It took me a long time to appreciate the beauty of the lazy day. Simply lying back, watching Netflix, taking a nice warm bath, spending time in nature, just doing what makes you happy without wondering whether or not you’re being productive enough.
Days like those used to give me immense amounts of guilt. I’d wonder if I did enough beforehand to truly warrant not doing anything “productive” for a whole day. It felt like my work was all-consuming and somehow more important than my happiness and peace of mind. Days felt very frenzied and I felt as if I was on the road to academic burnout because I was constantly guilting myself out of spending time away from school work.
Soon, I began to recognize a problem. I was no longer doing work in school with the intent to learn. School was simply a place where I did assignments, and I began to hate the environment because it felt toxic. Now, it’s important to remember that only some of this can be attributed to my mindset. There are so many things about the school system and college admission systems that force a certain unhealthy hyper-competitiveness amongst their students and are simply inherently toxic, but that’s a different conversation for a different day.
I started recognizing that something about me had to change if I intended on preserving my mental health. The first step, I decided, was to stop basing my personal worth on the grades I received. That was certainly easier said than done, but once I began opening myself up and realizing that there are so many other facets to me apart from my grades, I stopped falling into that toxic, hyperproductive mindset and started trying to spend my free time doing things I love, rather than worry about whether I’m working enough.
This even changed my outlook toward learning and school. When I was constantly thinking about my academic performance, I held lots of ill will toward school because I felt it was the reason I could never relax. Altering my mindset and attempting to distance myself from a reliance on academic validation and allowing myself to kick back once in a while really made me see school as a place to explore new subjects and learn new things.
Naturally, this process is far from linear. Just last month I got a score on a biology test that I didn’t love, and I fell right back into the pattern of guilting myself out of relaxing and forcing myself to constantly study. It’s also much easier said than done, but hopefully my journey can help someone out there embrace those lazy days a little bit more and worry about school a little less.
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