Engaging In Self-Care Has Changed My Life

Engaging In Self-Care Has Changed My Life

Self-care embodies more than the occasional face mask.

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There once was a time in my life when I believed in perfection. Whether it involved my grades, my personal friendships and relationships, or simply the way I was choosing to present myself to the world, I strove to maintain a certain sense of flawlessness in all aspects of my life. That was, of course, before I came to realize that these notions of perfection are unattainable. As life tends to move rapidly before our eyes, we often tend not to focus greatly on the changes occurring until we designate the time to reflect on them. Within these moments of reflection, it is natural to think that one may feel overwhelmed. Yet, the true resolution to overcoming this feeling lies within the ways that we choose to approach it.

After completing almost two years of college, I have come to realize that my personal experiences throughout this time period have played a significant role in shaping me into the person I am today. I remain grateful, as they have consisted mostly of moments of happiness and growth - though that is not to say that I have not faced hardships. In days of old when I was forced face to face with intense stress, there had been times when I simply did not know how to cope. Instead of acknowledging my sources of struggle, I would choose to be counterproductive and continue to push myself to my limits. It was not until my sophomore year that I realized I needed to make a change.

Over the past few months, I am proud to say that I have begun engaging in more self-care.

More often than not, the first thought that comes to mind when a college girl says "self-care" is an expensive face mask and a bottle of wine. Though I am in favor of both, my journey has helped me to understand that self-care embodies so much more than what is perceived. In essence, I now understand that it is acceptable to spend a day in bed if necessary - to decline an invitation for a night out and catch up on school work. It is acceptable to spend an hour at the gym to feel your best, or to indulge in cravings in moderation. It is acceptable to remove toxicity from your life, and it is acceptable to be forgiving of those who have hurt you so that you may heal. Most importantly, it is unapologetically acceptable to do whatever you believe will make you happy.

By adapting my behavior to acknowledge and fulfill these deeper standards of self-care, I say with ease that it has changed my life for the better. My disposition is softer and my heart is lighter - both things I may never have come to change if I had not decided to take better care of myself.

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Better Not Bitter

"Let your past make you better, not bitter."

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After completing my junior year at Iowa State, I have found myself reflecting on a lot of the experiences and people who have helped me get to the point I am at today. Family obviously comes to mind, followed by my friends, my sorority sisters, my boyfriend, my professors, and my mentors. I am able to contribute a lot of my success to their support and compassion that they have shown me throughout my past three years. I am also able to contribute my success to the woman I have grown to be and to the woman I have always wanted to be. You see, three years ago, the woman I was was buried in a toxic relationship that didn't allow me to flourish into the woman I was striving to be.

Let me take a step back, this article is not meant to bash the person who it is about. In fact, it's more of a thank you. Because you see, without him letting go of me, I would have never taken the leaps and bounds out of my comfort zone to become the woman I am so damn proud to be today. This is also not meant to say that I am I glad I was in such a toxic relationship, it was honestly so terrible that I wouldn't wish it upon anyone but I am in fact, thankful. I learned more from that relationship that I have in anything else in my life.

First, I learned to be a fighter, and not in a bad way. I learned to stand up for myself and what I believe in. I have become vocal about my passions and stand up for people when they are treated wrong. I no longer let people walk all over me, but rather I stand my ground firmly and confidently. Thank you.

Second, I learned to be fierce. Fierce in love, kindness, compassion, and willpower. I believe in my abilities and the things I am able to accomplish if I set my mind to something. I have learned that in being fierce, there is absolutely no time to doubt myself which has worked greatly in my favor. I learned that demanding respect in all relationships I have formed has been about me making the decision to make myself a priority and learning to never settle for any less than I deserve, ever again. Thank you.

Third, I learned compassion. I learned to be kind to the other woman, and mostly, to the person who chose to hurt me. It took everything in me to remain kind while I was being hurt, but I am so thankful that I stayed true to the values and morals I was raised on. I have carried this with me throughout the past three years by choosing to show compassion to all people around me, and looking deeper into the reasons behind the actions and decisions that people make. Often times there is something going on behind closed doors and because of that, it is important to always, always radiate kindness. Thank you.

I wanted to extend my gratitude to the person who hurt me because if you hadn't, I wouldn't be the badass, boss girl, powerful woman that I am today. I am confident, smart, loving, and fully capable of giving and receiving the kindest, most sincere kind of love. My life has changed for the better, and I wouldn't change a single thing. I wish you the best, because let me tell ya, it feels great.

By the way, if you ever feel like you deserve better than what you're receiving in a relationship, trust your gut & walk the hell away. It's worth it.

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11 Things You NEVER Say To A College Girl Trying To Get Into Shape

Just never talk about a person's weight.

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When my family and friends joked that I was going to gain 15 pounds in my freshman year of college as a result of the "Freshman 15," I thought it was what it was supposed to be: a joke. However, as the year has come to an end, I realized that I actually did put on a couple of pounds, albeit it wasn't the predicted 15.

As I told those that I wanted to get into an ideal shape for my body, I was met with some insensitive and ignorant remarks. Everyone thought that I mean just losing the weight I had put on.

1. "You walk to all of your classes, why aren't you losing weight that way?"

My legs are more toned than they ever have been before. However, most of the weight I have been gaining has gone directly to my gut (annoying!) and walking does not remedy that. Unfortunately, I have to stick to ab workouts.

2. "But you look fine to me!"

I don't feel healthy to myself. I'm not trying to stay in shape for anyone else, just myself, thanks. I appreciate you trying to make me feel better about my body image but I know something has to be done.

3. "I didn't gain any weight in college."

Good for you. I did. I'm trying to do something about it.

4. "Just stop drinking."

I don't drink. Really, the only liquid I consume is water or iced tea. I don't like soda and alcohol makes me nauseous way too easily.

5. "Isn't the gym free on campus for students?"

Yes, but some people don't like working out in front of others. I am one of those people. My friend lives in an apartment complex that has their own gym and almost no one is ever there but not everyone has that luxury. Also, some are busy and do not have time for a quick jog or to stretch.

6. "You should try this diet/pills/exercise routine."

I am thankful that you are trying to help but my diet is just eating healthy and having a few cheat days in between. I know what exercises work best for me and I am just not taking pills. Bodies adjust differently.

7. "Don't starve/force yourself to throw up."

Trust me, I know. I'm trying to lose the weight healthily. If you do find yourself practicing unhealthy eating habits or realizing your body image is deteriorating, the NEDA Hotline is (800) 931-2237. Please reach out if you are going through hardships.

8. "Won't you have to buy a whole new wardrobe?"

If I drop (or even add) a size or two. We grow out and grow tired of clothes on the regular, what's the difference if you have to buy some because of a weight change? Plus, who doesn't love buying new clothes?

9. "Just eat healthier."

Didn't think of it! Options are limited at college where the dining halls don't offer all that much that is actually good for your body. Now that I'm at home, it's easier. But I'm already trying to eat healthy.

10. "You've evened out since the last time I saw you!"

This is code for you've put on some weight. I hear it mostly from older relatives because my friends will flat out tell me if I've gotten a little chunky.

11. "You're just stressed."

Personally, this one gets me livid. I do admit that when I am stressed or anxious, I do turn to food for comfort but when I am delighted and genuinely happy, will my body magically revert into a fit state?

Sadly, no.

Honestly, I am just trying to get my body back into shape. For me, that means cutting back on greasy foods and kicking a bad habit of sitting on my butt all day. For others, it could mean more or less. As long as your body is in good physical condition and you are content, the number on the scale and others' thoughts shouldn't matter. Take care of yourself.

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