Hello, my dearest fellow AOMA students. I’ve been relatively quiet and M.I.A. lately, so first I wanted to let you all know that I’m alive and surviving (as you can probably tell from the fact that I’m typing this).
My next blog post was planned to be a continuation on intentional breathing and its myriad of benefits; which is totally important and a super cool subject, so I promise it’s still coming. However, this week, I really felt the need to take this space to talk about something else.
And I hope that’s okay with you guys.
Y’all, this semester has been rough. And I mean rough. And it’s not just school; it’s life in general. I’m not sure if it’s some kind of cosmic disturbance or if this is just my path right now, but it hasn’t really been a ton of fun. If you’re still reading (and I hope you are), I’m not here today to drown you in my wordy woes. I wanted to write because I feel like I keep seeing people around me suffering from some of these same issues. I also feel like I might have really learned some things, even just in this past week alone, that I thought might be useful for someone else out there.
So here are some things I figured out that you might already know. But, I still think it’s helpful to see them again, and it’s even more helpful to practice them yourself.
So here it is, in all of its informal glory:
1. It’s okay to rest.
I know, I know. They tell us this from day one. But if you’re really honest with yourself, how much do you actually rest? Sleep is one thing. Sleep itself is the cornerstone of health, but that’s not necessarily what I’m talking about. I know so many of us who are constantly worried about the next quiz, the next test, the next benchmark or certification exam. And how can we not? It’s almost impossible not to feel like our success is dependent upon how well we do on these things. But listen – your success is not defined by a single test. Your worth is not defined by how long you study, how late you stay up, or how many study groups you attend. When I started to shift my focus on learning instead of making good marks, my life changed. The reason you aren’t truly resting may be because you feel guilty, or afraid of failing, or because you can’t get your mind to stop. Trust me, I feel you on all of it. Put your books aside, unplug your phone, and let yourself know that you deserve a break. You deserve not to think about school for a while. You work really, really hard. You deserve a few more episodes of Netflix.
2. Use the support that you have around you.
The people in class with you are also really run-down. If you don’t believe me, just ask the person sitting next to you. How are you feeling? How much sleep are you getting? Have you eaten anything that isn’t fast food in the last four weeks? You’ll be surprised. They’ll talk to you about it, and you can talk to them. Surround yourself with people that are studying the same things as you because they truly understand your workload – at least for that class. Sometimes I think we all try to put on a brave face and act like we’ve got it all under control, but it’s totally cool to tell other people that you’re struggling.
I don’t know if you know this yet, but Diane and Robert are saints. Literal SAINTS. Have you ever spoken to them alone? Like, by yourself? Really, go into Diane or Robert’s office, close the door, and let them know: “I’m having trouble handling things by myself.” They don’t make you feel like you should be doing things better than you are. They’ve been through this program and they know. They’ll even do everything they can to help you get some support from the YWCA if you want (I did that this week and I strongly recommend it to everyone on campus). Not to mention they’ll offer you all of the personal support they can. You won’t regret it.
Also, let me just say that sometimes, it’s totally normal to feel like you just cannot handle seeing other humans and their faces. Listen to that instinct and take the time to fly under the radar. Spend a nice weekend curled up alone and recharge.
3. Spend some time outside.
Did you know that if we don’t get enough sunlight (aka Vitamin D), it can actually cause a depressive-like state? You’ll feel sluggish, fatigued, and just bleh. Sunlight: it’s practically magic. Sometimes, I feel like I don’t even have the energy to drag myself out of bed, much less go anywhere other than to my car, class, and then back home. Getting sunlight doesn’t have to be complicated, though. You don’t have to plan an expedition with 12 of your closest friends to Barton Springs Pool with all the towels and sunscreen. And I know, it's hotter than a blister bug in a pepper patch outside. Just trust me on this one: sit outside for 10 minutes in the sun, even if it’s in your backyard, on your porch, or on your front steps. You know what? Don’t even close the door. Who cares about letting the AC out for 10 minutes? It’ll be fine.
After that, you can go back inside and nap (if you don’t have work or class). It’ll be your reward! But I’ll bet that you have a little more energy after that, and maybe even a sunnier disposition (hah). Maybe you won’t even want a nap! Maybe you’ll grab your Deadman book and perch outside for another 10 minutes. Who knows? But if you do nap, that’s okay too. And if anyone tells you any differently, you can send them my way.
When I started writing this post, I wasn’t sure I would have enough to say; as it turns out, I think I have even more stuff to tell you about. But I know you’re busy and don't have all day to read things, and I know times are tough. So take these little nuggets with you, and I’ll pick up next week on some more things you can do to help you nurture yourself a little bit more, a little at a time.
You can do this. You’re going to make it. You’re not alone.