A Self-Health Guide: Being Busy While Staying Well
Health has alway been a big part of the value system that I was raised in. My mother has always been all about healthy living and healthy eating, especially by natural means. She's really the one in my family who has always kept everyone in check as far as eating their vegetables, washing hands, getting enough sleep, etc. But obviously as I got older, a lot of these healthy habits started to slip away, especially when a busy schedule came into play. For the last couple years, or I could probably even say as far as the beginning of my college career, I've been letting my health and wellness slip. I still have my sweet mom always reminding me to be healthy, but eventually as I became more independent I started forgetting her reminders. This has been pretty detrimental to say the least. From dental problems, skincare issues and back pains, I've kind of gone full circle with a lot of the typical un-healthy symptoms. And honestly I think only this past summer did it really hit me how unhealthy I was being and how it's not only affecting me physically but also mentally.
Like I said, the main reason that I've let my physical and mental health slip was due to a rapid speed increase in my schedule. Starting sophomore year, I became about 5 times as busy as I have been the year before, and have ever been before. This was a sudden change, but surprisingly it's what my body was craving because I was dealing with grief and heartbreak and a whole bunch of related trauma. So, as a coping mechanism my body and mind went into overdrive, and I got shit done. Which was good. But the bad thing was that I started neglecting my health and worst of all--I let it build up. I figured, well, as long as I'm doing work that I love and killing it at all my extracurriculars, academics etc, surely my overall well-being will be fine as well? Right? Wrong. This realization came in a couple much-too-late wake-up calls, which included an anxiety episode where I passed out (one of the scariest moments of my life), had a migraine that left me crippled and sick, along with other panic attacks, extreme back/neck pains and other miscellaneous pains that starting popping up. These all started to look like red flags to me. So I knew I had to do something. I started changing up my habits already last summer with meditation, eating breakfast (yep, one of my problems is that I just don't eat breakfast), going to bed early, etc.
Also around this time I got a lot of ideas and inspiration from lifestyle bloggers/Instagramers. I was always super intimidated by following any kind of health bloggers because I always worried it would feel like they were preaching things to me that I need to do, but can't possibly afford or have time to do. However, last summer I came across the blog Lee From America and her Instagram. She had super amazing advice that I still carry on with now, including hair therapy, sleeping tips and a ton of easy to do recipes. Reading her blog honestly helped push me a little bit forward, so I would highly suggest to check her out and other pages like hers. Even just listening to her daily posts reminds me of the healthy habits I'm trying to keep up with.
That was this past summer. I thought I was on a good track and felt like I was keeping a good health routine. Now I'm halfway through the first semester of my senior year, and it's gotten bad again. I've been bad to myself, and my body is showing me red flags again. I would argue maybe worse than before. Suddenly now I'm having extra back pains and a extra neck pains constantly and as I've written in a past post of mine, I've had a couple horrific migraines that have never been as bad. So now I'm actively working on not only incorporating healthy habits throughout my day but also going to the doctor for some of these issues. I have a wellness check scheduled for December and I honestly can't wait, because it's been so long since I've had an overall wellness check up. It just scares me how as young people we become so neglectful of our own health. We push it under the rug because we don't think it's important enough, or we don't have the time or whatever else. I've been there and I'm still there now. I'm still struggling to make my health a priority, and that's a problem. That's a sentence I shouldn't be writing. Or anyone should be thinking. Health is a priority, and also health shouldn't be scary or a privilege.
Obviously there's a lot left that I have to do as far as going to doctors, getting prescriptions and doing more research. But in the last week I've made a couple promises to commit to small habits that make big differences in my daily routines. And I'm really trying to commit this time, because it's literally the least I can do for my own body. And as I'm writing out this list I'm starting to realize that a lot of these health habits are basically the same reminders that my mother raised me with. So it seems like something definitely stuck, so I'm not planning on letting her lessons slip away from me again. So yeah, listen to some of my tips. And listen to your mother.
small habits | big difference:
1. Water | Oh my god WHO KNEW! No but really, I'm telling you. Listen. Water next to your nightstand, water in your backpack, water at your desk at work. Always have that H20 ready so you have no excuse not to drink it. This is the simplest habit that makes a world of difference. My new healthy habit goal with water is to drink at least 3 full glasses in the morning. One of the problems I have is feeling drowsy and having a heavy head when I wake up (whether it's early or not) and water always helps, Just gulp it down.
