As schoolwork piles up, self-care is crucial

Constance Bougie

[media-credit id=157 align=”alignleft” width=”150″]constance[/media-credit]

Surrounded by project deadlines and class readings, it’s easy for students to forget that there’s a world outside Sage and Clow Halls. We get so caught up in a rhythm of working, sleeping, attending classes and taking breaks that there’s hardly a moment in which we aren’t doing something, if not three things.
But it’s important to take the time to take care of ourselves, whether that involves dragging ourselves to Blackhawk Commons instead of skipping dinner, going to sleep on time before an early morning class or setting down that ten pound textbook we’ve been paging through in order to do something relaxing instead.
Self-care isn’t selfish. In her article “Why Self Care Is Important,” Lifehacker columnist Kristin Wong summarizes: self-care prevents “overload burnout.” It reduces the negative effects of stress. It helps people refocus on the things they’re trying to accomplish.
“Self-care is not a reward. It’s part of the process,” Wong writes, adding that sometimes we get so used to “rewarding ourselves” with lunch or even a trip to the bathroom that we forget exactly what it means to take care of ourselves.
Our mind is the most powerful tool we have when it comes to the classroom, but it’s easy to forget this and focus solely on keeping ourselves healthy in the traditional, bodily manner we’ve all been taught to follow—an approach that mainly features eating regularly and healthily, getting enough sleep and exercising at least a few times a week.
It’s possible, though, to do all these things and still feel anxious when it comes to excessive amounts of homework that piles up when we put them off to the side.
Some people swear by meditation, others by lying in bed listening to loud music, but the point remains the same—it’s vital to take time each week to relax and let ourselves breathe. Just as our bodies need a break sometimes, so do our minds.
This need for a systematic mental break only becomes more essential as the semester goes on and assignments pile up like the autumn leaves littering the sidewalk. Helping a friend when they’re stressed over classes often comes much easier to us than helping ourselves, but it’s important to remember that we’re important, too.
“Yeah, I feel stressed; college is very difficult,” UW Oshkosh senior Ashley Boegh said. “It can be overwhelming in a lot of ways.”
“As a college student, I think it’s more challenging to find things that don’t stress me out,” junior Morgan Frost said. “My head would explode if I didn’t take a little time for myself sometimes.”
Frost said unwinding with music or a good television show always helps, adding that anything that could get her to laugh and forget about the real world for a while can be helpful during stressful times.
“I like the swing dance club,” Boegh said. “It’s relaxing and great to forget the worries of your day.”
Other students suggested going to UWO’s Student Recreation and Wellness Center, taking a walk down by the Fox River or unwinding at Reeve when school anxiety gets to be too much to handle.
It’s all too easy to forget ourselves and become caught up in schoolwork that begs to be finished, but when we don’t take the time to analyze our physical and mental needs, our performance in classes often suffers. More than that, our mental health and relationships often falter as well when we aren’t in peak mental shape.
“You’re never going to be consistently happy and you can’t prevent sadness or life from running its course,” blogger Sara Black McCulloch writes. “Self-care is a way to at least strengthen yourself, find some inner core so that you’re ready when life comes at you.”
It’s all well and good to have every last bit of homework finished, every episode of “Stranger Things” watched and every other duty accomplished in a single weekend, but sometimes it’s important to switch all that off and just relax in the quiet for a moment. We all have things we need to get done, but when we don’t take care of ourselves, those tasks only become more difficult to accomplish.
So take that break you’ve been needing. As commonplace as it is in our modern-day society to constantly be doing things, it’s pivotal to spend time doing nothing, too. It’s critical to care for our minds, to care for our bodies, and when necessary, to ask others to help us in doing so.
“Never be afraid to ask for help when overwhelmed,” Frost advised students. “Never be ashamed.”
After all, we all experience struggles, especially on a college campus packed and ready-made with the stresses of schoolwork and a busy schedule. Why not help each other, and help ourselves?