College x

Consider your physical and mental health before overloading your schedule with after school activities.

A lack of extracurriculars can free up your schedule (Image via Siena College)

I’m sure that we’ve all met someone with a billion extracurricular activities—or maybe you were that kid. Heck, you might still be that kid. Having extracurriculars is great, but not having them can be fun, too. Trust me, I know because I grew up having very few extracurricular activities (like really few); I had an eleven-year gap in my already short athletic career.

I played sports twice in my life: in kindergarten and junior year of high school. In addition to my inactive sports life, I have also been a member of only two clubs throughout my entire life. During high school I was in anime club and in my first two years of college I was in the poetry club. Although I may have had a pretty empty schedule, I in turn had full physical and mental health along with a ton of free time to practice my creative writing and was even published over ten times before graduating high school. Contrary to what teachers may tell you, the absence of extracurriculars can be an advantage for the following five reasons.

1. Plenty of Time for Self-Care

I’ve known people who have no time for their health because they have AP class after AP class, sport after sport and rehearsal after rehearsal. These students were often the most tired and stressed out people I’d ever met. Their willingness to take on so many commitments at once boggled my mind. Why don’t you love yourselves, people at my high school?

Questions aside, these high schoolers had so many things on their to-do lists that they became too tired to exercise or take time to pack even remotely healthy lunches. Sometimes they skipped showering the night before so that they could get to bed earlier. Their tiredness affected every part of their lives. Straight up, I’d ask these busy bees how they were doing, and many times I would hear “tired,” and I’ll bet you can guess why. My classmates had hardly any time for their health, and I’d imagine that their obligations may have also affected their personal lives.

2. Nothing Gets in the Way of Nurturing Relationships

If you have an open schedule, then you have time not just for yourself, but also for others. You’ll always be able to hang out with your buddies if you don’t have consistent weekend plans. Also, if your friends need to talk, you’ll be available to listen; It’s not like you’ll be away from your phone. In addition to having stronger relationships with your friends, availability can also increase the bond between family members.

Having little to no obligations outside of school also helps your family life. I’ve enjoyed a wonderfully close relationship with both my parents because I had plenty of time for them. I never had anything going on after school, so I was never late for dinner. Also, since I was always home, Mom, Dad and I could talk whenever we felt like it. The lack of tension with the folks was yet another thing that allowed me to keep my peace.

3. All the Chill Time!

Just because you put some time aside to go chillin’ like a villain doesn’t mean you stop killin’ it. We all need to relax! It’s healthy, perfectly natural and, of course, relieves stress. Stress takes an alarming toll on all aspects of health. Mayo Clinic states that being under too much pressure causes physical, mental and behavioral ailments.

Although not having extracurriculars can free up time, you don’t have to completely part with them (Image via Hummingbird)

Among the physical ailments listed were headaches, chest and muscle pain, fatigue and a decreased libido. That last one is the worst, because it means that stress causes you to be stiff in all the wrong places. Who wants that? Also, who wants anxiety, depression and an increased risk for substance abuse? No one. The way I saw it in high school––and still see things in college––if the price of my sanity and down time is not playing any sports or participating in any clubs, then sanity and down time is cheap. As if relaxation and inner peace aren’t enough, free time can also be used for productivity.

4. You Can Practice Your Passions

You can spend hours and hours doing what you love if you don’t have sports or extra classes in the way. Since I didn’t have any pesky practices or rehearsals standing in the way of what mattered to me, I had plenty of time to write stories and poems. Not only did I have time to write, but I also had time to submit my work and get ten poems published on various websites and print sources. Who says you need after-school activities on your resume? Publications look good on your job application too, and they’re not your only options in the area of enhancing your resume.

5. You Can Create Your Own Extracurriculars

I know that this sounds contradictory, but we can’t just relax all the time. We need a few accomplishments here and there to beef up our resumes. If you’re not on any teams, then you can do things outside of school, like community service or paid work. No one’s in charge of your schedule until you give someone the authority to be. Better yet, you can make your own schedule with freelancing and other remote work.

These are just a few of the many benefits that come with an open schedule. In no way am I trying to tell everyone to quit their clubs and sports. If you still love all of your after school activities, by all means, keep doing them. However, you don’t have to have extracurriculars for the sake of having extracurriculars. If you’re not particularly fond of one of your activities, it’s okay to quit, and it’s okay not to have any. As long as you stay productive, balance your well-being with school and work and cherish the people around you, you’ll be fine.

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