A lot has happened since the year began – some good things and some bad – however, I think that I’ve learnt much more this year than I have compared to my high school years. I believe that moving to a new country, starting college, and living in a completely new place and environment can make you learn a lot more about yourself thank you’d think.
I’ve embarrassed myself A LOT
I’m a freshman in college, so naturally, I have tried my best to put myself out of my comfort zone in order to meet new people and socialise. In the process, however, I have made a lot (and I mean a lot) of childish mistakes. It’s not easy to move to a different country and start a new life. For me, when college began, I was already very confused about who I was as a person and living in a new place definitely did not serve me well.
I’ve made some really close friends
I’ve made some amazing memories in my first year of college and all of them involved some of my closest, truest friends. I have learnt so much from these guys and I’m truly so grateful for them.
I’ve learned to love myself
It took a lot for me to reach the place I am at right now. I chopped my hair off, cut off toxic friends, forgave a lot of people, got my heart broken, and eventually began to focus on myself and my needs before anyone else’s. Thinking about what I wanted and valuing my needs was a big step in pointing me towards the direction of self love.
I’ve realised the importance of mental health
I started therapy this year and I also started seeing a psychiatrist. I learnt a lot about different kinds of medication, the importance of opening up and talking about your problems, and doing little things to take care of yourself and make you feel better.
With so much going on in the world right now, it’s important to take care of yourself and be kind to yourself. However, it’s also essential that we don’t use this time as an excuse to “take it easy”. This is the perfect time to build long-lasting habits that can possibly change the way we live our lives. Use this time to work on yourself, work on your hobbies, and really “glow up” and become the best version of yourself.
Here are some things I’ve found have been really helping me take care of myself during the lockdown:
Drinking 2-3 litres of water everyday: Now this might seem like a lot, but trust me, drinking tons of water has been such a game-changer for me. I also drink warm lemon water first thing after waking up in the morning.
Reading some good books: This is by far the best way to spend your time if you’re bored. I’ve been finishing books faster than ever and I feel so happy about finally having the opportunity to read all the books that I’ve always wanted to read. If you don’t know where to start you should check out Zoella’s Book Club on her blog – she recommends some of the best books I’ve ever read and I’m so excited to finish all the books on her list. Some of my favourites are : One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. Mcmanus, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, and the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling (of course).
Sleeping for 8-9 hours: Some of us are doing a bad job by sleeping for either 4 hours or 14 hours per night. Being disciplined about your sleeping schedule is so important. It’s okay if we sleep in, or stay up all night on the weekends. But during the weekdays, maintaining a sleep schedule is essential and will save you so much time and stress.
Home workouts: Working out is so important during this time. Something that made the idea of working out every day easier for me was thinking of the mental benefits of working out, rather than exercising to look a certain way. I started viewing working out as something that makes me feel better, happier, and calmer. Exercise and movement is a good thing and your body and mind will thank you so much for it.
Work on your hobbies: It could be cooking, painting, singing, playing an instrument, writing, dancing, reading – this is such a great time to do whatever it is that you love and enjoy. Personally, I’ve been reading, cooking, and baking and it’s been helping me keep myself busy.
April was a great month. I made some new (online) friends, stuck to a morning routine/ workout plan, and did a lot of self care things. I have a feeling that May is going to be even better. It’s Mental Health Awareness month! I’m being brave and setting some goals for myself for this month. Since we’re all self-quarantining, this is the perfect time for us to build some long lasting habits and really focus on ourselves. Let’s dive in!
Read 2-3 books this month: One of my new year’s resolutions was to read 1 book per month, but since I have so much extra time right now, I’m confident that I can squeeze in at least 3 books this month. I really want to read: Dune by Frank Herbert, Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig, and The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, this month.
Establish a morning routine: I currently wake up around 7:30-8:00am, check my phone (sadly, but I find it so hard to break this habit), drink warm lemon water, make myself some coffee, and read my book. I want to try being more productive by trying to write a little for my blog after I read and also trying to reduce my screen-time in the morning.
Workout every other day: Working out makes me feel so so good. I played a lot of sports during my adolescent years and I believe that’s the sole reason why I emerged out of High School as a sane, normal teenager (sort of). Exercising to feel better, rather than to achieve a certain body type, is how I motivate myself to get in some movement during the day.
