With summer soon coming to an end, Wellbeing Editor Jasmine Burke discusses the need to put yourself first and not bow into the pressures associated with "keeping busy" over the summer break.
I ended my second year of University feeling like a shell of the person I really was. I was absolutely exhausted, longing for a break and ready for my summer to begin. So, what did I do? Jump straight into the next task.
We’re under the impression that if we’re not keeping busy then we’re not “living”, and that leaves us forgetting that we’re not machines. We need to rest too.
A week after heading back home I was on a plane to Chicago, 4 days after my return from Chicago I was at my first road trip destination in Morocco, and 3 days after returning from Morocco I began my big summer internship. I had no time to breathe, no time to recover from the hectic school year and none of that occurred to me until it hit me all at once.
A week into my internship I encountered my first free weekend in months and subsequently, the first chance my mind had to let go. The whole of that Saturday passed, and I was still lying in my bed, staring at the ceiling, feeling like my body wasn’t even mine. I couldn’t bring myself to move and nothing felt worth doing. It occurred to me at that moment that I had done this to myself: I hadn’t listened to my body and given it the rest that it deserved.
Massive headache, and still gotta finish off a blog post, cook dinner, wash my hair and pack for Bristol tomorrow 🙃 yep this is totally resting— Jasmine (@thoughtsfromjas) July 15, 2018
Over the last couple of years, I’ve realised that this tends to be a habit of mine. Whenever I am allowed time to rest, or simply given a chance to relax and have some “me” time, I convince myself that I am undeserving. My mind tells me that if I’m not busy then I’m not going to do well in life, when in reality, that busyness could be the thing that ends up destroying me.
Photo by Epigram / Jasmine Burke
We, as a society, associate busyness and productivity with togetherness. The woman walking down the street in her fancy suit, clutching her coffee while she simultaneously takes an international conference call and files her nails is admirable, and yet the one who lies on the sofa watching Netflix is a slob. We’re under the impression that if we’re not keeping busy then we’re not “living”, and that leaves us forgetting that we’re not machines. We need to rest too.
The other day I sat down and realised that I have a month and a half left of my three month long summer, and my first thought was “But my break hasn’t even started yet”. If I carry on at the rate I’m going at, I’ll be starting the academic year just as tired as I left it, and if that isn’t a form of self-sabotage then I don’t know what is.
Maybe I want to be that lady in that fancy suit walking down the road clutching her coffee. However, there’s absolutely nothing saying that she can’t also be the lady lounging on the sofa watching Netflix.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with acknowledging that you’ve had a tough year and the best thing you can do for your body is give it time to relax. University is mentally taxing. We get given the summer off because we need that time to recover, therefore we should ensure that we do in fact take some time to recover. Doing something every second of everyday may look impressive, but the impact it can have is not worth the bragging rights.
I like to be busy. I like to feel like I’m needed and I’m doing something. Maybe I want to be that lady in that fancy suit walking down the road clutching her coffee. However, there’s absolutely nothing saying that she can’t also be the lady lounging on the sofa watching Netflix.
Looking after your mental health means making some space to pause. Bristol has a wealth of great open spaces - including around campus. The Japanese have a term called forest bathing - Shinrin-yoku and is widely prescribed in Japan as a form of preventative medicine to help manage stress. Over this week try to find space to stop, pause and take in our natural places around us. #mentalhealthawareness
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Running myself into the ground will leave me with a bitter taste in my mouth, rather than the “best summer ever”. I plan to get better at letting myself do nothing.
I don’t need to be busy. I need to put myself first.
Featured Image: Epigram / Jasmine Burke
Do you feel that there's pressure to have a busy summer? Comment below or get in touch!