It's Okay To Take A Break

It's Okay To Take A Break

Why the pressure to always be "on" can be damaging to your mental and physical health.

American society tells us that the absence of activity is always laziness, apathy, entitlement and idleness. We are told from the moment we open our eyes that if we take a breath, we’re throwing our lives away with our couch potato ways.

We’re told that we need to always be on our feet, always be moving on to the next opportunity if we want to succeed. This mindset drives us to push ourselves past our limits and exhaust ourselves to the point of mental illness, all in the name of “success.”

I experienced firsthand what this cycle of pressure can do to a person this past semester. I took 20 credit hours and two jobs, all while trying to maintain a couple of clubs I’d started up, as well as my relationships.

I took on odd jobs, like babysitting and dogsitting, and I tried my hardest to plan my summer and my last year of university almost to the day. It was exhausting, I was miserable, and as you can imagine, a lot of things did not go well.

Over the three-month semester, I had a lot of really low lows and a handful of nervous breakdowns.

I started going to counseling again because I at least had the clarity of mind to recognize that I was not being healthy. My counselor told me to take a break and rest my body and my mind. With only a few weeks left in the semester, I told her and myself that I could survive through finals and into summer break.

But a relaxing summer wasn’t part of my plan. I was going to Portland, Oregon to live with family; I had a part-time job that I was going to work remote for about 10 hours a week; I was taking 16 credit hours; I’d applied for a slew of internships that would demand anywhere from 10 to 20 hours a week. Somehow, I’d convinced myself that this was going to work and that I was going to be happy.

In the last two weeks of the semester, I experienced a couple crises that really did me in. I realized that even though I’d made it through the semester with all of my commitments, I’d emerged at the end so fragile that I couldn’t hold up against some pretty mild storms.

So I decided that enough was enough: I was going to take a real break and allow myself to experience true rest. I dropped the internship search and decided to keep my summer responsibilities to a minimum.

What this experience taught me is that overexertion and burnout is real, as much as you might convince yourself that you’re stronger than that. You can take on too many classes or jobs or activities, and you can be stretched so thin that you snap.

The pressure to fit in—especially in university settings—and the pressure to succeed and do the most can be so harmful because it can not only push you beyond what you’re capable of, but it can also blind you to the fact that you might be passed your breaking point.

It is OK to take a break. It is OK to breathe a little. It is OK to take some time to yourself and do something you enjoy, even it’s something as simple as reading a book, watching an episode of your favorite TV show, taking a walk or going for a run, getting coffee with a friend, attending a yoga class, or even meditating for just 15 minutes between class or on your lunch break.

You won’t miss much in just a few moments of peace, and even though working and learning is important, it is not as important as your mental or physical health.

Cover Image Credit: Dorsett

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5 Essential Things To Do This Winter Break

Use winter retreat to do what you want to do.

A month may seem like a long break but somehow it always feels like it flies by. Before you know it you are packing your car to go back for the Spring semester. In one month many college students try to work, relax, catch up with friends and spend some time with their families.

But how can you ensure yourself that you'll do it all? Creating a bucket list and prioritizing what you see as important is a good way to make sure you do almost or everything that you want to over break.

1. Sleep, Sleep, Sleep

Whether that's actually resting and sleeping or just being lazy and relaxing, it's important to allow yourself so well deserved me time.

2. Finding time for new and old friends.

Catching up with old friends and trying to hang out with new ones from school can be challenging over break. It's important that you remind yourself, it's not about how long you hang out with a friend but the quality of that hangout. Going to get coffee, grabbing lunch or even seeing a movie are all great ways to catch up with friends without having to dedicate a whole day to them. Although it may seem cold to not want to dedicate a whole day to them, it's important when you have limited time to make every hour count.

3. What do you want to do?

It's important that we ask ourselves this question at the beginning of break. For many college students, home is not that close to college and there are specific things only your hometown has. Making lists is a great way to get all of your ideas out on a piece of paper. Whenever you have no plans during break, refer to this list and see if there is anything you could go do off of it that day.

4. Take time for your family

It's important to remember that your family probably missed you while you were away, whether they admit that or not. So while you make your list of things you want to do, include them in it. Maybe ask your siblings if there is one specific thing they would love to do over there break together, or if your mom had any ideas for family activities.

5. Enjoy your break

Dont stress about what you should or shouldn't be doing over break. Instead focus on what you have done and are doing. Having a more positive attitude will actually result in a more relaxing and happy break. Its important to remember the reason for winter break; it allows for tired college students to rejuvenate and prepare for their Spring courses.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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If You Think You’re Lonely Now

I know y'all are like “What? This girl is trippin',” but hear me out.

We have all felt lonely before and in different circumstances. Lonely in love, lonely in friendships, lonely in family, etc. I’m not a psychologist. I don’t have a cure for loneliness. But a good coping mechanism is to literally be alone.

And I know y'all are like “What? This girl is trippin',” but hear me out.

1. Reflect

Your loneliness may be telling you it’s time to reflect and re-evaluate some of these relationships you have. Maybe it’s time for you to bring up an issue in the hopes of it being solved or maybe it’s time to have some separation from them as well. Sometimes people don’t realize how much certain aspects of our lives affect us until we take a good microscopic look at them.

2. Have me time

Another reason you are feeling lonely is because you haven’t been some time with yourself in a while. Did you forget who you were in the midst of everyone else? Carve out some time to recharge! You can people watch, read, take a bubble bath, and curl up in a blanket with ice cream and your favorite tv show. The world is your oyster.

3. Focus on your mental health

This one can be a little scary to handle. Suffering from mental health issues can have you feeling a ton of emotions you don’t understand. Loneliness can be one of them. If you have been feeling lonely for a while it could be time to consult a mental health professional.

As someone who has felt plenty of times in life, I have realized that my life was lacking quality. Something was missing or felt out of place. These steps helped me re-center, get my life back on track, and feel more fulfilled than ever.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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