An Oath To Make Every Day A 'Treat Yo' Self' Day

An Oath To Make Every Day A 'Treat Yo' Self' Day

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health is #period.

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It's easy to get caught up in the midst of things. To go through life every day just rushing and pushing to move onto the next thing and the next thing and the next.

With it being school season and with fall rolling in, it's easy to just want to move onto the next day, never focusing on what's going on in front of you.

The weather gets colder, the nights get darker, the days get shorter, and that's all we seem to feel. It's important to remind yourself that it's OK to take a deep breath and step back. It's important to take care of yourself and to give yourself extra love sometimes.

A lot of people focus on making sure everyone else around them is getting enough care and maintaining a healthy life, but for some reason, it's always difficult to do that to ourselves.

That's the selfless act of it all.

I am a firm believer in self-care and self-help days. Days where we wake up in the morning and feel so blah with our self that we just need a day to take time to regroup and reenergize. I grew up in such a comforting environment to know that it is OK to take time for yourself.

There are so many different forms of self-care and I think people always look at self-care as taking a bath or taking a nap, which is totally valid. But there's so much more to that.

Self-care is taking care of your body and rejuvenating it and making sure it has all the energy it can have again. It's not just about your mental health, but self-care is also about your physical health by eating good foods and getting a good amount of sleep.

Take a long, hot shower, cook yourself a healthy home-cooked meal, do the face mask, turn on all the soft toned lights you can find, and burn all the candles possible and indulge yourself in silence and early sleep.

We are constantly in a rush and going and going that we don't really realize when enough is enough. And that's OK! Work and school and maintaining a routine is important, there's a purpose to what you're doing and a drive to your actions.

But it's so important to listen to your body and listen to it when it's telling you to halt and take care of yourself.

A lot of times you find yourself stuck in school or at work. Superiors above you and professors don't always understand what you're going through and how detrimental a buildup of stress can be. You have to take time for you.

At the end of the day, you're in control of your own actions and own disciplines. You have to dip into your mental health and listen to your own body when you can't take certain things anymore.

Self-care is important.

Taking care of your body physically and mentally and the ultimate successor. Only you are in control of that.

Find the ways that your body builds off of mental health.

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13.1 Vital Tips To Complete A Half-Marathon Without Training (And Without Dying)

I spent a lot of time Googling, 'How Not To Kill Yourself Running A Half-Marathon You Didn't Train For'.
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Last weekend I completed a Half-Marathon that I didn’t train for at all. On top of that, I hadn’t run in about a year and have never completed a distance over 8 miles

That sounds insane, right?

Well, yes and no.

A few weeks before the race, I spent a good chunk of time in and out of the emergency room— mostly due to a complication from a spinal tap. During that time, my couch had become my best friend.

As someone who is fairly active and social: I hated every minute of it.

I was so sick that I couldn’t think. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t do anything other than lay on the couch and watch Netflix.

When I was finally well enough to start walking around again— I started thinking about my life and my bucket list:

So much of life is taken for granted. It’s been a life goal of mine for the longest time to complete a half-marathon, and I’ve always assumed that I would be able to train for it when I finally graduate. When I have more time— I'd do it then.

But that's not an assumption anyone should make. Tomorrow isn't promised. Your health isn't promised.

Right now, I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m young, and I know how to listen to my body. I’ve run for a few years in the past, and I have pretty good technique. So, what’s stopping me? Why not do it now?

I realized that the only real obstacle in my way was myself and my excuses.

So, I hopped online and registered for the Brewer’s Mini Marathon— a process that was both filled with excitement for the feat to come, and apprehension over whether or not this decision was going to retroactively kill me.

To ease that newfound anxiety, a lot of my free-time was spent researching how not to kill yourself while running a Half-Marathon you didn’t train for— which gave me a ton of knowledge to draw from when race day came. Knowledge was the only weapon to help me through.

If you’re thinking about following my lead, I’ve shared some tips to help you along:

1. If You Aren’t Young, Or In Great Shape— Don’t Follow My Example.

If you have any existing issues with your knees, lungs, or heart: Do NOT do what I did.

Not training can lead to serious injuries, all of which are not remotely worth the risk. If you’re adamant to do it: Focus on walking it. It sounds unimpressive— but walking this race is actually pretty difficult. Not everyone is able to complete it.

However, if you are in the best shape of your life and have a history of running (or some other vigorous, aerobic activity): Go for it— but be cautious.

2. Don’t Set A Time Goal

Unless you've trained, you have no reason to have a time goal. Your only goal is finishing the course. That's it.

3. Pace Yourself

My first 3 miles were easy-peasy. So easy, in fact, that I beat my PR for the last 5K I ran— and I wasn’t even trying.

When I hit mile 5, I was still going pretty strong. However, I think if I had walked more, in the beginning, I wouldn’t have crashed so hard at mile 10. Take it from me: Don’t run until you feel like stopping.

Set intervals, and take it easy.

4. Don’t Forget Your Music

This tip is pretty much up to your own discretion. The first half of my race was incredible without music— but when I started crashing near the end, a power anthem would have helped so much. Make sure you have that with you.

