Hamel: You do you, and you do it well


Columnist Peyton Hamel suggests that Iowa State students should focus on self-care and self-belief above anything else. 

Peyton Hamel

We need to take more time to breathe and relax for ourselves, by ourselves. We surround ourselves with people nearly all day, whether that be during classes, labs, part-time jobs or at home with roommates. Do college students ever stop hustling and bustling to sit and debrief? To recollect themselves? To relax? 

No, not a lot of the time. Essentially, college students are human squirrels. We shake, shiver and really have no sense of where we are going at any point in time. They never really rest, at least not that much anyway. They always search for food and run in circles because…do they ever know where they are going?

Stress is a healthy stimulus at a certain level, but past that level stress is counter-productive. Stress promotes various mental health issues, which is especially prevalent on college campuses. A 2014 survey found that 33 percent of students surveyed reported having suffered from serious depression. A 2016 study reported that 39 percent of students were struggling with at least one mental illness, according to Healthline. A whopping one-third of college students have anxiety, depression or another mental illness.

Of course, the roots of mental illnesses stem from too many to cover in a column; however, I can focus on one of them: relaxation. A balance is necessary between being productive and being relaxed, but why can’t we count being relaxed as productive? Try to balance the following: work, social and relaxation. This is the big mystery.

While socializing can be relaxing, I do believe being by yourself is a more productive way of relaxing (unless you are participating in solo activities in a group such as yoga). There is a certain peace associated with knowing how to be by yourself and make yourself happy.  We become more co-dependent in college because we have people around us all the time. Even at home, we have roommates (if you live in the dorms, you come home to someone living in your home space).

If you know how to be happy by yourself, you might as well be able to conquer the world too. Relaxing can include satisfying your cravings, watching that show you put on hold for two weeks, sitting outside and letting the sunshine warm your skin, taking that nap or even drawing in a coloring book. Your relaxation aesthetic is individual to you and puts your mind, body and soul back on track.

Take care of yourself. It is the best possible thing you can do for you! It leads to success, focus and overall, happiness. You take care of you and the rest will follow. We so often forget about taking care of ourselves that we let ourselves wither and dry away into the business of life. It’s one of the biggest mistakes we can make yet we make it all the time.

If you want to know more about mental health and relaxation, visit Learn Psychology: Surviving Stress and Anxiety in College and Beyond or visit the student success center.