RAYMOND-GARCIA: Don’t forget to take care of yourself during stressful times
Opinions Column: A Ray of Esperanza
It’s everyone’s close-second favorite time of the semester— mid-terms season. Maybe you have made it out with a partial semblance of sanity. Maybe you are still in the trenches, and to you, I send lots of solidarity. If you are anything like me, you have probably arrived at this point with puffy eyes, a few extra pounds, and an increasing sense of self-doubt. It now requires an extra amount of energy and willpower to get mundane things done, like getting to those dirty dishes you are sure your roommates hate you for, or actually putting an outfit together for once. It also means you have probably given up on your hobbies or methods of expression, choosing and/or scheduling time to prepare healthy meals or even exercise regularly. Point being, this is not a time where college students have their lives together.
I hear so many of my friends berate themselves for getting into this rut of time management yet again and that they were banking on doing better this time around. I am not going to lie, I thought this time was going to be it, too. So many of us have the natural inclination of giving up now and telling ourselves that we will do better next semester, knowing very well that we still have half of the semester left. Instead of waiting for the next semester of collegiate torture to commence, we should be taking advantage of the time we know we could be putting to use and preparing ourselves for our actual favorite time of the year— finals.
I am not coming from some pedestal of moral good trying to tell you these things, either. This piece means as much to you as it does to me because, while I know these varying methods of self-care are vital to my ability to handle everything that life is throwing at me, I am not doing a good job at putting them into practice. I'm working at a part-time job, taking on an insane number of credits that I knew was probably a bad idea to begin with but went through with anyway, involving myself on campus and maintaining a more-than-average responsibility to my family. Most, if not all, of my friends have some variation of the life I just described in and outside of academia. To be honest, I do not know anyone who is not working a job, involved in extra-curricular activities and taking on a full-time course load while trying to keep their physical and mental health well enough for them to function properly.
Especially now that the unnecessary daylight saving time has ended and we are more prone to feeling less than our best because of the cold and lack of sunlight, it is more important that we take care of our well-being in its entirety. With the added effect of being in classrooms all day and having very little motivation to step outdoors, being in college is that much harder. College does this thing where it makes you want to rip your brain out of your skull and force it to learn everything you need to know by rubbing it on your textbook. There is no doubt that higher education works you to your breaking point, as proven by study after study. The rise in student-related stress has steadily increased over time and we are the most stressed college students in history. I don’t know about you, but that terrifies me. The way that higher education is structured is not conducive for students to put their health and well-being first, which is an entire conversation in and of itself.
Even though the odds are stacked against us, there are things we can do to take care of ourselves. One of the best methods I have seen work in my and my friends lives’ is that of accountability. The hardest part is always reaching out, but if you can get past this huge hurdle, having a friend who keeps you in check with your goals of taking care of yourself is always helpful. Finding 10 minutes a day to put our phones away and sing, doodle, read articles on an interesting topic, watch videos only found in the depths of the internet or whatever it is you like to do will make bigger self-care goals seem that much easier to reach. Easier said than done, I know, but we all need to start somewhere! If you see a friend in the next couple of weeks, ask them how they have been and what you can do to help. If we just start taking care of each other, we can collectively make the difficulty of the college experience a little easier to manage.
Vanessa Raymond-Garcia is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in women’s and gender studies with a minor in public policy and a dual candidate for a master’s in public policy. Her column, "A Ray of Esperanza," runs on alternate Mondays.
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