College only lasts four years, and in this time students have the pressure of earning a degree with the highest GPA possible to place ourselves in the best position for higher education or future employment. We then simultaneously have to ensure that we make the most of these four years so that we can look back on these years and feel proud that we lived our youth to the fullest. If you are anything like me, finding the balance between these aspects of your life can be overwhelming at first. I love my friends and family, and I love learning and gaining scientific knowledge. Personally, college rarely feels like a chore because I love what I’m studying and I have been lucky enough to surround myself with amazing friends and be blessed with a supportive family. However, my mind is always juggling between my various commitments and thinking of how to balance academics, extracurriculars and relationships. With all this on my mind, the thought of adding ME into the equation almost never pops up.

Valuing yourself by resting your mind and body is just as important to success as taking an extra practice exam, or rushing to finish that last extra credit assignment your professor just uploaded.

Here are some common misconceptions college students have about rest and relaxation and tips to change them.

  1. 1. “I’m too busy to take a break.”

    My peers, being hardcore science junkies who can't seem to take a break, often justify their lack of relaxation by saying that they are “too busy to take a break”. This is almost never true, and if it is, there is a good chance you are simply doing too much. This idea took a long time for me to wrap my mind around as well. This is just one among many misconceptions that college students have that prevent them from being able to relax and induce stress.

    Take out a blank sheet of paper and write out every commitment in your life. Plan out the days and times in each week that you are going to allocate to that commitment and make sure that you can fit everything into your schedule while accounting for a healthy sleep schedule and at least 1 hour of relaxation per day. If you can’t fit everything you’re doing, sleep, and relaxation into a schedule, you are doing too much. Think about what can be delegated or pushed off to a later semester.

  2. 2. “My Venti Iced Coffee can make up for my all nighter.”

    Coffee not = sleep. No matter how many times you tell yourself it is.

    Shocking, I know. How many of you have had an 8 a.m. essay due and decided to pull an all nighter, telling yourself that if you chug a Venti Starbucks Iced Coffee you’ll be all set to take on all of the challenges you have lined up the next day. I once went three days with no sleep my Freshman year of college. Let’s just say I was determined to never do that again. From experience, I can tell you that a venti iced coffee and 8 hours of sleep are not the same thing. Instead of a well rested and focused version of yourself, you will present a jittery and less than optimal version of yourself. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night is just as important as that extra set of practice problems you want to do before your exam. Your mind is one of the most powerful tools in the world but like any other powerful machine, it needs to recharge. Plan ahead and be sure to give yourself enough time to sleep.

    One tip is to put sleep into your calendar as if it is an important task you have to do. If you color code your calendar, assign sleep the same color as your classes, or an important meeting.

  3. 3. “I can’t say no!”

    Your sorority sister asks you to go out for dinner, your family wants you to start packing to go back home for the weekend, you have two essays due and three exams the next week, you want to go to office hours for a tough class, you want to catch up with some of your closest friends you haven’t seen since freshman year, you have to write an article for a blog you’re passionate about, AND you have to look perfect for your 8 a.m. class because you never know who you might run into on campus. Basically every thought that comes into my head first thing in the morning. All that = STRESS. One of the most frequent causes of stress in college students is the feeling of having too many obligations that you value and the fear of missing out. Although college is the time to expand your boundaries and be able to explore all that college has to offer, it can get too overwhelming if you feel as though you must accept every offer to go out or study. Learning to say no is just as important as saying yes. Sometimes choosing yourself over others is better not only for you, but also for those that depend on you.

    If you need a self care day to stay in, read a good book or binge watch your favorite TV show, do it. Your friends have all had those days. You will be a better rested and productive version of yourself and at the end of the day, you will be a better asset to all those who depend on you.

Relaxing your mind and body is crucial to being the best version of yourself that you can be. Don’t be afraid to slow down if you feel like you need to. Treat yourself by giving your mind and body a break. Throughout my years in college, I have learned the importance of resting your mind and body and prioritizing yourself when needed. Overworking yourself prevents you from being able to present the best version of yourself. You can only be as productive as your mind and body let you be, and who doesn’t want to be their best selves? College is stressful, but remember that YOU are always a priority.