Katherine Chiu, Region III SAC Representative
August 22, 2018
Today, I want to talk about stress, sleep, and setting boundaries!
I’m coming at this topic from personal experience in tackling years and years of sleep deprivation, and finally shifting my sleep schedule in the name of quality sleep. Last year, I was going to bed as late as 4 AM regularly and getting roughly 3 hours of sleep. Now, I am going to bed as late as 12:30 AM regularly and getting roughly 6.5 hours of sleep! I am so proud of my personal accomplishment that I want to share some of the realizations that helped me to achieve my sleep goals. By the end of this blog post, I hope you will feel like quality sleep is not only a possibility, but also a priority.
Realization #1: THE IMPORTANCE OF RELAXING ACTIVITIES BEFORE SLEEP
All people experience some emblem of stress – whether it’s related to academics, work, finances, events, relationships, or personal challenges. For college students? It can be any number of these, or all of them at once! Not to mention the looming future that continually calls upon us to make difficult decisions and choices. You put all of that together and it’s a recipe for disaster. I’ve come to realize that going to bed stressed creates a negative mental space for my sleep, which ultimately contributes to worsened sleep quality. I had more difficulty falling asleep, and found myself waking up with increasingly less energy. In order to combat the overwhelming stress and produce a serene mental space before bed, I started:
Realization #2: THE IMPORTANCE OF INTENTIONALLY ENDING YOUR DAY
In today’s academic environment, there is always something to do, always something to accomplish, always something you “should” be doing. Unfortunately, expectations for students in college are at an all-time high. Students are not only committing time to their full-time job as students, but they are also committing time to jobs that will earn them money alongside other academic, volunteer, or recreational interests. In order to combat the endless tasks and end my work day, I started:
Realization #3: THE IMPORTANCE OF TAKING YOUR HEALTH INTO YOUR OWN HANDS
Your health is your responsibility. Only YOU have the power to make significant and sustainable changes in regard to your dimensions of wellness. So, why is it that we allow other people and things to negatively influence it? Yes, our health is a product of our decisions, but our decisions can often be the product of our environment. Identifying a toxic environment and adjusting the way you handle, receive, or cope with it can potentially prevent toxic decision-making (i.e. stress eating, staying up until 4 AM, or retreating to alcohol or other substances).
One of the hardest parts in doing this is communicating to others what YOU need. Before I told people what I need, I was sacrificing my health and well-being on a daily basis. The consequences for me were a lack of sleep, irritable mood, lack of patience & motivation, gaining roughly 40 pounds, and decreased academic performance & self-confidence. Now, I promise this isn’t intended to scare you! The BENEFITS of telling people what I needed were a full night’s rest, consistently pleasant mood, increased patience & motivation, losing roughly 20 pounds, and increased self-confidence. (Hopefully the academic performance will increase too when the school year starts!
When you tell people what you need to thrive and succeed, they will listen and respect you. Most people are very receptive to prioritization of personal health! Next time, try saying: “I need to allot 2 hours every day to go to the gym, so I won’t be able to tend to anything during that time” or “I need to go to bed at a reasonable hour, so I won’t be able to stay for the remainder of the meeting if it goes past 9 PM.” In order to combat the overflow of obligations and take responsibility for my health, I started:
This year, I’m striving to put my health and wellbeing first! I’m going to get some good sleep, and not think twice about it. I hope you will all join me in decluttering your schedule and mind for the benefit of you and only you.
Thanks for reading!
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