Looking after yourself is SO important!
But what does this really mean?
Annoyingly, we can’t rely on someone else to do our homework or take our exams for us… equally we can’t rely on others to look after our emotional and mental health being either!
We are responsible for us. If we choose to stay up all night messaging on our mobile phones and have to get up for school early in the morning, we can’t blame our mates for ‘making us’ message them back – it was actually our choice. In the same way if we are struggling, we can’t rely on someone else to wave their ‘magic wand of wellbeing’ to make life seem easier and more manageable.
As hard as it might be to hear: you are responsible for you. You’re not responsible for your friend, even though you care about them greatly; and they aren’t responsible for you.
When it comes to looking after ourselves, there are 5 dimensions of our own care we need to consider...
This includes our diet, sleep, dental care, sexual health and physical wellbeing. It might mean making sure you sleep more or eat better, or visit the doctors when you've got a problem (instead of ignoring it and hoping it will go away).
What does being physically well mean to you? How can you practise more self-care for this body of yours that is the vessel in which your whole life is held (because you really can’t do much without it!)
What beliefs do you hold? Are they in any tension with how you live out your live and faith? If so, does that cause you any difficulty?
How do you nourish your soul? How is your spiritual life challenged, changed, guided?
Where do you best connect with God? Is God quietly prompting you to find a bit more space and time for Him? Is He asking something more of you?
It’s not just about school and homework! Outside of what you are studying, what makes your brain work hard? How are you encouraging your personal growth? What about the people you hang out with – are they all the same as you or are you finding friends from new cultures and countries in order to expand your horizons?
Have you got a good network of people you can talk to when you're having a bad day? Can you trust them to hold your personal stuff without blabbing it around? Whether you are an introvert or extrovert; having one person you can trust is WAY BETTER than knowing hundreds of people who aren't really your friends.
Do you keep track of your emotions or do bad days always take you by surprise?
Many of us don’t make enough time for a daily ‘check in’ with ourselves to see how we are. We probably text our family or BFF to see how they are, but do we ask the same question of our self?
Before you even get out of bed, scale your emotions – 1 being horrendously low and 10 being the best feeling ever! This is your marker for the day – if it’s low then it won’t take much for you to feel lower. But what actions can you take to make it higher (remember it’s no one else’s responsibility but yours!) Looking at the list above – go through each one and consider a couple of things you can do make a bad day slightly better.
Try the same before you fall asleep – reflect on your day and be thankful for all the good things that happen (no matter how small they were). It is proven that an attitude of gratitude really does improve mental wellbeing!
Try these too...
- Writing a journal
- Drawing your feelings
- Sing your favourite song lyrics loudly
- Write a letter to yourself about what you plan to change in the next term
- Tell someone how you are really…not just the standard ‘fine’
- Give yourself a retreat day – ask you friend to join you