As fall break is quickly approaching, I find myself overjoyed at the prospect of having no responsibilities.
But I’m also excited for fall break for another reason: self-care.
The idea of self-care is to take time out of the many things on your to-do list to intentionally take care of your mental, emotional and physical health.
A 2014 Penn State University study found that anxiety was the leading mental health issue that college students faced, passing depression. According to the 2015 National College Health Assessment survey by the American College Health Association, almost one in six college students was diagnosed with or treated for anxiety.
College students are constantly facing deadlines for papers and other assignments, and that unfortunately takes priority over self-care. The never ending due dates and exams to study for keep piling up while students just try to stay afloat. They don’t always have time to read for fun, to go to the gym and exercise or just watch their favorite TV show to unwind.
That constant busyness with no real time for a break begins to take a toll.
Students get less sleep, they eat less, they drink more espresso than is probably healthy and exhaustion sets in because they don’t have the time to properly take care of themselves. Sometimes, those develop into more serious issues.
Too often, self-care stops being a priority.
I know I’m guilty of that. During this week of midterms alone, I have forgotten to eat lunch twice simply because I have too many other things happening during the lunch hour. Those same days, I didn’t remember to eat supper until 8:30 p.m., and I almost didn’t eat at all because I had too much to do.
Maybe for you it’s not meal skipping. Instead it might be not taking enough brain breaks or you study into the early hours of the morning when you have to get up for an 8:00 a.m. class.
You’re probably exhausted as you head into fall break, and all you can think about is finally sleeping more than five hours a night. At least I know I am.
But I would encourage you to use fall break for more than just catching up on sleep.
Use fall break to do the life-giving things you don’t have time during the semester to do. Take the time to read a book for fun, instead of those required readings from a dense textbook. Go outside and go for a walk, or just breathe in the fresh air because you aren’t stuck at a desk writing a paper. Binge watch your favorite TV show.
Just don’t think about school. Or least, spend the majority of your week thinking and doing things that are unrelated to school.
Take care of yourself. And if possible, we should all find better ways to practice self-care during the school year. But for now, utilize fall break.
We all should take advantage of this time we have off because when we get back, it’s another intense eight weeks until Christmas break.