I’ve only been at college for a couple weeks. And my workaholic tendencies are already going strong. As in virtually all of my classes, I am somehow working ahead. I must say, my level of productivity is pretty mind-blowing. But it’s also quite overwhelming.
I’ve never been fully diagnosed with any specific anxiety, but I know that if I’m not depressed, I’m probably utilizing as much of my productivity as I can, which usually leads to overworking myself and stressing out about projects and assignments that aren’t even relevant until next month.
As I’ve previously mentioned, I work ahead on my blog, too. By the time this is posted, I will be visiting my family and think about returning to campus. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know I’ll probably be thinking about homework or somehow completing more assignments despite taking a mini-break for the longer weekend.
My ultimate problem is that during school, I still struggle with finding a healthy mindset toward work. My loved ones know that “lazy” is the last word you’d use to describe my personality and work ethic, but I use so much focus and energy toward my work that I get to points of letting the depression take over, where I can’t get myself to do anything, and even recreational activities don’t keep my attention. And the little anxiety voice in the back of my head complains about the time I’m wasting that I could be using for something else. But I physically and mentally can’t get myself to do anything.
Even those without mental illness experience this daily stress as the daily schedule comes back into full swing. Especially for freshmen who want to do as many activities as possible, if a healthy balance isn’t in the works, an area of life is bound to suffer. From personal experience from my first year, that area was my mental and physical health. I took time that needed to be spent eating good meals and just relaxing toward “more important” things. I know college students joke about not sleeping and living off of caffeine, but it’s an actual problem. If you aren’t taking care of your well-being, the foundation to take care of any other responsibilities, you will inevitably crash. Hard.
Your assignments can wait. Your clubs and activities and work can wait. For the sake of your well-being, you deserve it. College is temporary, but your health is with you for life. A day not spent studying or a less-than-normal grade will not matter too much in the retrospect of things (depending on the test). If you need a mental health day, take it. Or even a sick day in general, just do it (probably not what Nike had in mind with that slogan, but whatever).
I even suggest having a “toolbox” of different strategies and activities you can refer back to when you need some comfort and clarity. This is where I throw in some self-care into the mix because it will always be important. No matter how you prioritize the different aspects of college, the schoolwork and social life and everything else, I highly encourage putting wellness and self-care high on the list.
When it comes to schoolwork and everything in between, develop healthy habits now. No need to work ridiculously ahead like I do, but avoid procrastinating to the point of pulling all-nighters. Find the best way of studying for you, whether that is taking notes or making flashcards or taking online quizzes. Actually go to class and participate in discussions. Build up relationships with professors. Use Google calendars or an agenda to plan your life so you aren’t scrambling. These tips go for any level of schooling, so I suggest starting early so the transition to college life is that much easier.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Personally, I usually avoid asking for help by instinct. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really found how beneficial it can be. Trust me, it doesn’t make you look clueless or weak to go to your parents, professors or health professionals for guidance. It actually shows people that you aren’t afraid to know your limits and expertise. Because you don’t know everything. Getting an outside perspective is so important, no matter the question. And yes, there are some dumb questions out there, but that is dependent on your intentions of the question.
And life isn’t all about work. Even if you have to specifically plan it, like the workaholic like me, make time for fun. No matter what you consider fun. Last year I had to specifically set a goal to socialize at least once a month, which sounds slightly ridiculous, but I needed that reminder to set aside the work sometimes and just make memories with great people. For others, they just automatically lean toward socializing more often and lower expectations on schoolwork. I’m of the mentality that if I’m paying for my education, I’m taking it very seriously, but I get to the point of taking it so seriously that I mentally implode. This is a period of life unlike any other, before the daily grind of full-time work, where you have the freedom to really explore and meet others, so take advantage of it. Most of the time, my idea of fun is binge-watching TV. Whatever floats your boat.
Some of these words of advice are very self-explanatory, but sometimes we really need those basic reminders. In the retrospect of focusing on the daily activities, however, these logical tips can easily go to the wayside. Kudos to those with diagnosed anxiety of handling college, because even with minor anxiety, I don’t know how you do it. But everyone experiences anxiety. How we manage those uncomfortable emotions is the true test. In the grading system of life, it can have a fairly high value on your final score. So take the time you need to prepare for it. (Trying to make relevant metaphors. Key word here is try).
I’m bad at listening to my own advice. Hopefully I can listen to these words and just chill for once. Or not feel guilty for seeing loved ones or sharing a meal with my boyfriend rather than reading that extra chapter. But I know my health will thank me for it.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie