In High School, I had one of the biggest realizations. I came to understand that I had no idea how to take care of myself. No, I’m not talking about taking myself to the doctor if I have a cold or remembering to take my medications in the morning. I’m talking about spiritual and mental health.
I find it so funny, in school we learned quadratic formulas, read lots of Shakespeare, and could even hold conversations in other languages, but no one seemed to understand the necessity of teaching us how to love and care for ourselves.
I woke up most mornings feeling like shit and not wanting to do anything because I was unhappy. While I struggle with depression and anxiety, this was a completely separate issue. This was about my thoughts and how much criticism I inflicted on myself.
As a teen one of the biggest factors in self-perception is the media. The media is constantly feeding us unattainable/ unrealistic garbage in the form of photoshopped clothing ads or “tips and tricks on how to skinnier, prettier, more muscular, etc, etc”. What it’s not advertising very much is how to love who you are or how to maintain happiness in times of grief or trouble.
Once I came to this realization it opened my mind up to a completely new idea of how important my happiness is. So I did lots and lots of research, but came to realize that without practice, any research is completely useless. I’ve come up with a few practices and ideas that help me relax, unwind, and settle into a happier place.
- Slow Down.
This is probably one of the most important things you can do for your body and mind. For a long time I found myself going and going, constantly making plans with people for fear of “missing out”. When I started having nights in with a book, or a movie, or even just some music and my notebook, I could focus so much more and was generally much calmer. While there’s nothing wrong with going out with friends, think about the reason you’re doing it. Don’t see it as some sort of obligation. You don’t owe anyone anything. You are the most important person in your life.
I know this sounds so cliche, but it has been one of the BIGGEST ways for me to establish spiritual and physical well-being. Meditation is by far one of the greatest practices, and in my opinion the most important. It allows you to separate yourself from the world around you, not just people.
While I know this may not work for everyone, yoga is one of my favorite things to do. I’ve found a great yoga studio in East Village called, Yoga to the People. However, you don’t need to go to a studio to do yoga. Theres plenty of videos online that teach you and its fairly easy to get the basics down. If I’m doing yoga at home (which is not often because I live in a dorm with two other people and we don’t exactly have a plethora of space), I like to combine it with my meditation. It’s an extremely relaxing experience and afterword it literally feels like you got a full body massage and took a great nap.
4) Talk to your friends and family.
I can’t stress the importance of having a support system. My friends and family are the most important people in my life. They’re the people I call when I get a bad grade, embarrassed myself in front of someone I like, or I’m just feeling down. I have learned to love who I am by surrounding myself with people who desire or have achieved that goal.
5) Find something that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning.
Put your motive and drive into passions not specific people. It doesn’t have to be a commitment to something for the rest of your life. One day it could be poetry, the next it could be martial arts. Not being committed to one single hobby or cause is 100% okay! But finding something that brings you joy or literally just gives you the motivation to roll out of bed in the morning is the most important thing you can do for yourself.
These are five very simple things I try to incorporate into my daily life. Is every day perfect? Absolutely not. Do I do all of these things every day? Nope! Sometimes life does get in the way, but it is very important to be mindful of those times as well.
Lots of love,