College is a never-ending roller-coaster. One day, you can be living it up at a house party. The next day, you are sobbing at 12 am in the study room. It is full of ups, downs, lefts, and rights. One of the sweetest pleasures about college is that there is always an end. There is an end to the semester, an end to the school year, but there is never an end to your mental health. The first couple of weeks of summer break will be a hot mess at times.
After a full first year of exams, student organizations, community service, and partying, I felt the need to get my life in order. From to-do lists to over 20 job applications, I was determined to return to my regular schedule back home. Each day, I boarded the Metra train in hopes of finding work. The city is always moving, and I wanted to move with it. Going downtown, made me feel like I was working, like I was important. I thought that I was doing everything right. In reality, I had it all wrong. Breakdowns began to visit me, especially at night. My mother would greet me and ask how I was doing. Tears would just rush down my face, and I would say, “Everything.”
Have you ever pumped a dry well? I have. I expected my bucket to overflow with opportunities after long hours of job searching and endless busy work. What in the world was I trying to fulfil? An idea of what it meant to have a successful summer as a college student. I later discovered that I was not alone in this. Everyone, even those of us who are not in school, constantly push ourselves to meet academic, social, and professional expectations of others and ourselves.
During our journeys to success, we fail to realize the importance of self-care. Here are a few tips on how to take care of yourself while you are taking care of business:
1. Check in with yourself
Before you start your day, check in with your body. What is your mind saying? What is your heart feeling? Make sure that you honor your body’s response. If you are not feeling your best, emotionally or physically, stay in bed! It is okay. Journaling is a great way to check in. Write it out. If that does not work, talk it out. Some of us need a visual representation, and some of us need audio. Do what works best for you.
2. Don’t dehumanize yourself
My sister-in-law consistently reminds me, “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” It sounds super simple, but we are truly our own enemies. Every day, we strategize new war tactics for our internal battles. Overworking yourself will only make things more difficult. Give what you can. You were not created to be a machine. You are here to breathe, love, rest, smile, cry, laugh, and be whatever makes you human!
3. Treat yourself
Funny story. I had the worst interview of my life with a popular department store. Surprisingly, I did not have a huge meltdown in the heart of Downtown Chicago. Instead, I sashayed to the nearest Chick-fil-A. I ordered myself a spicy chicken sandwich along with all of my favorite sauces, and I sat in silence sipping on some watermelon lemonade. My situation still sucked, but I had a good meal. Treating yourself does not always happen after a bad day. You deserve me time everyday; Binge-watch on Netflix, read a book, shop, take a walk, dance, make some art, or sit in silence. You know what you need, so give it to yourself.