5. Eat Intelligently The Week Before (And Day Of)

Make sure you’re getting a lot of your calories from complex carbs, and that you’re drinking about 2-3L of water per day in the week leading up to it. Basically, this will make sure that your body runs as efficiently as possible during the race— especially since it will likely take you well over 2 hours to finish.

On top of that: Eat a large breakfast or lunch the day before, and make sure that your dinner is light (if it’s a morning race). The morning of, be smart about what you eat. This guide was incredibly helpful for me.

6. Bring nutrition with you!

I didn’t consume mine at the recommended intervals, which is likely a big part of why I crashed at the last leg as hard as I did.

Look at nutrition like chews and gels. They’ll replenish your electrolytes and give your body the carbs it needs to keep rockin’ on. Read the directions, and follow them to a T. Also, ask whoever is helping you for advice on each product— they’re more than happy to help.

As a side note: If you haven’t used chews or gels in the past, I was advised that you should stick with chews. Also, do not mix it with Gatorade. Stick with water. The last thing you want is to spend the last half of the race in a port-a-potty.

You’re already going to be in a ton of pain— that just adds insult to injury.

7. Have Realistic Expectations

This goes hand-in-hand with setting realistic goals (i.e.: Your only goal should be to finish). Realize and come to terms with the fact that you are going to HURT. Maybe not during the race— but you will hurt afterward for a few days. Do not plan to run this if you have anything important to do later that day.

On top of that, if you don’t want to hurt afterward— make sure that you know how to take care of yourself post-race.

8. Wear The Proper Gear

I’m not typically an advocate for buying clothes for specific races or events— but if you don’t have the appropriate gear, your experience is going to be awful.

Invest in a well-fitting tech-shirt that is the appropriate weight for the weather. Do not wear cotton. Yeah, that band tee of yours is pretty sweet, and I know you want to show it off— but do not wear it. You’re going to sweat a lot, and that shirt is going to stay wet— which can be dangerous in colder weather, and even more dangerous when you consider the fact that you haven’t trained properly. More likely than not: your body hasn’t quite learned how to regulate your temperature efficiently while running, so it's important that you wear something that will help wick away sweat.

Rule of thumb: Dress for 20 degrees warmer than it is. If it’s 50 degrees outside, dress for 70. If you feel warm at the starting line— you’re going to be boiling by mile 5.

Guys: put band-aids over your nipples, unless you’re highly masochistic and enjoy the idea of your chest bleeding at mile 8.

Women: Wear running tights/capris that are well-fitted and comfortable. The reasoning for this is two-fold— You don’t have to worry about adjusting them since they tend to stay put. Secondly, you don’t have to worry about the torture that is chafing. Also, make sure that you’re wearing a high-impact Sports Bra that is well-fitting and comfortable. (I got a really nice one at Nordstrom’s Rack for around $12).

Running Shoes: if you don’t own a pair of running shoes— ones that have been properly fitted for you— invest in a pair. This is probably the most important thing for you to have. If you are wearing ill-fitting running shoes, you’ll most likely have a lot of issues near the end of your race. If you don’t want foot pain, really bad knee pain (or worse)— get a good pair of running shoes. If the shoes they fit you in are a bit too pricey, it’s always worth looking online for the previous model. That alone can knock a shoe’s price from $130 to $70.

Overall: Be smart about your gear, and know that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get quality stuff.

9. Talk To People

Before the race and during— runners are typically pretty friendly people, and I promise you’ll find someone who’s just as nervous as you. If you’re keeping pace with someone, and they seem open— feel free to talk to them. A Half-Marathon is not an easy feat, and it really helps to know you’re in it with other people.

10. For you— this is not a competition

The first few miles were such an incredible experience. I made the mistake of deciding that my goal was to finish before the person who was keeping pace with me. Even if we both fell behind on time— as long as I finished before her, I would be alright with my results.

Nope. Big fat double-nope. Don't do that.

Around mile 10, that goal flew out the window. She was well ahead of me, and I realized my mistake: This was not a competition. I didn’t train, so I have no right to treat it like an actual race. For myself, and anyone else who hadn’t trained: This was a war— both mentally and physically— and we’re in it together. So, while you’re racing: be kind, and help motivate others to finish. It’ll help you just as much as it’ll help them.

11. Listen to your body

This is NOT the time to push yourself. The distance itself is pushing you enough. If you get a side-stitch or get sharp pains anywhere: Take a second to recover.

Do not push through that pain.

However, it is important to know what pain is normal— and what pain is not. Your knees are probably going to hurt around mile 10 or so, and your muscles are definitely going to be sore. That’s totally normal and usually okay to push through. But that’s about it.

If you feel nauseated, lightheaded, dizzy, or have any sharp and abnormal pains: Stop and recover. Learn the signs of dehydration, and make sure that you’re getting a swig of water at each station to prevent it.

12. Walk up hills

No exceptions. Walk up hills. Even in the beginning. I thought it’d be fine to run them in the beginning, but even if they’re easy: They add up.

