I think it goes without saying that this unprecedented semester has led to some unprecedented stress for college students. Many of us are living on campus and rarely get to go anywhere, see anyone, or do anything. I mean, the fact that a Target opened on my campus this week seems to be so exciting. There has been a line out the door regularly — people crave any excitement they can get!
The stress became too much for me to handle a couple of weeks ago. I had a hard time getting through the days and even getting the bare minimum amount of work done. There was not a real solution to my problem either — I simply needed a break. So that's what I did. This past week I — originally unintentionally, but later purposefully — took a break.
I went out to dinner and went to a movie night. I gave myself a spa night. I went out with friends. I cooked one of my favorite meals. If it could be safely done by a college student during COVID-19, I did it. During this time, I kept up with my schoolwork and deadlines that I had, but my main focus was taking care of me.
As I thought it would, this week healed me.
I learned how to be a little spontaneous and I broke my tunnel vision on the semester, constantly shifting from one deadline to another without relenting. I had a blast and made some of the most fun memories of my college experience. I was also able to finally relax and remember what it felt like to be human again — I was operating as if I was an academic robot previously.
However, throughout the whole week, I felt bad about what I was doing.
I knew there were deadlines that are further out on my schedule that I should have been working toward. I felt guilty that I wasn't pouring my heart and soul into my schoolwork because I'm in my final semester push, and I know that just one falter could destroy what I have worked so hard for over these last three and a half years. It's truly an issue that in the midst of all that is going on in our nation right now, that so much is expected from students — it's difficult to take time to breathe. To me, it feels like I have too much schoolwork — more than I would have in the same number of classes during an ordinary semester — and that doesn't sit well with me. It seems like professors always ask how we are doing but then just disregard the answers because they feel like they have to overcompensate for the fact that we aren't meeting in person right now.
I wish things were different, but either way, I spent my week of relaxation stressing out, ironically.
Now, I am working to make up for the time I "lost" on my schoolwork. There is one assignment that I have due in a few days that is making me regret taking so much time off from my schoolwork. However, I don't know that I would truly consider the time I took for myself to be "lost" time. I feel better about myself and more relaxed about my life, which is not the result I necessarily thought I would have going into the week. I now know it's best for me to incorporate some "me time" and self-care into my routine at least every couple of days to keep myself feeling my best! I strongly recommend giving a similar experiment a try to any and all college students that just need a break.