Reduce meat and dairy intake: I’m so proud of myself for already being more conscious about what I put in my body. Last month, I reduced my dairy and meat intake and it did wonders for my body. My skin cleared up, I felt energetic, I was able to focus better, and I also just felt more content in general. It’s a great feeling and and even greater thing to do. My parents are also supportive of this decision of mine (not the case previously) and it makes things much more easy for me.
Approximately 0.5 to 1 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 30 have anorexia, and 1 to 3 percent of college-age women have bulimia. In addition to these clinically recognized conditions, there is a virtual epidemic of “subclinical” eating disorders among American women, many of whom do not meet the strict criteria for anorexia or bulimia – such as bingeing, purging, and fasting, or abusing laxatives, diet pills, and diuretics – to keep their weight under control.
There has been a great deal of speculation about just what other factors – besides a cultural emphasis on thinness and the difficulty women have losing pounds – prompt some women to develop eating disorders while others manage to avoid them. One factor is occupational: eating disorders are common in women whose livelihood depends on thinness or appearance – for example, dancers, models, actresses, gymnasts, figure skaters, long distance runners, and jockeys.
Eating disorders can last a lifetime for some people. The thoughts, patterns, and habits that were developed during the disorder are hard to get over and a lot of individuals who are “weight restored” can still struggle with the same mentality that was present during the ED.
I have been very open about how I’ve struggled with an eating disorder since 4 years. It started out with me restricting food because I wanted to lose weight and feel better, but soon I became obsessed with my results and began to starve myself. I lost a lot of weight in a very short amount of time and, soon enough, my health began to deteriorate. I lost my period for three years, my hair started falling out, I was tired all the time, I was isolating myself.
My obsession with food and exercise lasted for about 2 years. I started recovery with the help of my golf coach, family, friends, and doctors. What I needed was a massive amount of support from the people closest to me and I was lucky enough to have friends who really cared about me and helped me with the recovery process. I also went to a nutritionist, which I believe was the best thing I could have done, who helped me throughout the weight gain process.
Since the last year, however, I am at a very uncertain place with regards to how I feel about my body and myself. I know I’m not the only one though, I know so many girls, around my age, who struggle with the same thoughts and patterns and have even partaken in some type of disordered eating. I feel especially upset about how social media portrays women and how we are forced to believe, since a very young age, that there is only one body type that is beautiful. Girls are made to feel like they aren’t good enough or “worth it”, just because they aren’t a size 0.
It’s so upsetting to see how girls as young as 9 are dieting and starving themselves because they want to be “pretty”. This is the kind of mindset I had for a very long time and I strongly believe that social media played a very strong role in shaping the way I thought of myself in such a negative light. It is so wrong to believe that being “pretty” comes in only one size and shape. I know countless girls who are so confident and happy with themselves and how they look even if they aren’t a size 0. It takes a lot to be truly happy with they way you look in our society today, especially when we are constantly told that we can’t love ourselves if we don’t look a certain way.
We are so much more than what we look in the mirror. Instead of striving to be skinny for the wrong reasons, we should pay more attention to keeping our bodies and minds healthy by staying balanced and doing the best we can. This means focusing on not only eating healthy and nutritious food, but also meditating, reading a book, and exercising to FEEL GOOD, rather than tiring yourself every day to look a certain way.
Carlson, Karen J et al. The Harvard Guide To Women’s Health. Harvard University Press, 1996.
Last year was things started to get particularly bad for me. When college started I felt helpless and alone. I was in a completely new place where I didn’t know anyone, I missed home, missed my friends – the last place I wanted to be was in a new environment that was so different from what I was used to.
Depression is different for everyone. Deep down I knew I wasn’t as happy as I used to be but I ignored how I was feeling – thinking that it will get better over time. But it only got worse. As the weeks continued, I started to feel miserable. It was the worst kind of pain I’ve ever felt.
If you know me, you know that I’m a positive person. I want to make people happy and feel good about themselves. However, things started to change and I started to feel bitterness towards the people who wanted the best for me. I stopped feeling like myself. I stopped recognising myself when I looked at pictures and in the mirror. It was as if I was looking at a meaner, evil version of myself. I didn’t have any interest in doing things I used to love. My feelings of hopelessness were constant and over time I started to normalise the sadness I felt.
