Daily practices of self-care are extremely important, but often swept to the wayside when schoolwork and stress come to the forefront. Daily practices are the activities that set one’s soul on fire and serve to foster personal happiness and empowerment. In other words, they are activities that provide energy and enjoyment to an individual.

It is difficult to deny that it is important to spend time on things such as getting enough sleep, eating properly and participating in activities that one enjoys. The problem comes in when homework is piling up, there is a party to go to on Friday night, a test in a tough class next week and anxiety, wondering when everything will get done. I suggest that during these hectic times, it is essential to utilize daily practices rather than cutting them out completely. It may seem counterintuitive to spend time relaxing when there is so much work to be done, but it will help one’s productivity and happiness overall.

These few days when classes are first starting are an optimal time to begin incorporating self-care daily practices into your schedule. All students are adjusting to new schedules in terms of class times, practice times and down time; why not add time for daily practices as well? Mine include singing, journaling, sleeping at least seven hours and resting throughout the day. Devoting just a bit of time to these activities allows me to clear my head and be better prepared for the rest of my day, especially if I need extra energy for class or studying.

Let this school year be a time for learning and rejuvenation. I argue that learning can be most productive if the student is in a clear and bright frame of mind. Through the repetitive motions of daily practice, concentration and skill are built.

These daily practices are a way to build mindfulness into our daily lives. By paying attention to one’s own needs and what suits an individual in terms of likes and dislikes, a greater insight is gained about how that person functions. From this, an understanding of how one feels at any given moment, based on what activity is occurring, can be gained. This information is useful in interpersonal encounters, communication with ourselves and others and how we manage our time and lives. For example, if I am a person who wakes up at 4:30 a.m. for crew practice, there is an implicit knowledge that I am going to be tired by 4:30 p.m. after a day of classes and homework. I know that when I am tired, my mood is less positive open; therefore, I should take a nap before seeing friends for dinner. In this situation, should I follow that initiative, the experience that I have with my friends has the opportunity to be more positive and fun, based on the fact that I am well-rested.

It goes without saying that taking a break from schoolwork or other activities that keep one busy can be difficult. If I am in “the zone” during a reading period, I hardly want to be torn out of it. But if that time will then be dedicated to a daily practice that makes me feel more happy and rejuvenated, then it is worth it. I would much rather spend five minutes in the morning singing than have a poor day based on a negative attitude.