Student working out in McComas Gym

A student working out in McComas Gym, Feb. 14 2019

Ah yes, it’s that wonderful time of the year when students begin to leave the seasonal depression phase and take in the fact that the months of unbearably cold weather are — maybe — coming to a quick end. It almost seems as if it should be a stress-free period for college students, until you remember that with spring comes the ginormous stigma that surrounds college spring break.

Spring break is supposed to be a time where students can ease out of the stress that school brings and spend a week with their friends doing whatever they deem best to forget about all of the academic chaos. The irony is that spring break itself seems to bring a whole new level of stress for students.

The question comes down to why students feel this intense urge to impress others and push themselves in a way they wouldn’t normally. The answer is that with spring break comes an overwhelming awareness of body image. According to an article written by Student Health Services at Georgetown University, 74 percent of female college students who are at normal weight are reported to be unhappy with their appearance. Around the time of spring break this percentage maxes out.

“There’s always someone who looks better, and you can’t stop thinking about how you should’ve done more or worked harder, and that guilt sucks,” said senior graphic design major Ryn Everett. “You also think everyone cares about how you look, when in reality, it’s only you who cares.”

It’s true — this social media age has led us to become obsessed with comparing ourselves to our peers on social media. It has  also allowed us to care about our body image at a unhealthy rate, which leads us to make unhealthy choices. With that, there are a few things each and every college student should keep in mind while preparing for the infamous week.

Know your limits

People see that super-fit Instagram model and want to squeeze into that bikini the same way she does. This then persuades people to get into ridiculous workout routines that their body is in no way fit to do.

A positive mindset is key when getting into a workout flow. Set personal goals that are achievable, not overbearing. One can’t expect to be able to push oneself in the same ways that those GymShark promoters do, or have Alexis Ren results in two weeks.

Realistically, it’s a gradual process and the best results come with time. Find a routine that works for you and set goals for yourself, not goals to please others.

Healthy dieting

With spring break preparation comes extreme dieting. Around this time, you’ll see people suddenly counting calories, cutting back on meals, and forcing salads down. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the obsession that comes with it can be.

Watching what you eat and obsessing over it are two very different things. There are mentally healthy ways to go about watching what you eat, and binge starvation is never the answer.

The technology age has given us the opportunity to have access to an array of information at our fingertips. Various cooking apps and websites have sprung up over the years that offer many easy recipes. The filtering functions on the apps and websites allow people to specify certain dietary requests.

Eating healthy can be fun as long as you are preparing the right foods that you’ll still be able to enjoy. A certain thought process comes along with changing one's eating habits. The main thing to keep in mind is that one unhealthy meal won’t make you any fatter, just like one healthy meal won’t make you any skinnier.

Limit the comparison

The spring break stress comes from this desire to compare, something that many people fall guilty of. We’ve all heard the statement that everyone’s body is beautiful in its own way. As cliche as that is, it’s true. It truly is unfair to compare yourself to someone different.

Social media platforms are a place where people display the best images of themselves. Only seeing other people’s best selves should never be something that diminishes your own thoughts of yourself.

Limiting the comparison will influence positive habits when preparing for spring break, and it will limit the toxic habits that people tend to fall into.

Many people could agree that college spring break has gone down as having some of the most memorable experiences of their college career. With that being said, it’s important to keep your mind in the right direction and prepare for the infamous week in the healthiest ways possible for yourself.

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