“I oftentimes wish that I could silence my mind, just for a little while.  If I were able to do this, maybe then I could catch a break from myself and the self-critical thoughts that seem to gladly keep me company. When I am on my way to class, I find myself only being able to focus on how the fabric of my shirt is hugging my hips and how I can already feel the imprints that my tight jeans will leave on my waistline. As I am sitting, I think about how my skin feels warm; the kind of warm that makes me feel like I am melting from the inside out. In the shower, when my hands slide over my skin, I take notice of every single flaw. As I look in the mirror, I feel so hopeless as I know that this body of mine will stay with me for the rest of my life. Most days, my body feels heavy but my heart feels even heavier.”

I remember writing this in my phone notes not too long ago. To sum it all up, I have never been gentle with my body—I have long treated my body as if it isn’t deserving of love, respect, and nourishment. It hasn’t been until recently that I have paid any attention to this habit of mine. In fact, for my whole life, my mind and body have been at war. I have never really thought of the mind and body to be separate from one another, and I certainly have never questioned the abnormality that defines the awful way I used to see myself. It’s a pretty hard pill to swallow. Nevertheless, realizing that the mind and body were two separate entities—which wanted nothing more than to be in sync—has come to be my saving grace.

This summer, I made it my goal to be kinder to myself. To anyone ready, I advise you to do the same. My thinking is this: if I want the best for myself, it makes sense to also fuel my body and with nothing but the best, right? So, I started working out, eating nourishing foods, and getting on a regular sleep schedule. I found that as soon as I made these changes towards a healthier physical lifestyle, my mental health improved too. Instead of tearing myself apart, I began to shower myself with compliments that were truly well-deserved. I don’t look drastically different compared to two months ago or even a year ago, but it’s so crazy how differently I see myself in the mirror. My efforts started out small but now that the summer is over and the school year has started, I really feel a lot better in my own skin.

I’m not going to lie, getting into the swing of taking care of myself took time and patience. I learned that instead of relying on only tangible results to keep myself progressing, I should just trust myself and know that even the smallest of efforts are worthwhile. So, to tackle taking care of my mental health, I started to keep a journal this summer. In the beginning, I could not help but question the point of writing down my feelings. Was this really worth my time? A couple of weeks later, I was religiously writing down every interesting thought that crossed my mind. It became so therapeutic.

I also began setting aside time to engage in my passions. I absolutely love music. This may sound silly, but I set aside time every night before going to bed to just sit down and spend time scrolling through endless Spotify playlists and albums. It felt so good to do something really enjoyable without having to consider it procrastination. Another tip that I can offer is to follow body positive Instagram accounts. If we are going to be scrolling through Instagram, we might as well be scrolling past posts that will motivate and empower us! @healthyisthenewskinny is one of my favorites. Lastly, if you are into making lists (it’s a weird obsession of mine), I encourage you to make a running list of all of your curiosities, interests and random questions. In a weird way, having a list that is so uniquely “me” feels good.

Now that I am really passionate about self-care, I can say that the most exciting part is being able to push my limits and accept personal challenges. We as human beings are so powerful. It is truly exciting to see how strong our bodies can become and how enriched our minds can be. With this, it is extremely important to remember that patience is key. To anyone who can barely run a mile without feeling like you’re going to die, keep going. Keep going because in a few short weeks, you will crave the high that you will start to feel during a run. To anyone who is too embarrassed to go into the weight room at the gym and start experimenting with lifting, just do it. You’re only slighting yourself the opportunity to see yourself become stronger. To anyone who is struggling to make it through the day without a nap, make it a point to get to bed at a certain time and do not waiver. I encourage you all to set goals and make your efforts non-negotiable. When we prioritize ourselves, everything changes. Make it happen for yourself.

My relationship with myself is nowhere near perfect. I really do hope that one day I will learn to love myself unconditionally but until then, I am going to keep pushing myself.  The best advice that I can offer is to just get started and keep going.

COVER PHOTO: Pinterest

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