Opinion editorial

This RAK week, be kind to yourself

In the midst of a stressful semester, remember to take care of yourself — and reach out if you need help

What’s the most common sense of humor at MIT? Well, once we get past bad puns and math jokes, we wager the humor is mostly of the self-deprecating variety. We constantly put ourselves down, usually couching it in self-deprecating jokes — “it’s called a trash can, not a trash cannot.”

We understand, and even occasionally engage in, this gallows-type humor. Let’s be honest, sometimes it seems to help. But ultimately, the language we use about ourselves has an impact on our well-being. There are only so many times you can call yourself garbage as a joke before you start to suspect that it’s true.

We have a A Comprehensive Guide to Crying on Campus on our Admissions blogs. While there’s nothing wrong with crying, and expressing emotion is healthy, the fact that this post needed to be written and was so relatable to MIT students is alarming.

In the 2017 Student Quality of Life survey, 55 percent of respondents said that often or very often they felt overwhelmed by the amount of work they had to do. 83 percent reported that managing their workloads was very or moderately stressful. 59 percent reported that the expectation to perform as well as their peers was very or moderately stressful. With such high expectations and heavy workloads, it can be easy for students to feel that what may seem to them a Herculean task is just a breezy puzzle for the adequate MIT scholar.

In such a high-stress environment, we need to do what we can to make life better for ourselves. While we can’t make that pset any easier, that essay any less daunting, or personal problems any less crushing, we can and we need to be kind to ourselves.

It can be difficult to stop and reflect on a job well done when you are rushing from pset to pset, exam to exam, simply trying to keep your head above water. And perhaps MIT has desensitized us to the extraordinary and made us more sensitive to our shortcomings.

When was the last time you allowed yourself to rejoice over a completed pset before starting on another? Or stopped between classes to take a breath and drink some sips of water? Or treated yourself to more than just a meal and good night’s sleep, basic human needs, after finishing a hell week? This Random Acts of Kindness week — and every other week of the semester — we encourage you to take a minute (or more!) and bask in some glow that isn’t just the fire of unending stress.

If you feel overwhelmed, or you are finding it too difficult to do these things, we urge you to reach out to support resources such as S^3 and MIT Mental Health, or if you prefer, people like your academic or UROP advisors, GRTs, or friends.

Finally, we encourage everyone to remember to take care of yourselves — not only to eat and sleep, but to seek whatever peace of mind you can find. Forgive your shortcomings and celebrate your successes, however small. After all, you are neither a trash can nor a trash cannot — you are a human.