Students must carve out time for self-care

Janhavi Nemawarkar

We’re entering the most stressful part of the semester: every week is midterm week, registration is starting up and we’re finally approaching the culmination of this historic and absolutely terrifying election season. 

Millennials have it so easy.

But despite whatever hellish combination of classes, jobs, internships and extracurricular activities you find yourself occupied with this semester, it’s important that we don’t forget the importance of self-care. 

With the dozens of activities that occupy our time as students, and the insidious belief that each one is indispensable for our future, it’s easy to get locked into a mindset in which we begin to believe our worth is defined by how well we’re doing. We begin to devalue our own health in an attempt to become the most successful, the most giving versions of ourselves. But self-care isn’t an indulgence — rather, it is an essential aspect of maintaining our physical and mental health. And only by sustaining our health can we be the supportive friends and dedicated citizens we want to be.

Self-care encompasses the actions we might overlook on a daily basis in our dogged pursuit of our goals — it is the steps we take to maintain and strengthen our emotional and physical well-being. That means going for a morning run, giving yourself a little time just to read or trying out breathing exercises to help alleviate the inevitable stress, disappointment and sadness that comes with being a person in the world just trying to live.

It is more integral to our health than simply enabling us to be the most productive version of ourselves. While a much talked about incentive of maintaining our mental health is its ability to bolster workplace performance or prevent burnout, our emotional well-being should be more valuable than that. Taking care of our well-being shouldn’t have to feel antithetical to our pursuit of success. We can be whole without producing all the time.

Practicing self-care does not mean enabling bad habits that only feel good in the moment — watching Netflix when you should really be starting on a paper due the next day will always be a bad idea. It doesn’t mean celebrating the financially irresponsible material excesses of a “treat yourself” mentality or taking a break from doing work to peruse social media. Rather, self-care means checking in on yourself: assessing your stress levels, reflecting on the health of your relationships and making sure you’ve eaten.

Setting simple goals is important; eating regular meals, exercising and maintaining a healthy sleep schedule are all basic needs that can be overlooked in times of stress. Other suggested methods to maintain mental well-being include practicing meditation or keeping a journal. Go outside, maybe. Look at a tree. But above all, give yourself time to breathe.

We’re going to make it through this semester — we’re almost there. We just need to make sure we’re being kind to ourselves.

Nemawarkar is a Plan II sophomore from Ausin. She is a senior columnist. Follow her on Twitter @janhavin97