Most students are familiar with the basics of health and wellness: eat well, exercise, and get rest. However, college students are not well-known for prioritizing self-care, and when students become stressed and overwhelmed, self-care is often the first thing to go. When multiple assignments are piling up, it's easy to think you can't afford to take a break. In these pages, we hope to show you that you can't afford not to!
In the New York Times article, Relax, You'll Be More Productive, Tony Schwartz highlights research that "shows that strategic renewal - including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations - boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health." He suggests that the human body is not "designed to expend energy continuously. Rather, we're meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy" in 90 minute cycles. He recommends taking breaks at least every 90 minutes and engage in an activity to clear your mind and boost your energy. (Note: drinking a cup of coffee does not fit this criteria.) Several studies have demonstrated that this practice actually increases productivity, performance, and creativity. While it's impossible to add hours to the day, it is possible, by engaging in thoughtful self-care, "to get more done, in less time, more sustainably."
The linked pages above give multiple ideas for self-care and renewal. It is important to experiment and find practices that fit with your lifestyle and personality. If self-care feels like just another chore, you're not likely to stick with it. However, if you find that you really enjoy a particular sport or relaxation technique, or you start seeing the benefits of a good night's sleep, these can develop into long-term habits that keep you healthy and productive.
Adapted from the Amherst College Counseling Center Self Care website