By Maya Frankel

I am so overwhelmed these days. School is a whirlwind of assignments, projects and exams. And I can’t be the only one who feels extremely stressed out.

Lately, I’ve been staying up super late doing work, until two days ago when I took a night for myself. I ordered sweet potato fries from Trident Booksellers and Cafe and watched two movies. I felt a little guilty because I knew there was work I could do, but I needed that night for my own mental health.

I woke up the next morning with a sense of calm I haven’t felt in a while since my brain is always overthinking or figuring out how to get everything done.

I put a pause on running for the past two months. Partially because I haven’t had much time, but also because I’ve been lacking motivation. I finally found my motivation again — last week, actually.

I realized the only way to reach my goals and release this unnecessary stress is to run — to run until every ounce of worry leaves my body. Running is truly the only exercise that releases my stress, irritation and worries.

I think it’s because I use every ounce of energy in my body to exert myself forward to reach my imaginary finish line when I run. It’s the motion of using all your strength to push your body ahead and leave your worries behind you as your feet and your mind continue moving forward.

My endurance has never been great. But little by little, I am pushing myself to be someone who looks forward to running because it makes me feel powerful. Even when I have to drag myself to the gym, I feel a sense of accomplishment and proudness, which I don’t feel often (I am my own worst critic).

I am in no way a professional runner at all, but I run because it makes me feel happy. What’s a goal for me might be a goal you achieved years ago, and that’s OK.

Yesterday, I showed up at the gym for my appointment at 11:00 a.m., only to be turned away because my reservation didn’t go through.

At that moment, I could have given up on moving my body and just sat in my apartment on my phone, doing nothing, but something inside me told me to go outside and run.

I put in my AirPods, grabbed my house keys and ran one mile on the esplanade. Continuously running a mile is huge for me because I normally take walking breaks due to my horrible endurance. I felt a sense of accomplishment, and I returned to my apartment happier than when I left it.

My goal is to wake up every morning and smile. My goal is to love myself every day. My goal is to feel motivated and determined rather than stressed and overwhelmed. Stressing about little things is not productive (I am slowly learning to apply this into my own life). Go on a run — that is productive.

Find what works for you, whether it be running, watching a movie, ordering sweet potato fries or listening to music while staring at the ceiling. Each of these is equally as important because they are all part of self-care and putting yourself first, which I struggle with.

Just be happy. College is so stressful and the workload is crazy, but we should also be enjoying ourselves. Finding a balance with every aspect of your life is a goal all of us should have.

Running is my release, what’s yours?