Letters from the Editor: Rest and relaxation

The problem with being up at 3 a.m. and feeling productive is that I know I’m not supposed to be productive at this hour. I’m supposed to be resting. Self-loathing creeps into my head, asking questions like, why am I trying to do work at 3 a.m. when no one can respond to me until hours later? Why can’t I just wake up and be productive starting at 9 a.m. like a normal person? What’s the point if I end up doing the same things tomorrow and the next day and the day after?

What I’ve learned (perhaps not as soon as I should have, but certainly with enough time to start helping myself) is that the doubting little voice in my brain only goes away when I respond with sheer apathy and I need to have breaks for things that don’t involve my work and school schedule.

I was playing a video game about a week ago when a friend of mine hopped onto chat and started talking to me. In somewhat of a clarifying moment, I realized it had been months since I’d picked up the game, or any game really, and spent my time doing something I enjoy instead of just trying to power through my senior year at the university. I’d previously been spending all day on campus, followed by all night working on projects, with no time in between to speak to anyone or do anything.

What’s amazing though, is how long it took me to think of doing anything else with my time. It seems simple enough to just try doing something different to break up the monotony and revive my fried synapses, but that isn’t what I was thinking about. I was stuck in a looping cycle where I get up feeling sluggish, go to school, go to work, go home, work on assignments, work on work, try to sleep, fail, and repeat the whole thing over again. I didn’t even consider picking up a game or taking a walk, I just kept going.

I think, in times of stress or under tremendous workloads, I tend to put on my blinders and push forward, an “I will work harder” refrain clouding everything else in my head. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I’ve seen students who’ve fallen asleep in front of library shelves and students who have cups of coffee lined up execution style starting with breakfast blend and ending with a red eye. I once watched a unblinking student put ibuprofen into the bottom of a thermos and fill that thermos with drip coffee.

Insomnia’s an ugly creature—my ugly creature—but it doesn’t look so different from term papers or student loans or electric bills or thesis projects. Whatever creature you claim, my only advice is not to let the fight with it overcome everything else, or you’ll just end up burnt out and miserable. Find what time you can for yourself because the obligations may not go away, but they will certainly be more manageable if you can look at and address them instead of blindly plowing through.

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