Self-care is vital for every aspect of our mental well-being
By Samaria JohnsonBy Samaria Johnson | 10/12/2014 8:51pm
There’s a popular diagram that features a triangle that says, “Pick two out of three,” and the options are sleep, social life and school/work. There’s also a mug for sale on Etsy with the inspirational quote: “You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé.” These popular images portray the message that a full life is worth sacrificing everything; however, that’s not entirely true.
Part of the fun of being a college student is the abundance of choice in our pastimes. There comes a point, however, when the hobbies, school, work and clubs become too much. Even the best scheduled weeks with the most meticulous study plans can end up wearing people down. When there are too many activities with too few breaks, life will inevitably become too much to deal with.
There’s no shame in exhaustion. We aren’t powered by Duracell batteries, and there’s only so much a venti extra dirty chai can do for us. Sometimes we need a break – a weekend where we don’t leave the house or a school night when we take leave from the usual parade of meetings – in order to repair ourselves. Self-care is something college students peddle a lot, but are almost universally terrible at accomplishing. This makes sense because saying no to anything will fail pretty much any cost-benefit analysis we run, and letting ourselves breathe and think for even a few hours might end up breaking us in the long run.
People handle their mental health in different ways and have a breathtaking array of coping mechanisms, and it’s not my or anyone else’s place to pass judgment on how to deal with mental health, but I have been suicidal. I’ve slept for 18, 20 hours a day and been completely disengaged emotionally for months at a time. My fourth semester was spent at the Counseling Center undoing damage. I do know that for me, while a large part of mental illness is genetic and cannot be helped, a fair amount of it could’ve been if I had admitted that I was struggling and taken the time to take better care of myself.
I’m not Beyoncé (yet), no matter how much I wish I were. My days have as many hours as hers do, but my life looks completely different than hers. That’s ok, though. We all have diverse needs, tolerance levels and endurance limits. Allow yourself to take the time to learn what those are. It might actually save your life.
Samaria Johnson is a senior majoring in history. Her column runs biweekly on Mondays.