No Pain, No Gain, Shut Up and (Relax)

| October 27, 2016 | 0 Comments

When it comes to inspirational messages, you usually think of athletically inspiring quotes. They come in the form of TV commercials, billboards, magazine ads, and your friends’ Snapchat stories. From Nike’s famous “Just do it” to catchy rhymes like “No pain, no gain, shut up and train,” we are constantly being pushed to work to get our bodies into shape. We live in a society where our appearances are valued to such a degree that sometimes we forget just how hard we have to push to do the everyday, necessary, mundane tasks that allow us to stay afloat—going to work, class, and internships while balancing grocery shopping, cooking, and much needed alone and social time.

photo credit: Arya Ziai July 10, 2013 at 04:07PM via photopin (license)

photo credit: Arya Ziai July 10, 2013 at 04:07PM via photopin (license)

This was a thought that popped into my mind as I mapped out my schedule for the coming semester. Five classes, one volunteer position, one part time job, and club involvement—it didn’t look so bad when I mapped it out on paper, but then I remembered that I had to do my homework. I remembered that I needed a social life. I remembered that I needed to sleep, eat, and clean. Before freaking out too much, I decided that what I should do was look up some inspirational quotes, post them around my apartment, so that no matter what I could keep myself going. I don’t feel bad for myself or about my schedule by any means, but it is often easy to do so when you begin getting left out of outings with your friends or struggle to keep up with class. Things can get overwhelming easily and you might want to cry or withdraw from a class and that’s okay, so long as you get back up and remind yourself why you work so hard.

It’s cliché to say, but mental and emotional strength are just as important as your physical strength. Oftentimes, though, mental and emotional strength get wrapped up into the vein of spiritual strength and I think that it is important to recognize them as two mutually exclusive entities. We put so much emphasis on feeding the body and the mind yet oftentimes forget to reward ourselves for the hard work we put in each and every day towards achieving a better tomorrow.

Whether it is your first year of college or your last, make sure you take time to reward yourself for your hard work so that you can hopefully reignite your energy and keep going. If you are having a hard time thinking of ways to regain that energy and relieve stress, here are some ideas:

  1. Find some favorite quotes, religious passages, etc. that really resonate with you and then write them on a sticky note and put them on the wall, your mirror, your desk, so that you will read it when you need it most.
  2. Make a list of why you are working so hard. Is it for your family? Is it for your future? Is it for financial security? Is it for personal validation? Writing down this list could help remind you why you do what you do and motivate you to jump back in.
  3. Make a list of short-term goals and long-term goals for the semester. This list will hopefully allow you to see the semester for what is coming up soon and what you want to make sure you’ve completed by the end. Whether it is read a book recreationally, finish that midterm paper, or grab at least one dinner with a friend off campus, you will have a comprehensive list to keep you organized.
  4. Along the same vein, make a “Hang Out Hit List.” This is something that I do at the beginning of each semester. I make a list of people I am going to make a serious effort at seeing. It’s so easy to tell people you want to hang out with them, but oftentimes there is no follow through and by the end of the semester you’ve spent four months with the same three people you always do, rather than building better friendships.
  5. Try out different tactics for organizing your life. Sometimes the way you have been doing things isn’t the best way to keep doing things. Switching it up between physical planners, online calendars, and phone apps can keep you on your toes and more organized.
  6. Switch up your study space. Personally, this is something I do every semester because after four months studying in the same place, I get too comfortable and can’t focus. Finding different areas on and off campus to study can help you maintain focus with greater ease.

When it comes to trying to relax specifically, it can often be difficult to find a balance. Here are some easy ways to incorporate a little mental break while doing your homework:

  1. Check off those little to-do items that you haven’t done yet—do your laundry, wash the dishes, call in and make that doctor appointment. These little things cause enough stress if they build up and are a great way to give your brain a break while still being efficient.
  2. Take a walk to the Boston Public Library or a cool café downtown, and bring your work! Rather than sitting on the BU Bus or grabbing an Uber, taking a walk will let you enjoy the city while on your way to continue doing some work and check some of those assignments off of your list.
  3. If you are having trouble understanding a concept for one of your classes, looking up tutorial YouTube videos can be extremely beneficial. Instead of reading, you get to watch and listen to examples. In addition, hearing a concept explained, especially in a different way, could help you to remember it better!
  4. Take a break to listen to some music, and maybe even dance! When you’re up late studying, your eyes start to get tired and before you know it you’re falling asleep. Turning on some music that pumps you up and moving around helps wake you up. Have a glass of cold water, too, and get back to it!

All in all, it’s important to reward yourself for the hard work you put in academically. Classes take up most of our time, and if we don’t remember to pat ourselves on the back, it’s easy to begin feeling helpless. So, try out a few of the above or maybe come up with your own!

photo credit: danielfoster437 Studying for an Exam via photopin (license)

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Category: Campus Culture, featured, Reflections

Kayla Nguyen

About the Author ()

Kayla is a Senior studying Biological Anthropology and Arabic. She is from a small town in Wisconsin--her inspiration for coming to Boston. When she's not writing blog articles, she enjoys cooking, watching movies with giant bowls of popcorn, and considering going to the gym.

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