A recent conversation that I had with another blogger got me thinking about how willing people are to put their work, education, etc. before their own physical and mental health. I’m just as guilty of this but I make an effort nowadays to keep this to a minimum because the body and mind I have are the only ones I’m going to get. If I’m not even a safe place to be…where can I go?
“If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm.” – African proverb
This take care of yourself quote goes both ways; one must brave themselves before they can take on the world. Are you willing to make time for yourself? For me, this answer used to be a resounding “no.” I’d rather drown myself in anything at all other than my lingering pain from being bullied, insecurity around strangers, and fear of incompetence. And, honestly, I ended up with nothing at all. My GPA fell into the 2.0 range that year, I couldn’t sleep for fear of more nightmares, I had no real friends, and I hated myself.
Now I’m not saying that your lives are going to spiral out of control and you’re going to hit rock bottom if you don’t make time for yourselves like me; I was an extreme case. The point is that I don’t want you lovelies to start making baby steps down that path because, once you realize where you are, it’s already too late. Most people think that we throw our lives away in the blink of an eye but, the truth is, it happens gradually… so gradually that you won’t even notice it if you’re not paying attention to yourself.
Luckily, it isn’t too hard to prevent digging your own hole. Ideally, we’re already making time for multiple things in our lives…education, work, family, and fun. Just remember that you belong on that list too.
That midterm tomorrow that you didn’t even start studying for? Go to sleep. Seriously. In psychology, it’s a well-known fact that sleep is necessary to strengthen memories so, chances are, anything you cram into your short-term memory now will be gone come morning. Better yet, avoid having to decide between sleeping and studying and start reading up for 15 minutes every day as soon as you know when the test is.
Don’t feel right inside even though your life seems to be going fine? Reach out. Someone out there will listen to you. I used to be notorious for never voicing my problems and concerns to others for fear that they’d use the knowledge against me someday or just not care. Honestly, very few people are that cruel. And if all the people in your life are that terrible, you shouldn’t even be spending time with them in the first place. You deserve better!
Feel like you have so many problems to handle that you don’t know even where to start? Don’t. Take 10 minutes before you go on your homework/project binge and do something relaxing that makes you happy. I’ve found that going into something overwhelming with positive emotions makes it go much smoother instead of toiling away with an already stressed-out mind.
Don’t forget to take breaks and walk around during and after your marathon session! It may be tempting to try to finish what you’re doing in one sitting but, I’ve found, that sitting in any one place for longer than 40 minutes is plain unbearable first of all. Also, I end up doing the work slower and slower until my brain is functioning at a crawl and my hands are ready to fall off which ends up wasting more time than if I just got up from my desk and soaked in the real world every now and then. (The next room is never quite so wondrous as when you’re using it to escape a labor-intensive project.)
This next piece of advice is going to be slightly unrelated to productivity and such, but it’s an important thing to consider nonetheless. Keep your self-talk positive. Use positive affirmations. When you flub up on something, what do you call yourself? Idiot? Klutz? Or do you accept that you’re not perfect and take a moment to laugh? Note: There’s an important difference between self-deprecation and laughing at yourself. The reason I say this is that, like digging yourself a hole, self-deprecation can gradually escalate into self-hate, as well, if you let it get out of hand. A good rule of thumb? Talk about yourself like you’re talking to a seven year old. It may feel silly but this is one of the main methods that I rely on to stay clean.
You shouldn’t become a barrier to yourself. Be your own bridge instead. You can always cut down on activities that don’t affect you but, once you cut down on yourself, there’s nothing left. There’ll be plenty of people and problems in the world that’ll try to bring you down without you giving them a hand, so stop helping them out and take care of yourself. I’ll admit it isn’t glamorous admitting that I didn’t do X because I was napping for two hours, but feeling like I can function again trumps any validation I’d get from ignoring my needs. It’s okay to be selfish when it comes down to your health and needs; nobody else is going to advocate for you after all.
What do you lovelies think? Are you willing to make time for yourself if you aren’t already? If you are spending time on yourself, what do you do and how does it benefit you? Let me know in the comments below!