And the sum of those hills is you crashing out with 3 miles to go.

Walk the hills. Again: Remember, you didn’t train. You have nothing to prove, other than that you can finish the race before the course gets swept.

13. Don’t Stop After The Finish Line (And Eat SLOWLY)

A banana has never looked so good. And oh! Look! Free juice! Pretzels! Yogurt! GIVE ME EVERYTHING. Smother me in it. I have never considered swimming in Gatorade before that moment, but at the finish line: That sounded like a dream.

Take all the food, but eat slowly. Drink water, and SLOWLY. If you eat too quickly, and too much, you’re going to feel nauseated and hurt even more than you do already (at the very least).

Also, as much as you might want to sit down: Don’t do it. Keep walking around for about 10-15 minutes at a relaxed pace. Here are some more tips on how to recover after your Half Marathon. I did nearly everything you’re NOT supposed to do afterward, and boy was I feeling it.

Learn from my mistakes.

13.1. Be Proud Of Your Accomplishment.

Even if you walked most of it: BE PROUD. Even just walking this is ridiculously hard on your body and your psyche. You’ve earned some bragging rights. Don’t undercut your accomplishments. This is an incredible feat, and you did it.

And now that you know you can finish it, train for your next one.

Cover Image Credit: Dave Meier

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Dwelling In The Negative Creates A Dismal Perspective

We teach ourselves to dwell in the bad. We feed ourselves darkness. We put our faith in the ugly, the disagreeable, the dismal.

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"You are what you eat."

And I think we are much more than matter.

In fact, I think that thinking is pretty key to this entire concept. Food for thought: Thought is food, too. (That's probably been said before, ha, oops).

My best friend studied psychology (and graduated in three years!), and different conversations of ours have led me to think a lot about our brains. My mom also gave me a cool book to read this past summer— one I haven't finished yet— The Healing Secrets of The Ages by Catherine Ponderthat's been exposing the power our own thoughts have over our bodies, our health, our outcomes. She writes that the things we think about the most are the things we put our faith in.

What do we want to be putting our faith in? What do we really believe in?

Most recently, the power of negative thought has become very relevant to me in terms of faith and perspective. There is quite a lot of negativity in this world, and it has a darkening effect.

Negativity kills vivacity, gratitude, presence. It steals from the reality of goodness and places self-pity and hopelessness in the forefront of one's existence.

Does that sound healthy?

When we are negative, does it really feel good? I know that whenever I choose to solely see the sour side of different situations, I always end up missing out on all the good around me. It's easy to block out the gifts we are receiving, and it's also damaging.

Sure, sometimes things suck. Life is far from easy.

But life is also a miracle, and I really think negativity is a defeat. Remaining in a negative paradigm paints the world gray, and it makes seeing the light much more difficult. It's not that the light ever dies or fades, but that we can't see it.

Or we choose not to see it.

And the more we think negatively, the more we teach our brain to follow those same pathways (that's a really Erikanized version of something really psychologically complicated that I only understand on the surface level). Negativity parts the sea for… more negativity.

We were absolutely not created to live a life of negativity. We were made to fly. To enjoy this Earth. To reflect Love. Whatever you believe, I don't think anyone is going to tell me that complaining and maintaining negative energy is the ultimate objective of humankind.

Important note to add: I don't consider fighting for social justice negativity or "complaining." Political activism is by no means "hyper-sensitivity." It's necessary. It's growth for a world that desperately needs it. Social injustice is negativite. Fighting for human rights, equality, equity, peace, dignity— these are positive things. Light defeating darkness.

Also, there are circumstances on this earth (poverty, disease, mental illness, systematic inequality, discrimination), grave injustices and pains, that place people in really dark life situations. Of course, I don't think encouraging positivity should attempt to undermine the gravity of suffering.

Thought that to be a really important note.

Our point of view holds a lot of power over our lives, however. My experience studying abroad in Ecuador has been difficult and wonderful, as many of you know, and while it'd perhaps be temporarily satisfying to mope all day long in the difficulty, it's a thousand times (a mathematically exact number) more rewarding to soak up the good.

Because there is so much good. There is a holy amount of good. Every day I am gifted the greatest wholeness within love. Albeit sometimes seemingly fleeting, the good, the love, are always there.

For the most part, goodness manifests itself in our lives through our perspective. Lenses of negativity create a perpetual interpretation of negativity. If we're always thinking negatively, if we're always complaining, our brain is only going to learn how to do just that, and we'll be less able to enjoy things, because we've taught ourselves to dislike everything.

We teach ourselves to dwell in the bad. We feed ourselves darkness. We put our faith in the ugly, the disagreeable, the dismal. We convince ourselves that everything is against us.

That cannot continue. For the sake of our humanity, we have to keep our heads up. We have to love— people and life. We have to be conscious of our perspective and how it interacts with our reality.

We have to turn those frowns right upside down. We have to put our faith in the goodness. We have to fight for justice, and a large part of justice is love. Light.

Please fight the positive fight with me.

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