What do you have to do this week?
Make the list in your head, or chances are you already have a list somewhere: in a planner, on a post-it note, in your phone. Exam on Monday. Analysis paper due on Tuesday. Discussion board post due by Wednesday. Work for at least 16 hours at your internship. Work 10 hours at your on-campus job. Meet with your adviser to plan for next semester. Eat at least one full meal — but if the lines at The Commons are too long, you might just opt for a bag of trail mix instead. Go grocery shopping. Find an open afternoon to do a month’s worth of laundry. Go to a staff meeting. Volunteer to sit at your club’s sign-up table in The Commons. Go to lab for three hours. Start that research paper that’s due in a week. Sleep... maybe?
Now, double check that list: Where’s the activity that’s just for you — something just for enjoyment or relaxation?
“Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
And it’s true. We are busy people. We jam-pack our schedules full of really important activities. But amidst all the activities we cram into any given week, we rarely include activities that allow us to unwind. And taking time for ourselves is just as, if not more, important than getting extra credit for Bib Trad or spending that extra hour studying.
Self-care practices are the daily activities we can do for ourselves to maintain healthy minds, bodies and spirits. Self-care can be as simple as enjoying a cup of tea while watching an episode of “House of Cards,” or it can be as luxurious as treating yourself to a mani-pedi.
Self-care also includes practical activities like going to Health Center at the first signs of an illness, getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day or eating at least one healthy meal a day.
Self-care is also attending to your mental, emotional and spiritual needs. You can meet with your adviser to see if you’re on track for graduation. You can meet with staff at the Career Center to help you prepare your resume and practice interviewing skills. You can open up to a counselor at the Health Center or the staff in Campus Ministry. You can talk to a Holy Cross priest. You can reach out to someone you look up to. You can talk to your friends and family.
Self-care is difficult to do sometimes because our schedules are so full. But self-care can also be difficult because it requires us to acknowledge that we need to be taken care of — and that we’re worth taking care of.
We’re taught from an early age to work hard, to put others before ourselves, to be humble. So, turning around and saying, “I need time for myself” can sometimes feel contrary to all that. Saying you need a break might feel like admitting weakness. Saying you need time for yourself might feel selfish. Saying you deserve time just for yourself might feel conceited.
But it’s none of those things.
Prioritizing yourself ahead of other tasks and people is OK to do once in awhile. In fact, it’s absolutely necessary. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t complete other tasks or take care of other people. If your mind is not in a good place, you can’t focus on your homework. If you’re physically ill or unhealthy, you can’t work hard or perform physically-demanding jobs. If your heart is broken, it’s almost impossible to listen to your boss during a staff meeting. If you’re overwhelmed by stress, it’s hard to attend to your friend’s problems.
Not attending to your own needs, while it might work in short-term situations, can really harm your work, your grades and your relationships in the long run.
So, we just wanted to remind you: You are worth taking care of. You are more important than that mid-term exam. You are more important than picking up the extra shift at work. You are more important than an invitation to a big house party. You are important — in and of yourself.
So be good to yourself. Take care of yourself.