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Better Balance: 6 Things I’m Working On Not Feeling Guilty For

In a culture that values hard work, constantly remaining busy and being vocal about it on social media, it is easy to fall into a trap where you are comparing yourself to others and feeling guilty about certain habits. If I’ve learned anything over the past few years between high school and college, it is that mental health is everything, and you can’t perform your best in any area of life if you feel constantly stressed, sad or not enough. This fall quarter, as we transition back into in-person classes, I am interacting with more and more people, and have started to fall into the trap of thinking that I am lazy or not doing enough. Here are six things I’m working on not feeling guilty about:

Taking Power Naps During The Day

Listening to your body and not pushing it is key. As I’ve readjusted to dorm life, the first half of fall quarter, I struggled sleeping at night, making me tired during the day. When I’m sleepy, I’m more prone to mood swings and become very emotional. I can also make careless mistakes or become slower in my work. Therefore, I take power naps. Even if it’s only 12:30 in the afternoon and I’ve only had one class and lunch, I still lie down and honor what my body is telling me. When I start to feel guilty about giving myself a break, I rationalize. If I wake up from this nap feeling more rested, I’ll get my work done faster and feel better while doing it. Also, due to a medical condition, when my body gets tired, it lets me know by inflaming my inner chest wall, which is as painful and uncomfortable as it sounds. It’s important I prevent that symptom from happening, so I honor my body’s needs. Staying in tune with your body is a challenge, and there are some days where I’m too busy and drink some coffee and suck it up. However, 90% of the time, I listen to what my head is telling me, and waking up feeling better is more gratifying than forcing myself through a sleepy state. Sleep is important for your physical and mental health.

Taking A Break From Studying To Exercise

A post-quarantine goal of mine was to get back on a steady workout routine, and I’m happy to say that I’ve been fairly successful in accomplishing that goal. Creating this regiment did not come without its challenges. Taking time to do a 45-minute cardio video or 30-minute ab workout made me sometimes feel uneasy because I knew it was time I could be using to finish up my long chapters of reading or even do projects for my extracurriculars. However, not to sound like a middle school gym teacher, but exercise has so many great benefits for your body. It channels excess energy and nerves and also encourages you to make other healthy choices. The days I’m active, I find myself having more balanced meals and falling asleep quicker. Finishing an exercise also gives you a similar sense of accomplishment as when you complete an assignment, especially if it’s a more challenging workout. You should never feel sorry for physically taking care of your body, even if it causes you to balance some things. In five to ten years, you’ll probably be grateful you remained active rather than sitting at a desk all day.

Having Cheat Days On Weekends

As I exercise more, I try to make healthy choices when eating. In addition to working out more, I also had a weight loss goal after putting on a few pounds during quarantine. Throughout my journey, I tried to remember how balance is key with everything else, the same thing goes for food. Therefore, I allowed myself cheat days on weekends and did not deny myself the things I enjoy. Whether I was eating In-n-Out after a football game with friends or having an orange chicken dinner from Rende, I remember that it is not inherently bad to have these things, especially because I was still seeing the changes I wanted. This mindset has helped improve my relationship with food as well. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself!

Taking A Smaller Credit Load

I take three classes per quarter. As I transition to primarily upper-division classes, this has decreased my credit load compared to my earlier quarters at UCLA. I often feel uneasy seeing how many units I still have during enrollment appointments. Plus, I hear about my friends who are taking anywhere from two to five more credits than me. When this happens, I ask myself the following questions: Am I still going to graduate on time? Am I remaining busy between classes, extracurriculars, and any extra work such as volunteering or internships? If the answer is yes to both of these questions, then there should not be a problem. This smaller number does not define my work ethic if my time is still filled with studying or doing things I love to build my resume. Everyone can handle a different amount of work, and you shouldn’t feel bad if your schedule looks different than the people around you.

Not Being A Stem Major

I’m a communication major, film minor. Not going to lie, my major does not have the best reputation, and we are often stereotyped as lazy, unintelligent, partiers, and my list can go on. Just a few weeks ago, I was on the phone crying to my mom about whether or not I was making the right choice and if what I was studying had any value. I’m not like my friends who study cadavers or are looking at medical schools to apply to. My mom had to remind me that I have other valuable traits. I may not like math or science, but I’m creative, love writing and forming connections with people through different outlets. Not everyone can do that, and the world needs people like us. Would I rather study something I despise just so I can say I’m a “STEM major?” No, especially because I can’t picture myself enjoying another major besides communication. Not enough people talk about how UCLA can have a toxic culture of south campus vs. north campus. While many comments are jokes, there are definitely digs when south campus STEM majors humor about working harder and having more to do than people on north campus. Just because our disciplines are different, doesn’t mean that we aren’t hardworking or determined people, and if someone tries to make you feel that way, then they are the problem, not you.

Making Plans With Friends

Take study breaks to hang with your friends! You have not seen them in person for 18 months or they are awesome people you just met. Either way, after a year and a half of being on a computer and Zoom socials, get up from your desk and go get coffee with your friends!

The people who say self-care is the best care are not being cliche. Taking breaks, rewarding yourself, listening to your body and doing what you love are not things that should be punished. Next time you feel guilty about doing any of the above tasks or your own form of balance or self-care, remember that the long-term benefits are so amazing. Practicing these now will help you prepare for the real world out of college, and that is nothing to be guilty for.

BriannaRose is a UCLA Communications major and Film/TV minor who aspires to break boundaries and stigmas. As an aspiring creative director, she works on student films and photography projects, and has professional experience in both fashion public relations and internal communications for cable. In addition to writing, BriannaRose volunteers at local animal shelters and competes in pageants. She currently represents the city of West Hollywood in the National American Miss system.
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