Importance of taking a break, going easy, and asking for help

By Sojin Shin || Op-Eds Editor

By this point in the semester, most of us are settled in. We have memorized our schedules. We know which library to stay at in between classes. We know the most convenient lunch spots, and we may have become friends with a couple of our classmates. Most importantly, professors are finished easing us in. Work has begun, and assignments are piling up at an alarming rate. Our instinct is to say “Let the Grind begin!” There will come hours of grunt work, caffeinated nights, and tear-stained papers that you forgot to staple.

While doing assignments is inevitably stressful, there are many ways to manage that stress. Although working to death sounds appealing, sometimes the key is in resting. Here are some ways to survive your busy semester.

First, don’t feel guilty about not doing work. I have noticed that what torments most people isn’t actually doing work but the dread they feel when not doing it. This guilt is so persistent that it pervades our thoughts at all moments: drinking a cup of coffee, talking with a friend, or even before that moment of peaceful sleep. To be frank, it’s not really our fault. We’ve been taught for 12+ years that not devoting every second of our lives to what we are assigned to do is immoral. What makes anything moral, though? We need education to be a better person, but we also need to eat. We need to talk with people. We need to stretch, laugh, and complain about Dhall. In a way, these needs are just as much tasks as a reflection paper might be. When you are resting, you are fulfilling your duties accordingly. Celebrate it! Embrace it! Drink that hot chocolate! Maybe don’t overdo it and procrastinate.

Second, find an ideal form of rest. While drinking herbal tea or doing meditation is generally considered a good practice, it’s not for everyone. Some people relax when they are in the company of others. Some people prefer hours of rock music in a dim room. I personally listen to Broadway music and pretend that I just won a Tony. Try working out, crocheting, baking, or even doing laundry. Use a break to figure out your preferences. We don’t get to do that frequently with all the assigned readings, labs, and workshops, so a break is a good time to figure ourselves out.

Convention demands that I have a third tip. In the spirit of breaks, I omitted it. 

Here is an idea to entertain, though. Even if someone is the most productive being in the world, there is a chance that doing as much work as they would like to and taking a break is impossible. There are a couple ways to remedy this. One is to simply ask for help: writing center, friends, office hours. If that isn’t enough, try asking for an extension. Most professors are willing to give a day or two, given that you explain your situation. Of course, all measures fail from time to time. What do we do then? 

I say, be a little sloppy. Doing our best only means doing as much as our capacities allow. Our capacities constantly fluctuate, because they are bound by restrictions of time, mental health, external resources, and simple passion. So, we can be sloppier than usual and still be doing our best! One project isn’t a reflection of one’s ability as a whole. Even though some things are worth dying a little bit for (as Madonna says), dying can’t be a way of life. Let’s be a little sloppy. Let’s all be forgiving towards ourselves. Let’s have a cup of tea and celebrate that we are alive and well.

Sophomore Sojin Shin is the Op-Eds Editor. Her email is sshin@fandm.edu

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