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Learning How to be Kind to Yourself

In 2018 we have people speaking to us from all different platforms about mental health and self-care. From our peers to our politicians, our parents to our professors, we are hearing more and more about how important it is to take care of ourselves. And as college students, we are in a constant state of self-evaluation thanks to social media and the never-ending comparison game.

Personally, I get caught between two ideas that have been engrained in me from a young age concerning how I treat myself. The first, is to be kind to yourself when things get hard. The second, to “get up and feed the dog.” And though you may assume there is a correct option here, I would argue that it’s more important to know when you need to go easy on yourself, and when it’s time to put your head down and get back to work.

The saying “get up and feed the dog” is one I’ve learned recently, but the idea has always been present in my mind. The saying comes from my Grandmother, who, along with my Grandfather, raised 5 kids (my dad is the second) that are top-to-bottom only 7 years apart. As you can imagine, there were some disagreements in the house, and when one of the kids got their feelings hurt and was pouting or feeling bad for themselves, she would say “you may still be sad, but somebody still has to get up and feed the dog.” This was her way of saying things may not always go your way, but at some point you must move on, and keep going with your life. This is applicable to everyone because, as we all know, life is going to knock you down but at some point you are going to have to get back up and resume your responsibilities.

The other side of this is knowing how to treat yourself when things don’t go your way. Whether it be your ex S/O has a new bae, or not getting the interview for the job you wanted, you don’t have to make hard situations harder on yourself by not giving yourself time to grieve. Like I said before, life is going to knock you down at some point, and if you find yourself disappointed, be kind to yourself and do something you know will make you happy. When I have a bad day, I get myself a coffee and give myself an hour to watch my favorite TV show. I know this will make me feel better, or at least distract me until it’s time to get back to work. You do not need to punish yourself, or make hard days harder by doing chores or homework that is going to upset you even further. Do yourself a favor, and pay attention to the things that make you happy, so that when you have a bad day, you can go do those things!

The trick to this is knowing when it’s time to stop treating yourself, and when it’s time to get back to work. Self-care is so much more than face masks and bubble baths, and I encourage you to get to know yourself more by learning when you need to be kind to yourself or, as my Grandmother would say, when you need to get up and feed the dog.

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