As I’ve often written before, I’m a known workaholic.
It’s something that I’ve carried with me since I was young. I was always striving to be the best in school. When I was old enough I got one after school job, and then two. As I went through high school, I joined more and more clubs.
Looking back now, it’s easy to see my constant need to be involved in high school stemmed from the terrible home life I had with my father and stepmother, but nonetheless it set me up with habits that were tough to break.These habits continued in college, and if possible, grew worse. I tried to manage being highly involved on campus like a typical college student with participating in resume builders and furthering myself in my future career with trying to be financially independent by working several jobs when not in class.
To top it all off, academics were still my primary focus, meaning I spent hours and hours at night studying, pouring over my assignments and trying to be a good student.
I’ve written before on how my constant stressing and working ultimately led me to break down my junior year, completely changing my perspective and forcing me to take a step back and relax once in awhile.
It’s been a little over a year since I graduated college and entered the full-time workforce, and though I tried to relax more my senior year of college, I’ve come to a stark realization: it is nearly impossible for college kids to relax.
There’s no denying the stresses of being a full-time student. There has been study after study showing teens today are more stressed out than adults and more stressed than teens from previous time periods. This constant barrage of stress is terrible for mental health. More students today are suffering from depression and anxiety as well. Some studies say one in four students today is suffering from a diagnosable illness.
Of course, these were all things that I had read about before or knew just from being a stressed out student with anxiety and depression, but I didn’t fully understand how bad the situation was until I started working full-time.
Over the past year I’ve made some changes in my life that I had never been able to do before. I’ve started reading consistently (at least 20 minutes a day) and working out consistently. I take the time to journal for my mental health. I go to community events, or play board games after dinner with my husband or take my dogs to the park.
These were all things I rarely had time for in college. Between trying to be a good student, working to afford my bills, trying to have some sort of social life and finding opportunities to practice my writing, I wasn’t taking the time to take care of myself.
This is so incredibly common among high school and college students, and something needs to be done. Despite the millennial generation being stereotypically labeled as a bunch of whiny, lazy, snowflakes who just want things handed to us, I think what we truly want is the ability to be successful without developing serious physical and health problems to do so.
My hope is that more people realize this over time and take the steps to help future generations so they are in better positions than we are. I also hope students understand the behaviors you develop in high school and college are not healthy. Don’t continue them while in school if you can help it, and definitely learn to take better care of yourself. You’re all you’ve got.