Open up your daily schedule and take a look. I guarantee you, it’s jam-packed.
You’ve got class, homework and that group project you are dreading. After academics, you have practice or exercise and multiple organization meetings. Your friends are all begging you to hang out. You can barely find time to eat, let alone shower, so you wear your ball cap for the third day in a row to cover up your dirty hair, and hope that maybe you will find some free time after graduation. You’re overwhelmed, you’re stressed out and you’re strapped for time. I get it. I’m right there with you. But let me ask you a question, Wittenberg: where in your schedule do you make time for yourself?
According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, stress and anxiety is most commonly reported among college students, and is a top concern for those between the ages of 18-34.
When we pack our schedules fuller than we can imagine, and try to keep up with the growing demands of our academic, extracurricular and social lives, we cannot help but become stressed and anxious.
Sometimes, however, we just need to slow down. We need to learn to say no. Instead of filling up every second of our day with activities that we deem to be productive, we need to make a concentrated effort to make time for ourselves. By that, I don’t mean binge drinking every weekend or watching Netflix every night. I mean real, fulfilling time spent to re-center, refocus, reflect and refresh.
As college students, we are conditioned to handle stress the wrong way. We think that by going out and blacking out, we will be able to forget the problems we face in every day life. In fact, we are just adding to the problems.
We are creating health concerns by depriving ourselves of sleep and brain cells, and creating financial concerns by spending money we don’t have at the bar, or our friendly neighborhood dealer’s house. In order to properly deal with our stress, we must strive towards mindfulness instead of mindlessness.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, one of the top ways to deal with stress is to simply take a time out. Step away from your to-do list, and do something just for you. Invest in yourself. Invest in your happiness, and walk away from your need to achieve for a few minutes each day. You can do this by literally walking away and taking a walk around Springfield, reading a book for fun or taking time to reflect.
When we take time to focus on ourselves, we are better prepared to focus on others. When we manage our time so that we are not in a constant state of overworked and overwhelmed, the work we have to give is quality work.
So next time you sit down to make your weekly schedule, don’t forget to schedule time for you. Block out time to release from the pressures of the college environment, and allow yourself to just be you.