Long nights with no sleep amidst Red Bulls and Cheeto Puffs can only get you so far before you hit your breaking point. Stress and exhaustion can overwhelm you to the point of hardly even realizing how broken you are. Left with nothing more than fatigue and orange fingers, it’s time to close the computer, put down your to-do list, drink a glass of water instead of that fourth cup of coffee and breathe.
It’s time to make yourself the most important priority.
As a recovering overachiever who constantly relapses and joins five student organizations at once, I can advocate for the importance of self-care on a spiritual level.
College is a great time to get involved, but it should not come at the expense of your own well-being. The importance of taking time for yourself is deeply rooted in your own personal success.
Self-care is a positive step toward acceptance and authenticity. Respecting and honoring your limitations will lead to healthier relationships, stronger feelings of self-worth, and frankly, more restful sleep, something I think we could all benefit from.
Practicing self-care means doing whatever you have to do to center yourself.
The best self-care plan involves the three w’s: who, what and where. Figure out who makes you feel supported, what activities make you feel alive and where you can go to feel safe and comfortable.
For some, this might look like a comfy couch in the Lory Student Center, surrounded by supportive friends. To others, this might look more like a night at Fort Fun totally owning a group of 13-year-olds in laser tag. Either way, do what makes you feel good. Sometimes it just feels good to stand victoriously at the top of a slide, screaming the battle cry of your ancestors while a birthday party anxiously awaits their turn down. To each their own.
Self-care is embedded in our environment and who we surround ourselves with. Reflect on your relationships and actively choose which ones to nurture. You can achieve this by creating a support system of people who lift you up when you are sinking and then putting extra effort into those connections.
Reevaluating relationships and removing toxic people from your life can be difficult, but that doesn’t make it any less necessary. Ultimately, you know when something doesn’t feel right – it’s that gut feeling somewhere between feeling queasy and unsure about how to proceed, like after you binge on Cafe Mexicali. Focus on the relationships that help you grow in a positive way.
In college, we are thrown into a space with people completely different than us. Not everyone is going to want to reenact the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants with you, and that is totally fine. It is completely under your control who is in your life and who isn’t.
If you feel like you don’t have time to do the things that make you smile, re-prioritize your objectives. Schoolwork and jobs are important, but this is a vital time of experimentation and self-exploration. So listen to a guilty pleasure song (my personal favorite is “The Humpty Dance” by Digital Underground) or grab lunch with someone you haven’t seen in a while.
Self-care can be as simple as taking a 10-minute break in between classes to people watch, or a full Lord of The Rings marathon (set aside at least two days and schedule bathroom breaks accordingly).
So whether you need to take a well-deserved nap or listen to Kidz Bop Block Party, which is on channel 78 on Sirius XM radio by the way, take time to nourish your body and treat yourself.
Collegian Columnist Kendall McElhaney’s social security number can be found on her LinkedIn account. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @kendallaftrdark.