The Daily Gamecock

Column: 'Me time' is important

Today we live in a world where meeting deadlines, taking on new challenges and participating in social events are encouraged and often forced on us, but all of these commitments quickly take a toll on our bodies and minds. To combat this pressure, we need to take time out for ourselves and practice self-care.

Being faced with so many demands can cause exhaustion and high-stress levels that result in burnout. Society tends to exaggerate and glorify the benefits of overworking yourself, sacrificing your health to achieve a goal or "hustle culture," especially on social media, which contributes to deteriorating health.

“You cannot be 100% productive all the time. And even if you could, I wouldn’t recommend it,” Dr. Elizabeth-Clare Porter, the director of counseling and psychiatry for Student Health Services, said. “It’s important to take time out for things that are important to you."

Continuous focus for an extended period of time can be exhausting, so individuals need regular breaks to feel more refreshed and self-aware. While stress causes people to experience mood swings and develop a lack of concentration, it also tends to manifest itself physically. Insomnia, headaches, low energy and chest pain are just a few symptoms WebMD noted one might undergo when stressed. 

"I think it’s very important to refocus and help yourself calm down and get the stress away from the day and stuff," Victoria Henderson, a first-year psychology student, said. "And me personally, I like to just sit and do music, and sometimes I like to work out. It just helps me.” 

A busy schedule is usually caused by our tendency to say "yes" to whatever opportunities we are presented with. However, saying "no" to certain situations can help balance your schedule and allow you to prioritize yourself instead. 

There are periods when you will be left with your own thoughts during "me time," but this time allows you to reflect on who you are, who you want to be, what you want and how you can achieve that. 

You may also begin to question your goals, passions and values, which we don’t typically get to do in our daily lives. Once you are able to contemplate these questions, they will become answers and you may begin to feel more fulfilled. 

Taking time out for yourself allows you to improve the relationship between your mind and body so you can perform at your best. According to Direction Psychology, once you allow yourself to have "me time," your mind and body will begin to operate in sync and provide balance for your intrapersonal wellness.  

“I think if you’re taking so much time for recreation that you’re not able to fulfill some sort of personal goal that you have in another area, that’s when I would start to question, 'Do I need to take some time out of that category and put it into another category?'” Porter said. 

You should not feel guilty or ashamed when you take time for yourself. 

When you go out of your way to care for your own well-being, others should reciprocate your feelings and respect that you value yourself. With more self-care, you may also begin to feel more in the right mind to support those who mean a lot to you.

"I’m very introverted, so I like to stay in my room and let myself recharge after a long day,” Edwina Wang, a first-year undeclared student, said. “I usually just lay in bed and listen to music or watch something on Netflix.”

Engaging in "me time" does not necessarily have to be done alone. Hanging out with friends or a significant other can also be a healthy way to maintain your health, as long as you are enjoying and prioritizing yourself. Some other ways to take part in "me time" include reading, meditating, drawing, exercising, watching a show or movie, painting your nails or going tech-free. 

"Me time" allows you to unplug and destress from a world that can be taxing at times. The pressure to constantly be productive and pour your feelings into other avenues is draining and not healthy for anybody in the long run. 

No matter how much time you take out of the day to have "me time," what you do matters, and it should contribute positively to your health and self-worth. Take time to relax and don’t forget to be kind to yourself.