During the first few crazy weeks of the semester, it is (unfortunately) so easy to forget to put yourself and your health first. I’ve had a problem with this every semester, until I finally realized my own mental and physical health was deteriorating before my eyes a few weeks into my spring semester sophomore year. The importance of good mental health goes missing under the number of syllabi we receive and the assignments upon assignments with due dates that come too quickly. Physical health, even if you’re a student athlete, can easily be deprioritized under upcoming test dates, club meetings, and games.
This semester is the first semester I’ve made a conscious effort to always take time for myself when I feel I need it, instead of ignoring it and pushing myself beyond my own personal limits. Last year, I watched my physical health wane by the time October rolled around and I became endlessly sick, super lethargic, and never got anything done on time. In retrospect, I realized I was devoting too much time trying to be unrealistically perfect in all areas of my life. Overcommitting to things is what killed me. I needed to step away from this mentality and expect realistic things from myself. I had to understand that I was a human, not Supergirl. Coming to terms with this was my first step, but putting it into practice was something completely different.
My internship was the biggest commitment taking up most of my time, and I figured I needed to start there. Luckily, at the time, I had an extremely relatable, understanding boss who was flexible with my choices to dial back my hours and involvement. She not only understood my concerns, but encouraged me to do more things that put me and my health first instead of other things. I bought a journal to collect my thoughts, relied more on my planner, and let go of the things that weren’t making my life more fruitful.
Controlling only what I can control became my key to learning what I needed to take a step back from. Studying for quizzes and tests is always going to be a must in college, but I had to learn I can’t control anything after I submit my paper or quiz on Moodle. Stressing after the fact does nothing but make things worse. I needed to let go of things I felt weren’t meant for me; like clubs and commitments I tied myself to that ended up stressing me out more than they added to my resume, and more importantly, my livelihood.
Taking a break from the stressors allowed me to reflect on what exactly made me happy and how I can add more of that to my life. I joined clubs I’ve always been interested in and dropped ones that I felt didn’t connect with me. I’ve always been a mix between an introvert and extrovert. But, finding ways to disconnect, knowing when to turn my phone off, and spend time with only myself for a while has helped me in ways I never thought was possible. This taught me how to become self-aware and reflect on things that usually would get lost in the noise. I got back into reading, writing, and spending time with the ones who make me the happiest. Disconnect to be able to reconnect.
College is the time where we are able to create and become the people we want to be. If you want to change everything about yourself and completely start over, you can. If you want to learn new things about yourself, you can. If you think you’re perfect and want to stay the complete same, you can (If this describes you, you’re extremely lucky and need to teach me your ways). Becoming your best self is a key to success in college and it is impossible to do that without consciously taking the best possible care of yourself every day.
Whether your idea of self-care is putting on a chill Spotify playlist and laying down, reading a good book, going to a salon and enjoying a spa day, writing in a journal to collect your thoughts, or like my friend Rachel always says, “just do a face mask and move on,” we must respect ourselves and put ourselves first in this crazy, exciting, occasionally volatile time in our lives. Even though it is so easy to forget sometimes, we have nothing if we don’t have our health. The grades, the guys, and the success in college will all come, but only if we start by putting ourselves and our health first before anything else.