2. Going to bed | I was going to add go to bed "early", but I realize everyone has different views on what "early" is, so I understand that everyone has a different circadium rythym in them based on what they do for a job, what their needs and health issues are. I get it. But for me, at least, I've learned that if I go to bed past midnight and I have to get up at 7, that's not going to end well. And overall, especially with the winter starting it's so important to have a healthy sleep schedule for your immune system to stay on point.
3. Essential oils/Aromatherapy | I've ranted about these enough on my blog so I'll spare you and just say; use them. My favorite scents are Eucalyptus and Lavender
4. Breakfast (or: Something in the Morning) | Again, wow, who knew. I'm the worst at getting up early sometimes (okay, all the time), so my promise to myself is to have at least something in the morning. A bowl of cereal, yogurt, oatmeal--basically any meal that is low maintenance and will put something in my stomach and will hold my off until lunch. You don't have to expect yourself to make a french omelette every morning. Just
5. Meditations/Stretching | I used to think that I was terrible at mediation and it kind of discouraged me. I wasn't able to keep up with the meditation apps and I still had trouble getting into that perfect "zen" state. But don't ever let this stop you from taking time to be mindful. You don't have to be perfect at it, barely anyone is. Meditation can be whatever lets you escape. For me, I started doing nightly stretching because my back and neck are in the worst state they've ever been in. Eventually this turned into a little routine where I stretched, lit some of my favorite scented candles and listened to a spottily playlist. And I felt so much better. I even got a little essential oils diffuser that I'm going to use while meditating now. I realized that doing it the way I wanted to do it ended up having the best results. Also, even if you don't have back problems, stretching every day is so invigorating and will automatically make you feel better and more in touch with your body.
6. Take a Vitamin | I really underestimated how important this is. My mother used to literally shove fish oil down my throat every morning as a child and it was AWFUL, but I wouldn't be surprised if I avoided countless illnesses because of it (I actually do have a better immune system when it comes to cold season). Since it's getting colder, especially if you're in the Midwest like me where the sun literally disappears for 4+ months, get that vitamin D. I also have a multivitamin that is specifically for female heath (which I take int he form of a gummy because I'm 6 years old). I also went to this women's health workshop lately and the woman made a good point saying that as college students/young people, none of us eat right. Like, a good majority. We don't have the time and we don't have the money. So that's why it's so important to take vitamins in order to get those nutrients.
But yeah, don't knock the vitamins. Do some research and find what's best for you. But some vitamin C and D is definitely something that will help overall wellness so DO IT.
7. Tea! | I'll probably still remain a die-hard coffee drinker for a while, just because I've grown to love the taste and it often gives me the boost I need. But i'm also going to try and replace it with tea as much as I can especially on the days where I'm feeling extra anxious. Coffee has definitely affected my anxiety in bad ways in the past, and I have to stop ignoring that. Tea also just helps me stay calmer and works as a good source of herbal energy when I'm feeling tense and need to de-stress before bed. I've already been trying to drink it for a couple days straight and I can already tell a difference.
I hate using the word failure to be so hard on myself, but in all honestly, when you're not taking care of yourself, you are failing yourself in a way. And it's important to see the failures towards yourself in equal severity as the failures towards other people/things. Self-care, whether it's health related or whatever, is so important and the worst thing you can do is ignore it. But I also want to acknowledge that it can be difficult to to keep a healthy lifestyle and that's okay. Nobody is going to be perfect, even the healthiest individuals. And that's why it's important to understand when you haven't been doing as good of a job at taking care of yourself, and then proceed to take the steps you need to take to get better.