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Students discuss the importance of self-care

Lauren Urschel, Online Editor

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It’s late on a Thursday night and you’re on your fourth cup of coffee, trying desperately to keep yourself up for just a few more hours. You have two tests to study for, 40 pages to read, an essay to finish, and math homework, all of which must be done by tomorrow morning. You rest your head on your desk and glance at the clock, which tells you it’s well past 1:00am. Putting your work away, you decide sleep is more important than getting an A on the test you didn’t finish studying for.

Many high school students face the struggle of choosing between their health and their academic duties each day, and a majority choose their work over taking care of themselves. However, in recent years, there’s been an effort among young adults to promote self-care and relaxation over overexertion and overworking. Senior Amayah Meadows said she’s noticed people have recently come to see that self-care is necessary.

“I think in this generation we’ve kind of come to the realization that it’s important in order to be the most efficient in all aspects of life,” Meadows said. “I know that didn’t use to be a common belief a long time ago, but I think we’re doing pretty well in balancing out our personal, self-care and everything and work, school, and other obligations we have.”

According to National Public Radio (NPR), self-care is a $10 billion dollar industry that is continuing to grow. In fact, over the past five years, Google searches for “self-care” have generally increased and have now reached an all-time high in 2018, according to Google Trends. Senior Katherine Garrett said social media platforms have helped her gain an interest in taking care of herself.

“Pinterest has surprisingly shown me the importance of self-care because it’s kind of a positive environment,” Garrett said. “There are a lot of posts that go around that just show the importance of self-care, including things like hydration, eating healthy, taking naps, going to bed early, etc.”

There is much evidence of how social media has taken ahold of the self-love trend. Instagram accounts dedicated to positivity, Pinterest boards for tips on relaxation, and trends like #MyTipsforMentalHealth on Twitter all keep the interest in taking caring of yourself alive. So, why this newfound obsession with self-love? Meadows said self-care is an important part of a healthy life.

“If you do not take care of yourself, if you give too much to others without giving back to yourself, you’re going to run out of energy to give to others, and you’re just going to feel drained and stressed all the time,” Meadows said. “You need to take time to do things you enjoy, like, make time to do things you enjoy.”

According to PsychCentral, self-care can be defined as any activity done deliberately to improve mental, emotional, or physical health. The website goes on to suggest this idea is not selfish, either; it is meant to help improve an individual so that individual can live their life in the best manner possible. Self-care is also different from relaxation in some ways, because sometimes relaxing is not beneficial. Meadows said there are times for her when relaxing is harmful rather than helpful.

“I know a lot of times I will stay up really late to ‘relax’, but I actually end up getting more hurt in the end because I’m like tired the next day and I can’t do anything,” Meadows said. “Like today, I stayed up really late watching Bob’s Burgers and I fell asleep in photography class.”

While relaxing is taking a break from work, sometimes taking care of oneself means getting things done and being productive to reduce anxiety and stress, and increase success. Junior Saadia Siddiqua said although she does take time to herself most days, there are times when work is more important.

“I do make time to relax because I was always stressed when I started working right away when I got home, so I had time to just enjoy myself,” Siddiqua said. “Sometimes…if I like have a lot of homework or a test then I have to sacrifice that time to study or do well.”

Siddiqua said finding a balance between responsibilities and caring for oneself is a large part of self-care. If one overworks themselves to succeed and never takes a moment to recuperate, chances are he or she will burn out. On the other hand, ignoring all work to watch Netflix will not lead to living a successful, productive lifestyle. She said many of her peers know the importance of self-care, but don’t take the time to participate in it.

“A lot of people just overwork themselves and are always stressed,” Siddiqua said. “They come right home from school, go straight to practice, and then cram themselves with homework and they take classes that are too much for them, so that’s not good.”

Similar to Siddiqua, Meadows said she’s observed her peers pushing themselves too hard in school or work and not taking care of their own health. On the other hand, Meadows said self-care can reach a level where it’s not healthy.

“Some people kind of ‘over-self-care’ and they talk about like ‘self-care night’ and then don’t study,” Meadows said. “You know…self-care is not just herbal baths and sleeping in and doing things you enjoy, it’s eating good food-healthy food-and getting enough sleep, and maybe you don’t enjoy those things, but those are necessary.”

There are many ways to participate in self-care in a healthy, beneficial manner. For example, some people take bubble baths, read, take a nap, or exercise. Meadows said she recommends journaling to those interested in self-care.

“In the morning I wake up and I just have 15 minutes where I write down everything I’m thinking about,” Meadows said. “It helps get out anxieties and kind of organize my day, so I’m not freaking out about forgetting things or anything like that… even if you don’t keep up with it all the time it’s good to just have it and start it so you have motivation to keep going. Keeping a journal definitely helps me, it’s the most relaxing thing I have right now.”

Sometimes, self-love doesn’t require energy. Garrett said her main form of taking care of herself comes in napping.

“I love to take a nap everyday after school, because I’m always really tired after going to school all day,” Garrett said. “I also love to relax just by watching TV or reading a book.”

Siddiqua said her chosen methods of relaxation are “bubble baths, writing, singing, and doing makeup.” She said she gives her father credit for inspiring her to take care of herself while still working hard.

“He’s a really great worker so he’s like, ‘Saadia, get great grades. Do all of this,’ but he also tells me there’s no point in working so hard if you can’t also be happy and enjoy what you’re doing,” Siddiqua said.

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The Mass Communications Site of Blue Valley Southwest
Students discuss the importance of self-care