To those who overwork themselves, to those who prioritize work, academics, or extracurricular commitments over food and sleep, to those who are willing to sacrifice their health and happiness in order to do an exceptional job, I first want to say that I recognize you. I recognize and appreciate all of your hard work and contributions. I greatly admire your strength and dedication. But I’m here to interfere. I’m telling you to choose yourself over your commitments every once in a while.
Now, I don’t advocate for completely abandoning all of your obligations and never working a day in your life again. Your hard work fuels our functioning society, and I will forever thank and commend you for that. But think about it. What fuels your hard work? What allows you to be a contributing member of society? Your mental and physical health does. Every day, you show up to work and/or school because your body and mind allow you to do so. This doesn’t mean that your body and mind are in tip-top condition, but they allow you to show up and carry out your responsibilities. So what would happen if your body and mind were in tip-top condition?
Multiple research studies have shown that sleeping improves performance in a multitude of areas. In a study performed by Cheri D. Mah at Stanford University, sleep extension in Stanford basketball players appeared to perform better during athletic practice sessions. After increasing the amount of time they spent sleeping, the athletes exhibited improvement in shooting accuracy and overall strength on the court. Other studies showed enhanced performances in other areas besides athletics. A study performed by Sara C. Mednick at the University of California, Riverside showed that longer naps (60-90 minutes) greatly improved subjects’ performance on memory tests. Many more studies have been done on the positive effects of sleep and those are only a Google search away. Clearly, sleeping does wonders for job performance and productivity despite being considered an activity for the lazy. So don’t ever let anyone shame you for taking a nap again. As of now, we’ve covered sleeping, but what about eating? Eating nutritious meals is integral to functioning well in academic and work environments. According to the Harvard Business Review, what you eat (or don’t eat) directly affects your productivity and ability to process information at work. Not eating at all deprives our bodies of glucose, which is what the brain uses as energy in order to function. So trust me, skipping that meal is doing you more harm than good when it comes to the classroom and the workplace.
Ultimately, just be reasonable with yourself. I’m sure you’re proud of all your accomplishments, but backtrack to what allows your accomplishments to exist. Your good health allows you to do all the wonderful things that you do every day. So don’t neglect your mind and body. Thank your mind and body for giving you the ability to work hard and contribute to society every single day. Treat your mind and body appropriately as a gesture of gratitude.
This issue, however, is beyond bombarding you with scientific studies and facts and appealing to your logic. You shouldn't just take care of yourself because you know that it will increase your productivity when it comes to school and the workplace. You should take care of yourself because you deserve to be taken care of. You deserve that extra hour of sleep, and you deserve to have a good meal. Few things in this world are worth completely sacrificing your physical and mental health for. In addition, self-care does not involve just eating and sleeping. Self-care is spending time with your loved ones, watching your favorite TV show, and reading a book. Self-care is taking a walk through the park, cuddling your pets, and treating yourself to a spa day. Self-care is making time for the things you love (as well as performing basic human activities like eating and sleeping in order to function). It is not something to be neglected even in this crazy, fast-paced society. So to all of the overachievers, I see how hard you work. And I appreciate how hard you work. Now go take a break.