As we move into the Fall, it’s definitely that time of year when things get hectic. Whether you’re a student, a parent whose kids are in school, or work with students in any capacity, you know exactly what I’m referring to.
For the past week, I’ve been extremely overwhelmed. I work at a university, so interviewing and preparing our student leaders for the semester has been a lot by itself. In addition, I’m going to be teaching a class for the first time which is separate from my normal work duties. This is also my last semester of grad school (graduating in December with my Masters of Social Work!) and I’m taking 3 education classes as electives which is a change from what I’m accustomed to. I’m the Detroit Division president of a mentoring program for teenage girls, so I’ve been trying to get that up and going for the school year. On top of all of those commitments, I’m also in the choir at my church and we rehearse/sing every Sunday now. And finally, I also decided now is a great time to start swim classes.
I am no stranger to being busy.
I don’t know what all you may have on your plate, but this past week has reminded me of the importance of self care. Sometimes you need to just stop and breathe. I found myself so stressed that I experienced physical pain and exhaustion for days. I was running on pure adrenaline for a while and I finally crashed at work early yesterday. Today is the first day in what feels like forever that I feel alive again. As I reflect back, I probably should have taken some time for myself sooner and more often. There was a pressure I felt to get everything done. There were a few days at work when I didn’t even take a lunch break. And even when I was at home with a bit free-time, I still had everything weighing on my mind. But regardless of how much we may have going on, taking a few minutes for ourselves will always be worth it and better than never taking a moment to stop, and burning ourselves out.
I’m hear to remind you (and myself) that self-care is absolutely necessary for our mental health. It can help to combat the stress, anxiety, and even feelings of depression that we may experience. I value my “me-time” so much that I don’t even know how I let it slip through my finger tips. Nonetheless, the semester has barely begun and we should keep this in mind as we go through our day to day routines. We all have different ways that we like to spend our free time, but for all of us, the fact remains the same: it is a necessity to make time for yourself.
Here are a few crucial tips for taking care of yourself this fall:
- Make Time for “Me-Time”
Having time for yourself is so important to your well-being that you should make it a priority. You should treat your “me-time” like it’s mandatory. Some of you may like to schedule in your “me-time”, but even if you don’t, please don’t forget to find time for it often. You don’t have to carve out many hours everyday, but even if you just treat yourself to a quiet dinner every now and then or maybe cut your phone off for a bit of time, it could be helpful. I like to soak my feet, blog, play candy crush for an hour, meditate, sing in the dark, and so much more. Even more than all of that, my quiet time with God is absolutely essential for maintaining the peace I have in my life. If I go too long without talking to Him or just quieting my world down in general, I start to feel it mentally. I know immediately that that’s what’s missing. I don’t care how much I have going on in my life, my quite time and my “me-time” will ALWAYS be more important. I can’t function as efficiently without it.
- Small steps make big differences
Sometimes we really don’t have time/energy to sit and journal, read, binge watch Netflix, play sports, go fishing, go for a hike or work out. That’s just the reality of the situation. There are still smaller things we can do to make time for ourselves. Again, my relationship with God is super important, but even when I’m having one of those extra busy days, I still might read a few scriptures on my Bible app, I still talk to God briefly throughout my day, I take a short 30 minute lunch break and go for a walk or go to my spot and pray, and I listen to praise and worship music every morning on my commute to work. These are just a few small ways that I fit my quiet time in even when I’m constantly on the go. It brings me down from whatever negative head space I might be in. Even if it’s just 5 minutes of deep breathing when you first get to work/school, or getting up a little earlier so you can sit and enjoy a quiet cup of tea before the day starts. Having that time to yourself without all of the “noise” is a necessity for all of us and should be valued as such.
- Reassess your priorities
We’ve already established that I have quite a heavy load this semester, but this won’t be the first time. I know I can handle it all, and the thing that helps me the most is feeling like all of it is purposeful. I’ve grown to a place in my life where I don’t commit to just any and everything. I’ve learned how to say “no”. Sometimes I want to stay home and do nothing. Sometimes I know I need to stay home and do my homework or quiet my world down. Sometimes I consider getting involved with new things, but have to stop and ask myself why I actually want to do it. What is the greater purpose behind it? I’m selective about how I use my time because time is one thing we can never get back. So what or who are you giving your time to, and is it worth the sacrifice? Also, maybe think about how much time you’re committing to certain things. Are there areas in your life that you could maybe step back or press pause? If your mental health is being affected by the amount of obligations you have, maybe have an honest conversation with yourself about what can go for now. Your well-being is soooo important. I know there are some things that just aren’t possible to let go of right now, but no matter what you have going on, the very least you could do is find a little bit of time for yourself.
I’m wishing you all the very best this season! You will of course be hearing from me again soon, but I do hope all goes well for you. I pray you stay encouraged and that if you do find yourself overwhelmed, that you’re able to quickly find your way back to a place of balance. We’ve all experienced varying levels of stress from time to time, but making time for yourself is one of many great ways to combat it.
I’d love to hear about what you like to do in your “me-time”. Let me know in the comments!