Take some time for yourself

Posted on Monday, Jun 15, 2015

For me, traveling to Washington D.C. for the summer was my chance to explore a large city for a prolonged period of time. I had to see everything I could, because a part of me knew that two and a half months was going to go by much further than I expected. And at first, everything was going great. I was constantly moving, either going out with friends or learning what I could at my internship.

And then, about two weeks in, a day came when it suddenly was too much. I was sitting with my roommates, and while I wasn’t angry at any of them, I just didn’t want to be around them. I didn’t want to be around anybody. I was feeling overwhelmed, like I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I went into my room and just sat on my bed. I feared that listening to music or watching a video would just add to the pressure in my head, so I sat quietly, listening to the sound of the air conditioning and the muffled conversations in the next room.

And then, on its own, the anxiety began to decrease. After about half an hour, while I wasn’t feeling one hundred percent, I was able to rejoin my roommates. And later, when they wanted to go out, I stayed behind and felt rejuvenated by the next morning.

Here’s what my mistake was. In all my rush to see and do as much as I could, I forgot to set aside time for myself. Living in an unfamiliar place with new people is overwhelming, even if you don’t feel it right away. You have to adjust to your space, and part of that includes realizing that while there is time to be doing something, there is also time for doing nothing.

I let it go too far because I wasn’t aware of myself. So pay attention. If you start to feel a bit anxious or have a swing of emotion where you suddenly go from social to completely antisocial, it’s probably time to think about stepping back for a bit.

Watch a movie or visit a monument on your own. Take a stroll around the block if the weather’s nice. D.C. has some fantastic green spots. I know that walking among trees, just watching people pass, relaxes me, so that’s what I can do to relieve stress. You know what your own stress relievers are, whether it’s going to a sports event or binge watching Netflix.

I’m not saying you should spend all of your time in the apartment. Get out there and take advantage of this opportunity. But remember that there’s time to see the city, so don’t think it’s going to go by in a second. If you don’t allow yourself time to recharge and take personal time, your time in D.C. might not be as enjoyable as you want it.

Make the most of your time, including time for you. How will you balance the time?

Jennifer Reiley
Hearst Newspapers
Washington, D.C. - Summer 2015

Tags: advice, PPIP, relaxation, stress, tips, Washington