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

Last school year was unique, to say the least, and in my opinion, that is the kindest way to phrase it. I am seriously not trying to be a “negative Nelly” as my mom would say, but grappling with the lifestyle changes COVID-19 inflicted upon me was no easy task. I oftentimes found myself struggling to find a purpose in what I was doing each day. With no in-person events or classes, I know I let myself go physically and mentally. After all, with nowhere to go, why would I dress nicely? With no one physically seeing me, why would I care about going to the gym? Not to mention, online classes sounded absolutely grueling to me…and it turns out that they were! Needless to say, when COVID-19 became an issue in the world, my personal accountability became one too. 

Last May, I decided it was time to rebuild myself after hitting what felt like rock bottom. I needed to feel good about myself again for my own sake of confidence and well-being. To do so would mean enduring months of hard work and setbacks along the way. While I am still no life coach, I came out of this summer feeling refreshed physically and mentally. What a feeling!

Physical Health

First and foremost, focusing on my health catalyzed my growth this summer. I joined a local gym and typically worked out at least five days a week. I do tend to get sidetracked at the gym, so that is exactly why I deliberately set up a plan for myself to ensure I would make efficient use of my time. Most days, I would start by doing a 30-minute walk on the treadmill with a 10% incline, followed by a leg, ab or arm workout with weights. By the way, weight training makes ALL the difference. People always said that in high school, and I never believed them. However, I feel stronger and leaner ever since I started—Taylor Walsh has been proven wrong. Shoutout to all my high school gym junkie friends! One thing I learned is to always switch up my workouts too. I love to use Instagram, YouTube or TikTok to search for a new workout!

Just as important as fitness is nutrition, and this summer I centered my focus on eating mindfully. Finding a balanced diet has been a struggle for me in past years, and that is why I invested time into learning more about the foods I am eating. Some of my favorite finds from this summer include CELSIUS Fitness, Alani Nu protein shakes (I promise they don’t taste like earth, as I believe most protein shakes do), Banza chickpea pasta and avocado toast with honey on top! I could go on and on about food, but I will save my rant for another article! All in all, it is imperative to eat the foods you want to eat. These right here are a great start!

Mental Health

Life has its ups and downs, but a wise soul once told me “it is not what happens to you, but how you handle what happens to you that matters and truly defines who you are.” Rather than stressing about the unchangeable aspects of my life, this summer I shifted my focus to planning how I deal with stressful situations. Whenever I am overwhelmed, I like to journal what is going on. My new strategy is to list everything bothering me and then write out how to deal with those hiccups. For example, maybe I’m stressed about school. I’ll write out a plan of how I’ll handle my stress and how I’ll prevent any future stress. Genius, right? Totally kidding but kind of not. There is something about writing things down that makes everything much more manageable. By taking each situation step by step, I can slowly check each problem off my list. Let me tell you, once you have all of your situations checked off it is SO rewarding!

Another really helpful tool I’ve incorporated into my nightly routine is evaluating my emotions of the day. My best friend found this amazing emotion tracker app, EMMO. Each night, I choose which emotion I felt most consistently throughout the day and comment on why I felt that way. By viewing the emotion calendar at a month’s glance, it’s super helpful in identifying my emotional patterns and allows me to recognize if I need to reassess my daily routine. 

A few other things I’ve incorporated into my routine are reading more books and listening to more podcasts on topics I’m interested in and even topics I’m unfamiliar with. By doing this, I learn valuable information and subconsciously feel more confident in my intelligence. My favorite podcast at the moment is Just B with Bethenny. The entire show is about interviewing successful people and learning how they built their empires. The “Kelly Ripa” episode is a must listen! It may sound silly, but feeling knowledgeable about the latest career trends is just about the coolest feeling ever for me. It’s nerdy but true. When what I’ve learned along the way comes up in conversation later, I feel even more confident in knowing I spent my time doing something valuable. 

This last trick is my favorite. To put it into perspective, if you were to see my VSCO favorites or Instagram saved posts, you would know I am absolutely obsessed with quotes. I value other people’s wisdom so much, but I can never remember the exact wording of the quotes I love. I also conveniently forget all of the quotes I love when anything remotely upsetting happens to me. To help with this, I started a list of inspiring quotes to remind myself of whenever I’m feeling down. You would be surprised how a few words can change your entire perspective, so try it!

You got this!

Changing my routine in small ways like this has made a world of difference in my life. I see it in my day-to-day interactions, and it feels amazing. I always make sure to reward myself for my accomplishments no matter how small or large they may be, for, at the end of the day, life is a celebration! Celebrate the good today, and you will feel motivated to wake up and take on a new challenge tomorrow. 

I hope these ideas help you as much, if not more than they helped me!

Taylor Walsh

Virginia Tech '23

Hi everyone! I'm Taylor Walsh and I'm a Professional and Technical Writing major here at Tech. I'm from Bristow, Virginia--about 40 minutes south of D.C. In addition to writing, I love painting, traveling, and hanging out with friends and family!
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