In the midst of America’s fast-paced and demanding work culture, finding time for yourself can be a challenge. Balancing academic responsibilities, work commitments, and maintaining relationships often consumes every available moment, leaving personal time a distant memory. Neglecting self-care while striving to tackle an ever-growing to-do list is all too common.
However, as the saying goes, “Schedule system maintenance, or the system will schedule it for you.” Burnout is a real concern, exacerbated by the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The last thing you want is to sacrifice your personal life for the grind and exhaust yourself. Personal time is not a luxury; it’s a necessity and a crucial element in maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Yet, disconnecting from work and truly unwinding at home can be easier said than done. According to a 2019 study by Pawel et al., work addiction is characterized by a compulsion to work and a preoccupation with work activities, resulting in significant harm and distress. While the responsibility for overcoming this addiction ultimately rests with the individual, societal pressures often perpetuate this unhealthy behavior. In a culture that celebrates relentless work ethics and glamorizes workaholism, it can be challenging to switch off or simply relax when the opportunity arises.
One solution is to schedule time for yourself deliberately. When examining your weekly calendar, prioritize your well-being by scheduling personal time first. Instead of viewing the time left after commitments as another opportunity to check off tasks, see it as a chance to recharge and rejuvenate. Write “me” into your schedule during those free moments, so you recognize that this time is exclusively reserved for your mental health. This is especially crucial if your schedule feels overwhelmingly packed. Place your mental well-being at the top of your to-do list if necessary.
As for how you spend your “me” time, it doesn’t have to adhere to a specific agenda. It can involve meditation, catching up with a friend, indulging in a video game, losing yourself in a good book, taking an untimed nap, watching a video without multitasking, engaging in a creative pursuit, or even strolling around your neighborhood. Use this time to do whatever brings relaxation and joy.
However, scheduling this time for yourself is only the first step. The most crucial part is sticking to it. It’s tempting to glance at your scheduled self-care time and consider reallocating it for yet another task you’ve been postponing. Resist this urge. Taking your mental health seriously means allocating adequate time to recharge. Whether it’s half an hour or an entire evening, treat this time with the respect it deserves. If someone requests your availability during your scheduled self-care time, politely inform them that you have a prior commitment. This time belongs to you, and you have every right to enjoy it guilt-free. Remember, you deserve to unwind, and your to-do list will still be there tomorrow. By putting yourself first and prioritizing your well-being, you’ll be better equipped to face the challenges of the world after a moment of self-care. Now, make yourself a cup of tea and take a well-deserved break.
By: Lucian Van Fleet
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