By: Shayna Sullivan
Self care has always been something that I hold very close to my heart; I have always tried hard to give myself some time to decompress from the week. Senior year has come with some very incredibly difficult barriers for me to avoid when it comes to taking time for self care. This semester, I have had the amazing opportunity to be an intern to a speech-language pathologist at a collaborative school in Worcester. This internship is a part of my Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies major, and I need to complete it in order to graduate. I am doing this 400 hour internship on top of 2 classes, being on the executive board of 2 clubs, and peer tutoring. I have found myself with little to no personal time on the weekdays and those hours that I may get to myself, I find myself socializing with my roommates, or on the phone with family.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love doing everything that I am doing this semester and I do not mind being busy, but the lack of time for myself has begun to take a real toll on my mental health. As an intern and a senior trying to get the best experiences to build my resume (I am also applying to graduate school), I have found it challenging to say no when opportunities arise. I tend to struggle with wanting to be a people pleaser. I always want to make a good impression on everyone I meet. What I have found as a common trend is that people tend to like you more when you do what they ask, no questions. This semester, I have made myself a “Yes Woman”, meaning I take on everything people ask of me, no matter how busy I am. I have also been known to seek out extra tasks in order to be seen as helpful.
What I noticed around week 3 was that I was tired all the time, I did not look forward to doing much of anything, and socializing felt like an obligation rather than something fun. My mental health was quickly plummeting from being relatively stable, to me being an anxious mess. Being an intern can be difficult because you feel that it is your job to accept all tasks. Work wasn’t where I was beginning to worry about becoming a “Yes Woman” though. I was more worried about it in my clubs, my part time job, and my social life. I work everyday 8:30-4, and for the most part, work stays at work. What I noticed was that my tendencies to accept every task as an intern were beginning to carry over into the other aspects of my life. This made everyday life extremely hard to manage.
As an adult, it is important to understand when to say no to things. It is incredibly vital to your mental health and well being that we know our boundaries and when to stop piling things on. College students have a hard time doing this. I have found myself this semester repeating the phrase, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” like it was a mantra. It took me a minute to realize that this was actually incredibly unhealthy. You should not care more about not disappointing others than you do your own well being. It is important to schedule small pockets of time for yourself into your weeks. Take a nap, watch a movie, read a good book, and listen to some music. Just make sure that there is at least some time in your day allotted to caring for yourself. What I have learned is that it is almost impossible to do your best work when you are being pulled in 3,000 directions. Lightening your load just may make the quality of work you are doing better as you will have a more manageable load and more time to work on individual projects . Don’t be a “Yes Woman/Man” if it means sacrificing the time you need for self care. No project, person, class, job, or ANYTHING is worth your mental health.