Being a full-time student can be… overwhelming. Often, as the year goes by, we feel like we are unable to cope. With only 24 hours in a day, we have to do work, manage to get 8 hours of sleep, eat well, exercise, rest (because that’s equally important), and not to mention have free time to do things we actually enjoy doing, all while being on a student budget. FML, am I right?
When the busiest time of the semester comes around, I felt so overwhelmed by deadlines. However, during this time, I actually managed to do everything else relatively well. I relatively ate well, exercised somewhat regularly, met all deadlines and even managed to get in my 8 hours of sleep most days. The moment I would go onto Instagram, however, I immediately felt overwhelmed by self-doubt and found that I had an inability to cope. I would tell myself that I was stuck working on an assignment at home while others were enjoying the first few sunny days of spring. I felt like I struggled to find equilibrium because being on social media made me have the perception that I was hardly exercising, and not eating as well as I should. To me, it seemed like others on social media seemed to have it all put together, whereas I was barely coping. So, I decided to take a 3 week “social media detox” in order to gain some perspective.
Surprisingly, I didn’t miss social media at all. Instead, I expressed more gratitude in the present moment. I no longer took photos because it was “Instagram worthy”, but rather, because I enjoyed the present moment so much, I wanted to capture it. Sometimes, I would even leave my phone at the bottom of my bag and simply enjoyed that long walk while having a great conversation with my friend, or enjoy that much-needed chocolate slab (without any guilt).
When I woke up every morning, I had a great routine of hydrating first thing, and then stretching (instead of reaching for my phone to aimlessly scroll online). I started living with one aim: just having experiences. When I ate, I focused on enjoying it and felt gratitude for the food that was nourishing my body. I also allowed myself to be selfish and have proper downtime when I felt I needed it. I went out when I had the time to do so and therefore, I could fully enjoy myself. Instead of feeling obligated to go out or feel like I had to go out otherwise I was missing out by working on an assignment all weekend while others seemed to have a fun night out.
But most importantly, I developed a great relationship with the most important person in my life: me. The self-talk I had with myself within those few weeks wasn’t rooted in doubt, negativity and a constant feeling of not being able to measure up. It was rooted from confidence, self-love and self-worth. I praised my body for the focus it was capable of having or what it could do during stressful, busy times. I also patted myself on the back for being able to squeeze in a single work out during a busy week, instead of feeling discouraged for not being as consistent as my favourite fitness Instagram models who would kill an intense workout six days per week.
I also realized that I am not missing out on anything because I already do everything I enjoy doing. I am doing the best I can do considering that, sometimes, life just happens. So, even though at times, we are too busy to do anything but work, find gratitude in being in a good mental space where you are able to work consistently and have a daily purpose. Even though, at times, we are unable to consistently exercise and eat well, realize that health is a continuous journey, full of ups and downs. If it’s not a priority right now, that’s okay because life goes on, and we are not the same people we were last week, or even a day ago. So when the mood strikes, take advantage of it! Even if that means doing squats while catching up on the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
Taking a break from social media frees up mental space you didn’t even realize you had lost. So, once I downloaded the social media platforms again, I did so with a clear headspace knowing that I am ready to go back. I was able to appreciate being uniquely me so much more and what I have to be grateful for.