Showing up for yourself is another way of practicing self-care—accepting yourself, supporting yourself, and loving yourself. With poor mental health at an all-time high, especially among students, it has never been more important to become your own best friend.
It’s time to break out of our “automatic pilot” setting and become more mindful, present, and grateful. By showing ourselves the care we deserve, we can nurture our brains, creativity, and energy, enhance our focus and awareness, and ultimately improve our physical and mental health. Showing up for yourself will also help you to focus on online studying during challenging times like a quarantine.
Here are a few ways you can start to show up for yourself and introduce more positivity and joy into your everyday life.
Establish a consistent morning routine
Never underestimate the importance of a regular morning ritual. Not only does it help you get out of bed, but it also kick-starts your brain, sets the tone for your day, and helps you to control your own schedule, rather than letting it control you.
Even if you don’t consider yourself an early riser, there are plenty of easy ways to energize your brain and body first thing in the morning. Weaving small, simple habits into your daily morning routine will do wonders for your productivity and help you to start each day with a clear mind and positive attitude.
Personal Mantra: MRI evidence suggests that certain neural pathways are strengthened when we practice uplifting self-affirmations on a regular basis. Pick one that makes you feel empowered, motivated, and positive, and start your day as you mean to go on. Check out some ideas here.
Gratitude Journal: Practicing gratitude, even for as little as five minutes a day, has been proven to help with sleep, reduce the risk of illness, and generally boost happiness among both children and adults. Simply wake up and jot down three to five things or people in life you’re grateful for. These can be as broad (the sunshine, music, friends) or as niche (Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, your cat’s left paw, the fifth series of Breaking Bad) as you like. Notice how much lighter and happier you feel after taking some time out to count your blessings.
Resist the temptation to check your phone: Can you spend the first hour of the day away from your screen? We spend so much of our lives looking down at our phones, so why not spend our mornings looking up. This will help you to appreciate the beauty in the everyday that so often goes unnoticed—the smell of freshly brewed coffee floating in from the kitchen, the chirpy chorus of the birds outside, the soothing silence that accompanies being the first one up.
Fuel your body and mind
It’s commonly known that what we eat has a huge impact on our physical health—as cliché as it sounds, your body really is your temple. Just like cars, our bodies require fuel to keep us going. But we don’t want just any fuel—we want the top-notch premium kind, and we need a very exact amount of it. In other words, if we eat too much “second-rate” food and not enough “premium” food, we can end up overweight, undernourished, and at risk of certain illnesses, such as coronary heart disease, and diabetes.
That said, increasingly more attention is being paid to the link between what we eat and its effect on our mental health and well-being. For example, a deficiency in B12 can lead to fatigue, depression, and poor memory, a lack of magnesium may lead to insomnia, and not consuming enough calcium has even been linked to an increase in premenstrual stress.
Obviously, we’re all unique, so different foods have different effects on different people. The key is to identify which foods work for you and help you feel your best. This can be quite tricky in today’s modern era, where many people aren’t mindful of their eating habits or feel like they don’t have the time to improve their diet.
Luckily, it can be pretty straightforward. One easy way to get the ball rolling is to start a food diary—see if you notice any patterns or links between what you eat and how you feel, and track whether you’re getting all your vitamins. Maybe you feel most nourished and energized when you’re eating tons of grains and nuts, or perhaps you struggle sleeping when you’ve eaten too much gluten.
Ensuring your body’s power tank is full of the right fuel is a surefire way to help you feel miles better on a daily basis, both physically and mentally.
Take some time out
Life doesn’t have to be a race against time—you don’t have to say yes to everything and you can’t be productive all the time. Your value doesn’t depend on how many things you cross off your to-do-list each day. It’s important to recognize this, and be able to take some time out of your daily routine just for yourself, without feeling guilty about it.
If you’re not used to this, first think about what brings you joy. There are plenty of things we feel like we need to do, but what do you actually want to do? Perhaps you enjoy meditation, reading, or baking, or maybe you get a thrill from dancing around to rock music or writing poetry. Try to carve out at least half an hour a day to focus on something you enjoy doing, and allow yourself to replenish your mind, body, and soul.
Showing up for yourself takes many different forms for different people, and it’s likely to change over time. It’s no walk in the park, especially when a lot of us are used to occupying every minute of our day, and therefore find it hard to anchor ourselves in the present. But trying is half the battle! Give one, two, or all of the above a go and see how showing up for yourself every day can transform your mindset, help you focus on your studies, and enable you to lead a happier, healthier, and more positive life.