As we get older, our grades start to become more important to us, and for good reason. We need good grades in high school to get into college; we need good grades in college to get into graduate schools, medical schools and law schools, and we need good grades to stand out on our resumes.

There is no doubt that good grades are essential to our success and it can feel like everything - our entire future - depends on our grades. However, I think grades have started to become a little too important to us, causing us to forget about other important things in our life, like our health.

It's little things that we sometimes don't even notice. I didn't even really notice until I took a step back and reflected on my year so far during fall break. For instance, we convince ourselves that we don't have time for things like taking a nap, going to the gym, or going to a social event because we have so much work to do. We neglect those things for school work, which in turn affects our physical, mental, and spiritual health, and not in a good way.

We stay up to the early hours of the morning to complete assignments, pushing sleep to the side, pumping our bodies full of caffeine from coffee, energy drinks, and God knows what else. Then we get up in 4 hours to go to a morning class, bags under our eyes. We eat food like chips and ramen and soda and candy while working that we know aren't beneficial to our bodies, but it's the only food around and doesn't take long to make.

We make ourselves so stressed out by cramming and studying that it just makes us want to cry and get away from the world for awhile, but we know we can't because there's still so much work we have to do. We don't find ways to relieve the stress that so easily builds on us from school.

I didn't realize how much I was neglecting my own health until I started to wonder why I was feeling so much like crap. I also didn't realize how important it was to take care of my health and realize how many of aspects of my life it affects. The only thing I was concerned about was keeping up my GPA. Fall break really changed my perspective once I got home and completely crashed. My body was just so exhausted by how much I had been neglecting it during school.

Yes, our grades are very important, and right now, they may seem like the most important thing in our life; like nothing else matters as much. However, hear it from me before you hear it from your own body: your health is worth more than your grades. Take care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually, and then take care of your schoolwork. Your grades will always just be a number, nothing more. They are replaceable, you are not. You come first.