As a college student, I often reflect on the expectations I have for myself in order to perceive myself as a “good student”. Among these are being involved with organizations on campus, achieving and maintaining a 3.0 or higher GPA, working part-time, and having an internship. My expectations can be reflected on my current experiences on campus. I am involved with two organizations on campus, I have a part-time job, I am a full-time student, and on top of everything, I constantly struggle to have a social life and get a decent amount of sleep
I thought I was doing fine balancing everything in my life until midterms came around at the end of February. The week before midterms, I was already occupied with helping prepare for recruitment activities for one of my organizations, and I wanted to support the committee to ensure the events were organized and decorated properly. At the moment, I did not realize how poorly I managed my time, so I spent little time studying for upcoming exams. In addition, I was exhausted after a busy weekend, so all I wanted to do was rest and relax, but instead I continued to stress and worry about my midterms. I started to get extremely anxious at the thought of getting bad grades. The day before I had two exams, I spent most of the day frantically cramming as much information as possible, and this caused me to become even more stressed, anxious, and tired.
On the day of my first two midterms, I was still worried and frustrated about not getting good grades, but I kept pushing myself to try my best. After my second exam, I thought I could finally unwind and catch up on sleep, but I ended up worrying about two phone interviews I had the same week. By my second phone interview, I caught myself feeling very tired, unemotional, and unenthusiastic. I tried my hardest to sound happy over the phone, but I knew deep down all I wanted to do was hang up the phone and sleep. I kept thinking I should not act this way because I did not want to feel like a weak, helpless person, so I tried to ignore my negative emotions. I’ve crammed before, so why would this week be any different from the past?
The next week, I realized my problem when I began to feel lost, hopeless, and depressed. I felt no motivation to do anything, and I was confused as to why I felt this negativity. I remember asking myself, “what’s the purpose for what you’re currently doing in your life, and what’s really making you happy?” As I tried to reflect on my behavior, I noticed I was lacking something I did not consider significant: self-care. Looking back on the week of midterms, I recall the amount of stress, anxiety, and restlessness I faced, and I recall being so hard on myself and telling myself to not be a weak person. I did not set aside enough time to relax, because I was too overwhelmed with studying. Exhaustion, lack of sleep, and lack of self-care got the best of me.
After coming to terms with my harmful behavior, I began a slow recovery through self-care to get myself back on track with life. So with that, I wanted to leave this post with three important tips to keep in mind.
- Take things one step at a time.
It’s not always the best idea to try to do everything at once. If multitasking is not your greatest strength, don’t be so hard on yourself. Taking things one at a time will definitely help you exert your energy and efforts to one task instead of frantically trying to finish everything simultaneously.
- There’s nothing wrong with taking a break.
Don’t feel guilty for doing so. Try to set aside some time to do other things you are passionate about to take your mind off of studying. Better yet, treat yourself to something you like, and reward yourself for doing a good job. You deserve a break!
- Relax, you got this.
No really, you do. Something very simple that helped me while I was stressed was taking deep breaths in and out to help relieve some tension. Other ways I found to relieve my stress was eating chocolate, drinking boba (my fave), working out, talking to friends, practicing calligraphy, or just simply taking a break and shifting my attention to catch up on social media.