My psychiatrist diagnosed me with chronic depression and prescribed me medication. I had always been someone who was against taking medication but as things got worse knew it was something I had to try.
It’s been almost 2 months since I started taking antidepressants and I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. I’m starting to enjoy doing things and activities that I stopped liking. Some mornings, I feel excited about the day ahead of me. This is a big change from the person I was a few months ago – someone who would struggle to get out of bed and start the day, someone who would avoid meeting her closest friends, someone who would push people away, someone who would forget to call her loved ones for weeks.
The best thing that I did for myself was to go and get help. I started going to therapy and eventually went to a psychiatrist. I know depression is something that a lot of us struggle with. Some depressive episodes last for a few days but sometimes they can last for weeks and even months. Talking about how you feel with a friend, family member, or a professional is essential and can really shift your mindset.
Maybe it’s the sagittarius in me, maybe it’s because I love the concept of not seeing someone for a really long time only to see them a few months later, absolutely KILLING it. I mean, it’s happened to me so many times, I’ve seen people from my school disappear for a couple months and then I see them suddenly, and they’re a completely new person. They’ve got different hair, they’re not into the same music anymore, they’re doing good at school. It’s like the person’s got a complete makeover – they’re a better version now and they know it, cause they worked for it.
There’s just something about taking time for yourself and doing things that make you feel good. I always tell myself that change is good and that the process of change makes you grow into a better, more mature version of yourself. The time that you invest in taking care of yourself, being kind to yourself really shows and people all around you see it too. During the holidays I would get so much time to really do things I liked doing. Waking up without an alarm, going for morning runs, spending time with my best friends, and reading good books. I spent time doing happy things and I would always come back to school feeling refreshed and ready to get back to work.
Just doing tiny things like drinking green tea, stretching in the morning, meditating, and spending time with the people you love makes a whole lot of difference. I stopped hanging out with the wrong crowd – with people who made me feel tired and really anxious all the time. I stopped giving my time and energy to people who weren’t putting in the same amount of effort that I was putting into the relationship.
When you start to value your own opinion and care less about what others perceive of you, life becomes easier. I started to put my needs over other people’s needs, make goals for myself and take small steps throughout the week to achieve them.
Social media also plays such a huge role in our lives nowadays. It is no surprise that social media has definitely changed the way we think, what we wear, what we eat, and where we choose to spend our time. Influencers on Instagram constantly tell us that we should be wearing clothes from a certain brand, that we should be travelling to different places, that we should be spending a lot of money on things that will “make” us happy, that there is something wrong with the way we look and that there is only one way to be beautiful.
So many teenagers struggle with mental health problems and disorders because we are forced to believe that there is only one way we can be happy. Taking time off social media can improve the way we view and think about ourselves. There is so much time to do things like reading good books, exploring new places, spending time with your family, and doing schoolwork. Everything becomes so simple and you realise that being that ideal version of yourself wasn’t really that hard all along. With time, the small changes that you make start to turn into habits and after a while you don’t have to think twice about following your daily routine.
Doing little things that make you happy throughout the day actually start to make a big difference in your overall mood. I made this list today because I’ve been going through a few rough weeks, recently, and I haven’t really been taking care of myself, or doing anything to make myself feel better or happy. So here goes, a few things you could do today, or in the coming days to feel better and more positive about yourself and just life in general 🙂
Read a book
Go to a café and order your favourite coffee
Watch a movie
Go to the beach
Go for a hike
Listen to good music
Listen to a podcast
Clean your room
Donate your clothes
Drink loads of water
Make healthier choices
Call your parents and ask them about their day
Call your best friends
Paint your nails
Get a tattoo (sorry mom)
Change your hairstyle
Change your wardrobe
Disappear and get shit done (one of my personal faves)
Play a sport
Take time off social media (instagram SUCKS)
Take a nap
Get rid of the extra stuff in your room
Go for a walk
Take 3 deep breaths
Spend time outside
Go for a picnic (I miss doing this so much! @namsy we gotta do this when I’m back home)
Drink green tea
Wake up early
Take care of your skin (follow a skincare routine)