As a college student with classes and commitments, I often forget the importance of resting and taking a break. Sometimes I am so busy and stressed that it is difficult for me to get a full night’s sleep or even find time to eat a meal. This is unfortunately pretty common among students. Sometimes we get so little sleep and have an immeasurable amount of stress. This is a result of a hustle and grind culture that makes us feel guilty for doing anything that is not “productive.” Life goes by so rapidly, and sometimes it is hard to keep up.
When I was in high school, I had so much energy. I woke up at 5:30am, got ready for class, left at 6:20am to drive to school, had choir at 7am before classes started, had a full day of classes from 8am-3pm, and then had choir after school until 4pm. When I got to college, things were different. 9:30am’s started to feel like 8am’s, and I did not have as much energy to do all my schoolwork and extracurriculars. I am not old by any means, but I am burnt out and struggle with getting things done sometimes.
When I have class, an event, or a meeting, I think about how I could be doing readings, writing a paper, or replying to emails. When I spend time with friends, scroll on my phone, or go to campus events for a study break, I feel guilty for not being able to “power through” and focus. I regularly worry about if I am managing my time correctly and if everything will be completed on time. And when I do work on something, I overthink about whether it is good enough. I try to reach a perfection that does not exist or does not even need to exist.
It is in these moments I have to remind myself to take a break. I do not have another choice. How busy and exhausted I am has affected my sleep, the relationships I have with family and friends, and how I view myself. But I learned that if I am so stressed and reread the same 3 sentences over and over again for too long of a time period anyways, I might as well relax and do something else.
Rest looks different for different people. For me, resting looks like getting a good night’s rest and going to bed, especially at night or when I am tired. If I am wide awake and unsettled, resting looks more like listening to a meditation on the Calm app or the sound of rain. If I am feeling extroverted, resting looks like spending time with family and friends.
While I want to take advantage of all that senior year has to offer and finish my undergraduate career strong, I also have to be realistic about how much I can handle and get done. I encourage you to do the same. I encourage you to think about and practice what resting means for you and when you need it most. In addition, give yourself permission to have fun, sleep, rest, and do things that are not academic related. If one of your favorite artists is performing in a nearby city on a Tuesday, get tickets and go see them. If it is spring break, plan a trip or get away with family or friends. If a club you are a part of is hosting an event, attend and have fun. If you do not want to do anything, then do nothing for a while. It is okay!
We are not machines. To achieve our goals and complete all that needs to be done, we have to pursue them in a more sustainable way. So stop hustling and grinding. Do what you can and take a few breaks along the way.