Take Care: "Me" Time in College

Studying for midterms, collaborating on group projects, attending club meetings, working, and finding time for socializing are all aspects of daily lives that we college students have to fit in our already-full schedules. Personally, I am easily susceptible to becoming quite anxious when overthinking about what my day entails, especially if many unchecked tasks on my extensive “To-Do” list remain by mid-day. However, as I now reflect on the long and stressful days I’ve had so far in college, I’ve realized they’ve actually helped me learn how to take better care of myself in a multitude of ways.

About halfway through Winter Quarter, amidst the first round of midterms and papers due, I didn’t quite find a balance between my academics and extracurricular commitments as well as I would have liked to. I wasn’t making time to relax and take care of myself mentally or spiritually as often as I had before; I became too consumed with my thoughts of what lay ahead in my busy day rather than being attentive and productive in the present. After awhile, I realized I had to do something to ease my stress so that I could go about my day efficiently and contently. I had to convince myself that I wouldn’t be selfish or unproductive if I took a couple minutes out of my day to simply relax. I took a couple of progressive steps forward in learning to take care of myself, and two steps back at other times. But I realized that taking time away from daily demands every once in awhile didn’t hurt my productivity overall; it actually enhanced it so that I could be fully present for every task at hand.

I rely heavily on my ‘personal goal’ checklists and creative outlets to keep me content, so I decided that making a quick list of everything I wanted to do as part of my “downtime” in my week would be a great start to taking care of myself. From a physical standpoint, I started taking more personal walks around campus, found time to pray at the Mission Church, and even took naps throughout the day (which is something I never usually found time to do!). I also made a small amount of time for my favorite hobbies as a form of a mentally creative outlet, such as sewing clothes for friends with my sewing machine I brought from home, finding spiritual quotes to serve as inspirational reminders on my dorm walls, and catching up with my high school friends through hand-written letters.

Finding time to do what you love, whether a small or grand action, or dedicating time for relaxation can help relieve the stress that comes with the crazy demands of college life. Ultimately, I had to change my mentality on the way I valued my time in order to take better care of myself. I’m still trying to achieve my perfect balance of tending to commitments I’ve made while simultaneously scheduling in personal leisure time, but it’s not a balance that I believe should be discovered quickly. Recently, I always try to remind myself that taking care of myself today helps alleviate the stress of tomorrow. I value the overwhelming moments I’ve had throughout my college experience thus far because, in retrospect, these moments have taught me that I am able to overcome the stressful days and can continue to work towards finding a balance that works for me. Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do for yourself in college. Whether mentally, physically, or spiritually, it simply allows you time for personal growth, discovery, and reflection so you can focus on becoming the most content and best “you” possible.