Fresh Perspective | The importance of treating yourself

Fresh Perspective is a biweekly blog about typical college experiences made strange by the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Julia Smeltzer, Senior Staff Writer

Every Thursday after my last class of the week ends at 2:15 p.m., I begin my walk home from Old Engineering Hall and stop on Forbes Avenue. I’ve started a new tradition for myself. After I finish all of my classes for the week, I find something on Forbes Avenue to treat myself to. Whether it is my go-to Chipotle order, a Dunkin iced coffee or a new makeup product I find at Rite Aid, I always find something that brings me joy, something to congratulate myself on making it through another week of classes.

Thursdays have now become my favorite day of the week, and I look forward to when the clock strikes 2:15. Doing this has already improved my mental health slightly, as I have something to look forward to every week.

College is a very stressful atmosphere. As a second-semester junior who is always busy with class work or my off-campus job, I am finding less time to enjoy myself. I constantly have something to do or somewhere to be, and have less free time to do the things I enjoy most, like hanging out with my friends. In past semesters, I have had a lack of motivation to go to classes or get assignments done before they’re due as I would procrastinate everything. So this semester, implementing a weekly treat to reward myself for going to all of my classes and doing my work has brought some motivation back into my weekly schedule and has gotten me back on a solid routine. However, I’m starting to realize the importance of treating myself in small ways every day.

For example, on Sunday after a long day of work and coming home to sit at my computer to do two hours of homework, I treated myself to a movie night. I put away my computer and saved my work for the next day and enjoyed a new movie on Netflix. This might seem small, but allowing myself to put away the schoolwork and just relax is a treat. Instead of staying up until 1 a.m. completing assignments for the week, I watched a movie, did a facemask and got a great night’s sleep.

Usually, on Monday nights after class, I head to the gym to get a workout in. However, this Monday I was feeling really sluggish and tired from class and doing schoolwork for most of the day. Instead of pushing myself to go to the gym, I took the best nap of my life. I woke up with my hair going in every direction and pillow marks on my face. I knew it was what my body needed instead of overexerting myself at the gym.

Treating yourself doesn’t always mean you have to spend money. Even though retail therapy is good for the soul every now and then, there are ways to treat yourself every day. We are busy college students feeling the weight of the world on our shoulders. Between classes, extracurricular activities, work and stress about the future, we can lose touch with ourselves. It is important to take care of ourselves and our mental health every day, and you don’t always need to drop some cash in order to do so.

Something like taking a great nap, going on a walk, having an at-home spa night or taking time to pick up the book you’ve been meaning to read for weeks are all ways you can treat yourself. Making this a priority every day will help relieve some of the everyday pressure of being a college student. It’s also important for you to feel rewarded and proud of yourself for getting through the day.

There are days where getting out of bed seems like the hardest thing to do. If you are able to do that, go to classes, or cross off one thing that is on your to-do list, you should be proud of yourself, and you deserve a reward for that. Now, if you are unable to find the motivation to do mundane tasks, have grace with yourself. Sometimes we all just need a day to lay in bed and put away our responsibilities for a little bit, and that’s okay. We’re all human, and sometimes we need a break.

The moral of the story is to find one thing in your day that you are proud of, and reward yourself. Not everyone, especially college students, has extra money to spend on food, iced coffee or new things they find at stores, but as I said, there are still ways to treat yourself every day. We all deserve to feel rewarded for the things we accomplish during our days or week. So find time to do something nice for yourself — you will thank yourself later.

Julia Smeltzer writes primarily about mental health and college experiences. You can reach her at [email protected].