This week Fords on campus will be pausing and reflecting on the importance of taking care of themselves in the midst of their busy everyday lives. I asked some of our Year After editors and their friends to personally define self-care and share some strategies they employ to prioritize themselves in the midst of the semester. Enjoy!
What are the challenges to finding time or prioritizing self-care?
Vanessa Morales ‘19: The challenges in my life to prioritize self-care mainly stem from cultural differences and a busy schedule. Self-care was never introduced to me before Haverford. Coming from a Mexican family, machismo was valued – sticking out the pain, discomfort of situations was preferable to hearing complaints, whining, and tears. However, since I’m a very emotional person, those things were my outlet. I’m starting to learn how to use those outlets just be, and how to turn my anxiety, sadness, and/or even anger into something productive. I make sure to let myself be around other people, to treat myself every now and then with a new lipstick or a trip into Philly, or even a night-in with Netflix. I recognized the importance in doing these things because they helped reduce the negative feelings I had, they made life feel more manageable and made me feel like I was in control when I set time aside for myself.
Tania Ortega ‘19: Not considering self-care is important because you have all these other responsibilities that seem much more important because they’re more important – but in retrospect, they’re not worth sacrificing self-care.
Elom Tettey-Temaklo ‘19: Sometimes the pursuit of our goals seem to be the most important aspects of our lives as students therefore we do not even focus on caring for ourselves. In many instances, “self-care” may seem to be a waste of time especially as you have many deadlines to meet. The issue of meeting family expectations is also a challenge that diminishes the importance of self care.
How do you personally define self-care? What is a work-life balance?
Vanessa Morales ‘19: To me, self-care is taking the time to be honest with yourself, and by doing so, you then know yourself better, and how to make yourself feel better from everything going in your life. Self-care then for me is taking the time to treat myself the way I would want others to treat me – with kindness, respect, concern when it all hits the fan, and with love. Ways I do this is reconnecting with my family and friends, reading a book I always meant to but college readings took priority, going to watch that new movie by myself because I wanted to treat myself and learn to be okay with being alone (a very hard lesson I’m still working through, that will pay off in the long run.) A work-life balance to me seems to be a fine line between working hard and playing hard. It’s making sure you’re putting in your all, 100%, into classes and work, but also making sure to relax and have fun when you’re not grinding out homework sets, reflections, papers, and everything else you have going on.
Karen Mondaca ‘20: Self-care is a mix of being alone and also being with people. But I make sure to set time aside for myself, even 30 minutes, but everyday and recognizing that you’re wonderful on your own.
Elom Tettey-Temaklo ‘17: Personally, I feel self-care is a holistic, intentional treatment of the human person which is meant to relive, restore and rejuvenate oneself. Self care can take many forms, the traditional being activities suited to an individual which improves an individual’s mood and makes them feel better. However, self care also has another dimension which is often times underexplored. The other dimension involves making key decisions and, or changes which will have far reaching implications in the future. Some of these decisions include but are not limited to, how one studies, prioritizing work when one needs to etc. A work-life balance is the maintenance of a healthy relationship between school work and social life. When one outweighs the other, its disastrous effects are often experienced by no one but the individual. This includes but is not limited to mental, emotional and psychological breakdowns, non-achievement of goals etc. This dimension of self-care is more active and involves the human person intentionally seeking opportunities that would shape their futures.
Alejandro Wences ‘17: I personally define self-care as doing the things that you feel that you need to do in order to have a healthy mind and body. For a work-life balance, it is where you’re able to not have one trump the other. While work is definitely important and it involves things that will earn you money in the future, having moments where you prioritize yourself or put your life first are important as well. This is to ensure that you grow to enjoy your life and not have it completely swamped with stress.
Many, many times I consider just stopping because the world seems like it’s never going to change. But there are those beautiful moments that remind me that work I’m doing is important, and it does matter
What do you personally specifically need to do in order to find balance between your work and life at Haverford?
Vanessa Morales ‘19: I use a google calendar to help define that line between work and life here at Haverford. I schedule in sleep, meals, classes, professors’ office hours, question center hours, study time, work schedule, rugby practices, and time for friends, Netflix. This can seem a bit restrictive, but in many ways it’s fluid because nothing is set in stone – it’s just a calendar and things can be canceled or rescheduled because that’s simply the way life is really. It also reminds me of what’s already going on in my life, so I can say no – which is something I’m still “learning” to do without feeling bad/guilty. It is okay to say no, and yes FOMO (fear of missing out is real) but taking care of yourself is also real and important.
Elom Tettey-Temaklo ‘17: I think the key to this is scheduling. Because of the secluded nature of Haverford, you can easily get lost in the Haverbubble and end up in the routine of seeing the same people and doing the same thing on repeat. When one is able to do academic work at the appropriate/ scheduled times you get time to involve yourself in other non-academic activities. Therefore, in getting that good work and life balance at Haverford, schedule, schedule, schedule! (oh and stick to it)
To me, self-care is taking the time to be honest with yourself, and by doing so, you then know yourself better, and how to make yourself feel better from everything going in your life.
If you’re involved in social justice work how do you manage self-care in work that is emotionally demanding and often very distressing?
Vanessa Morales ‘19: Being involved in social justice work is consuming, it’s draining and exhausting in ways that classwork and work schedules aren’t. Many, many times I consider just stopping because the world seems like it’s never going to change. But there are those beautiful moments that remind me that work I’m doing is important, and it does matter – it can be a conversation with a peer, it can be seeing how your work empowers the people around you, it can also be as simple as someone telling you that you matter. However, it’s also important to recognize your limits and learning to be okay with taking a step back. In doing so, you can channel your energies into other aspects of your life for the meanwhile.
Elom Tettey-Temaklo ‘17: With such work, it’s essential to know yourself and what gets you back in focus. From management strategies such as seeing someone at CAPS to drinking hot chocolate over a romantic comedy, you need to know what works for you. For me, my faith and prayer is one of my main grounding factors, therefore when the emotional demands of school life or other work are at my neck, I turn to God in prayer and reading of scripture. Basically, find what works for you and never be afraid to turn to it!
Alejandro Wences ‘17: “My friends are one of the best ways that I am able to channel my stress. They are understand people who often know what I need to hear. So after dealing with a stressful environment, I then message our Latinx group in the hopes of meeting up.”