It’s Okay to Treat Yourself


Life can move so fast sometimes that people forget to relax or do something nice for themselves. I think it’s important to realize that yes working is important, but it’s also important to give your body a chance to relax.

When I work continuously and when I finally get a chance to do nothing, I feel guilty. I always feel like I have to do something productive 24/7, especially during the semester. There’s just always so much work to get done that when it is done it feels wrong to just do nothing. It’s like there’s this lingering feeling of having to keep busy or else I’m lazy.

Exactly a year ago, I had taken the semester off to focus on my mental health. I was constantly working at my job and in school that I felt so overwhelmed and anxious constantly. It became so much to the point that I became unmotivated and depressed. I knew that I just needed to take a step back and take a breather from everything. I knew the only right thing to do for myself was to take the fall semester off.

I was very nervous to tell my parents because they’re immigrants from Guatemala. I feel like immigrants have an insane work ethic where they just don’t take breaks. My parents constantly work, so for them to hear that, I didn’t want to attend the fall semester because I needed a break for my mental health.

I thought they would’ve called me lazy and ungrateful. But, to my surprise, they were very understanding. They know how much effort I put into school and how much I worked during the height of the pandemic.

When the fall came, I started a new job, and I just didn’t like it. My last job didn’t treat me the correct way, and it seemed like this job was going in that direction, so I quit. For the first time in a long time, I was unemployed and not attending school.

I didn’t feel like a loser because I knew I was going back to school again in the spring, but I just felt like I was doing nothing with my life. I was already thinking of applying somewhere else, but to my surprise, my mom told me not to apply and just enjoy my time to relax. I complied, and I began to do nothing.

I would wake up whenever I wanted and do whatever I wanted throughout the day. It felt so nice to just relax and not have to worry about handing in assignments, attending classes, or a job. I picked up painting again, drawing and watched so many shows and movies. It doesn’t sound like much, but to me, it was everything. My mental health was getting better, and my anxiety was less and less.

Yet, there was this lingering feeling of “I’m wasting my life away doing nothing. I should be applying to jobs and be in school.” I thought at least once a day. I would try to get it out of my head by distracting myself but it always came back. I didn’t let these thoughts get to me, I saw the progress I was doing, and I was proud of myself.

When I went back to school for the spring semester, I was so focused. I wanted to prove to myself and my parents that I didn’t take this break because I’m lazy, but because I needed it. My head was finally in the right space.

I ended up killing it that semester. I didn’t feel bad taking breaks because I knew that I was working as hard as I could and that I deserve some time to myself.

I always take that with me, and I tell my friends. Sometimes, even now, I hear a voice in my head telling me to do something productive when I’m relaxing but I know that I’m not lazy for wanting to watch Netflix after doing homework or a long day in classes.

It’s important to do things for yourself that make you relax and in which you enjoy doing. Don’t let the work consume you because all that is not so good for your mental health. Your body tells you that, and it will take a break whether you want to or not.