by Breanna Adamick
Finding a healthy balance between work, school, social life and personal time is a common struggle for many people, myself included. Ending each school semester, I always tell myself, “OK, I am not going to overlook myself as thoroughly as I did this past semester.” Unsurprisingly, that mindset never seems to work. One thing leads to another, and I find myself figuratively drowning in assignments and commitments.
I am fairly certain I cannot be alone in this. It can be challenging to take a step back and consider where you are before accepting another task, another invitation, another job. At some point, however, the work and busy-ness catches up.
Usually, we all feel such exhaustion by this time around mid-semester – when we hopefully have a fall or spring break coming up – but it is obviously quite possible to feel it earlier on. We are closing in on spring break in a couple weeks now, and for the past few weeks I have already been noticing my own mental and physical exhaustion from all I have been doing consistently this semester.
I knew going into this semester that I would probably have too much going on to be comfortable, but sometimes that is unavoidable. When it comes to school and classes, you have to do what you have to do for your plan – whether that means taking classes less than desirable, maxing out your credit hours or sacrificing a few activities in your life to make a certain class an option.
Sometimes on top of a hectic class schedule, you have a job, an internship, a campus club to run or participate in – or all of the above. When that happens, life can get pretty crazy pretty fast, and it becomes increasingly difficult to find time for activities you enjoy – or even time enough for you to relax.
It is crucial, especially over time, to remember to take time off for yourself. Work, school, friends and family all matter and can be very important in your life, but so is your mental health and wellbeing. If you need time away from certain things or people, that is OK. Remember to communicate what you need and how you may be feeling.
Self-care is a fairly widespread term – common knowledge these days. Everyone’s version of self-care is slightly different though, depending on the individual and the circumstances. Some people have pre-conceived ideas of what self-care is and is not, but to me, self-care is whatever you need to help you relax and take care of yourself in a healthy, helpful manner.
Self-care can be listening to a favorite song on repeat. It can be pampering yourself and your body after a long day, going out for your favorite food, settling in for a movie night by yourself. Self-care can be occasionally saying “no” to party invites or outings with friends in favor of a little you time. Self-care can be as big or as little as you need it to be, in a particular moment in time. The important thing is remembering to center it around yourself – your needs and your schedule.
When things get crazy busy for me – which is most of the time, unfortunately – and I realize how exhausted I am by seeing so many little things that I have neglected pertaining to my health and preferred state of living, I do my best to plan time for me to get my life back in order, so to speak. If I can only manage to save myself one evening or a few hours during the day devoid of schoolwork per week, so be it – I will gladly take that time and use it to the best of my advantage.
Sometimes all that means is accomplishing the little things that nonetheless make me feel more sane and cared for by myself. Cleaning my room, putting on a facial, reading a chapter of a favorite book, painting my nails, walking in nature, you name it, but those are some of my favorite defaults. The next time you feel super stressed or like you have not done anything for yourself in a while, carve out an evening and do something simple and happy – whatever it may be.
Caring for yourself – particularly when you are going through something difficult or when you are thoroughly exhausted – is highly important, but so is continuing to show care and respect to others during such times. It can be all too easy to accidentally lash out at friends, family or loved ones over a very minimal issue, and that tendency to unintentionally lash out is only heightened by weariness.
If you are having trouble interacting with someone, whether in-person or online, take a deep breath and gently step back from the situation for a short time before you come to do something you may regret later. If they are truly a friend, they will understand your actions later and be supportive of your needs and feelings.
Something I feel that we all should try to do better to remember is that every one of us is likely going through something at any given moment. There are varying magnitudes of difficulties, of course, but we all have something we are working towards or dealing with. Taking care to be mindful of both other people’s well being and your own is a good way to be, and something I will always be striving for in my every day life.
We only have a couple more weeks to go before spring break is upon us. If you have begun to recognize your own fatigue over the course of this semester so far, I would urge you to use spring break as a complete reset. Evaluate how your daily life has been lately: pinpoint what you could change to improve it for the last half of the semester and try to eliminate the things causing you the most stress.
Your work, school and social responsibilities are important, but so are your responsibilities to yourself. Personal well being is a significant factor in a satisfactory life – so please, do not forget to care for yourself.