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Mental Health

Prioritize Yourself — Your Body and Soul Need It

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Prioritizing myself and my mental health has never been number one on my list. I don’t always listen to my body and give it what it needs. Sometimes this can be as simple as going to bed early and other times it can be as hard as cancelling plans with someone I was supposed to hang out with. Not listening to the needs of my body has taken a huge toll on my mental and physical health.

About six months ago, some drastic changes happened within my family when I was home for the summer. I fell into one of the darkest places I had ever been in and I knew that I needed to make some changes. Some days the very best I could do was just get out of bed. I was fighting so many internal battles while putting a smile on my face and remaining strong. I knew that I needed to make the choice to try feel better. Don’t get me wrong — this was not an easy conclusion to come to. It took a lot of self-reflection and talking to my therapist to know how to make these changes.

I want to share the changes I have made in hopes that someone reading this can feel encouraged to do the same if they need to.

Get out of bed at a reasonable time

When I’m having a rough day, it’s easy to stay in bed all day. However, the thoughts that are keeping you in bed will only get worse if you stay there. It is best to get up and change your clothes, even if you just change into another pair of sweatpants. Make yourself a cup of tea and open the windows.

read a book

I hate to be cheesy, but reading has genuinely changed my life. Books are an escape from any dark thoughts I may have and they are also an escape into a different and sometimes more favorable reality. Plus, it gives me something else to do rather than sitting on my phone and scrolling through Instagram. And also, please don’t compare your reality to someone else’s highlight reel. That’s exactly what it is… a highlight reel. You don’t see the battles that they might be fighting internally.

exercise

Now don’t worry, this does not have to be some intense 2 hour workout! Exercise can be as simple as going for a walk in your neighborhood or doing yoga for 10 minutes. “Exercise” or “working out” can sound intimidating, but moving you body in whatever way you are comfortable with makes the biggest difference when you follow through with it. Setting this goal for yourself can get you up out of bed and breathing fresh air. Your body needs these things to thrive!

Dont overbook your schedule and listen to your body

This one is the hardest for me because I am such a people pleaser. I never want to say no to anyone, which has led to me to overbooking my schedule and not doing important tasks like schoolwork. This in turn has led to struggling to maintain the best grades and has increased thoughts of self-doubt. I felt like I was drowning, and my body was exhausted. I have slowly learned to listen to my body and sleep when it needs rest.

surround yourself with positive, fulfilling people

I realized that hanging out with certain people felt like a chore that I had to do just so they did not get mad at me. I recommend that you do an inventory of the people in your life. Who are you happy to see? Who adds fulfillment to your life? Who can you talk to about your feelings and have intellectual conversations with? Healing your soul means making yourself happy, and if some people don’t contribute to that then they do not need to be in your life.

These five simple-sounding tasks can feel like climbing a mountain. There are some days that are filled with tears and heartache, but the days that are filled with smiles and love make it worth it. There are still days I question myself, but I know in the long run the changes I have made will be well worth it.

Know that even if your biggest achievement is simply getting out of bed, that is something to celebrate. Keep celebrating the little accomplishments in life and keep finding things that make you believe in yourself and your healing. Surround yourself with people that support your growth and challenge you to get better. Remember that the smallest steps forward are still contributing to your growth as a person. There is so much waiting for you out there. Be gentle with yourself.  

Hi! My name is Gillian Carter. I am from Monument, Colorado (meaning I love the mountains). I am attending the University of Utah to study Recreational Therapy in hope of going to PT school after I finish my bachelors degree. I love doing anything outdoors, reading, getting coffee, and being with my friends and family! I have always had a love for writing so I hope you guys enjoy :)
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