Student Ambassador, Timmy Farrell, discusses the importance of self-care.
Self-care is a bit of a passion of mine. I’ve struggled with anxiety since the beginning of my sophomore year of college. Ever since then, I have made it a priority to make efforts to take care of myself. During the semester, this mostly involves finding ways to manage my external responsibilities with my internal needs. I am very involved at UMBC including my classes and my extracurricular activities which I find very fulfilling. But, I also need enough sleep, food, and a clear mind among other things in order to be a healthy human being. While I have still struggled some, I have found in practicing self-care, paying purposeful attention to both of those aspects of my life has decreased the amount of stress in my life.
At UMBC, I keep myself very busy by participating in my classes, my student organization, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), leadership development programs as a facilitator, and working in the UMBC Writing Center. Very early on in the semester, I realized that it was too much for me to keep all in my head. So, I started using a Google calendar to keep track of all of my responsibilities. I put all those commitments in my calendar for the entire semester and continued to update it. I could even create events and add other attendees and other information to know the exact details of my responsibilities. In that way, I can see everything I need to do in one place and don’t have to worry about forgetting something.
As it became closer to the end of the semester and finals week, even with my Google calendar, it became difficult to remember all of the specific tasks that I needed to do with my classes and extracurricular activities. So, at the recommendation of a friend, I started to use a web-based app called Momentum. It allows me to create a to-do list and a focus for the day. The app pops up whenever I create a new tab on my computer and I am able to see everything on my to-do list. It came in very handy as I was trying to complete my final assignments for the semester. For example, I was able to put an American Studies essay and Media and Communication Studies project on my to-do list which were my final big assignments in those classes. It helped me cover all of my bases as I couldn’t put all of my assignments on my Google calendar in an effective way. Momentum, in combination with my Google calendar, allows me to manage of all my external responsibilities.
After my external responsibilities have been looked after, I also try to focus on my internal needs. As a college student, I have found it quite easy to forget about myself amidst all my responsibilities. Having realized that, one of the things that I do to fulfill my needs is to pay intentional attention to them. In the middle of working, I will literally ask myself, “What do I need?” I did it as often as I could as the end of the semester approached. Often the answer was food, sleep, a break, or human contact. Then, I would purposefully try to accommodate that need to the best of my ability. After I took care of that need, I returned to my work with a rejuvenated attitude. Overall, it wasn’t always easy or successful. Sometimes I still felt very overwhelmed by everything. Moreover, there were also times where I opted to focus on my work instead of my needs. But I did feel that I took care of myself better than I had in the past. In my book, that’s progress and I’ll take it.
Peace and love to you!