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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UVA chapter.

Let’s be vulnerable for a second. Life is hard. It can be especially hard when your life seems to revolve around work and academia. It sometimes seems like I don’t do anything but work, go to class, do homework, or sleep. But that’s not healthy! Something I’ve learned over the past few years is that I need to set some boundaries and make sure that, while I’m getting my work done, I still make time to take care of and advocate for myself. That can be hard to do, but I’ve developed a few things that I do throughout the week, small and large, to make sure I’m taking care of myself.

First, I always make sure that I have a sweet treat. I have a huge sweet tooth, and something that incentivizes me to get through my work and reward myself is having something sweet at the end of the day or week. Personally, I love ice cream, but for you, it could be cookies, candy, or whatever you want! Something that makes this even better is turning this into an activity, like baking cookies with your roommates! Doing this is not only a reward, but it’s a way to rejuvenate yourself and get more in touch with yourself and those around you. I love making cookies or croissants with my boyfriend at the end of the week: highly recommend.

Something else that I do that has been SO vital is having a “refresh day”. Basically, this is a day that I never go to work, avoid doing school work, cleaning, etc, and just take care of myself. For me, it’s Sundays. I NEVER work on Sundays, and instead, I do an activity that enriches and refreshes my mind and body. Sometimes, I’ll go out into Charlottesville and explore bakeries and bookstores. Sometimes, I’ll stay home and play with my cats and bake. Either way, do something that makes you feel accomplished, rested, and refreshed. And you can do it alone or with someone special, whatever you prefer! But overall, don’t do anything too hard or strenuous. Just do something to refresh and rest. It can be hard to set aside a full day from work and all the other stressors, but it’s really important, even if you can just get a few hours in.

Something else that I try to do (even though it’s kind of hard) is spread my work throughout the week. This is hard because I’m not very disciplined and I’m a huge procrastinator, but it does make my life better. I try to make sure I’m doing a bit of homework every day, instead of staying up super late one night, cramming everything in. I’m always much less stressed when I do this, although it is something I’m still working on every day.

Lastly, it is so important to value rest and sleep. It is so easy not to do this as a college student, especially when you throw working into the mix. But my sleep is so important to preventing illness, burnout, and bad grades. It’s hard, but something I tell myself is that it’s not the end of the world if something doesn’t get done. I’m not supporting never doing any work or readings, but if you don’t do one reading out of three for the week, is that really a big deal? I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be well-rested than not, even if it means I had to skip a reading. And to be honest, it’ll be more obvious to your professors that you didn’t rest enough than if you missed one reading. Take care of yourselves and advocate for your rest!! It’s the most important thing!

Advocating for and taking care of yourself can be hard, especially when you’re not in the habit of it. I definitely wasn’t until recently, but now I know that it’s so important that I do that so I can be more productive and healthy. Hopefully, this can be a message to you to advocate for yourself, rest, and take care. We all need it, not just once in a while, but every day!

Hi I'm Morgan! I use she/they pronouns. I'm a 4th year at the University of Virginia majoring in Art History. My greatest passion is raising my 2 cats. I'm a first gen, low income student living on my own, so if you ever need budget hacks, I'm your gal! Happy to have you here!