Give Your Heart And Mind A Break

Give Your Heart And Mind A Break

Taking care of yourself should be at the top of your to-do list.
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I have always been a studious person. I would make flash cards for my vocabulary tests, form study groups with my friends and wake up before the sun to study for an exam. As I grew up and coursework became more rigorous, I did all I had to do to ensure an "A". Sometimes, this meant giving up something dear to most of us: sleep.

When I started high school, I had no idea how vital time-management skills were going to be for my survival. I walked into the building on my first day and was quickly blindsided. I began to receive enormous amounts of homework. My book bag felt heavier than me and the bags under my eyes were darker than a cold winter night. At first, I simply stayed up doing all the work, and somehow made time. All was well until I added extra-curricular activities, something colleges love.

I joined my school’s Mock Trial team and again, walked in blindly, having no idea how intense the experience would be. I was not prepared for my schedule at all. I took as many classes as my school would allow, which at the time was nine. I even took my mandatory gym class during something called “X Period” at seven in the morning, to fit more classes in during the day. The rest of my classes opened at eight. At the start of the year, I thought I was undefeatable; sleep was not something I needed, I could do anything and everything at once.

I would wake up at six in the morning, head to my gym class, then I’d spend nearly seven hours in class, with a small break for lunch at noon. After that, I’d run straight to my Mock Trial practice, where I would stay for 2 to 3 hours. I spent all day exerting my brain in class, and then I voluntarily went to exert it even more. My first year on the team was rough. I had to be trained and I had to learn everything about Mock Trial. I was assigned the role of a lawyer after auditions, which meant more dedication and a heavier workload.

My daily schedule seemed bearable to an outsider, but my family and friends knew something was deeply wrong with me. I would nearly fall asleep during my early morning classes because I would work all day and then stay up till 2 or 3 in the morning to complete all the homework I had, and to review for my Mock Trial competition. My teachers began asking me if I was okay in the middle of their lectures and my school counselor questioned me about my schedule multiple times. I was a mess. I did not allow myself to even think about the words, “break”, “rest”, or “relax.” I wanted to be superwoman; I yearned to be a two-handed juggler with twenty things to juggle.

After months of me not sleeping and developing heart palpitations from my lack of rest, I decided it was time for change. I went to my counselor and adjusted my schedule. There was no way I would leave Mock Trial because I loved it, and to this day, I am grateful for the experience I had. She helped me sort things out and told me something that I’ll never forget. She said, “You want to do it all at once. Take a breath and go at your own pace. Things will only work out once you put your health first.”

Her words stuck with me. She helped me realize that I was doing more than enough and that if doing even more than that meant sacrificing my health, it was not worth it because, in the end, I would do twenty things badly instead of five things thoroughly.

At the time, I went on Tumblr a lot and I once saw a post that read, “Mental Health Days.” The post said that when possible, we should all aim to allow ourselves to have a day to relax; to get away from all the stress our lives bring. Sometimes we begin to fade away because we have no time to re-paint over the withering colors.

I incorporated this into my life after that and began to take a day off from school about two to three times per semester, or as needed. I picked days where I knew I did not have tests to make up later. I knew I would have work to make up, but that was okay. I felt better after having a day to myself. I would go back to school feeling replenished and happy. My mind was rested and ready to learn, and I could complete extra work with ease. This experience helped me learn that taking care of myself was extremely important and should always be at the top of my to-do list.

When I started college, I wondered if these rest days applied to life after high school. One of my professors was giving a lecture about time management. She told us that it is important to have days to ourselves and that when she felt like she truly needed it, she would take up one of her sick days to stay home and recollect. Her reasoning was that although mental burnouts would not necessarily be placed in the same category as the Flu, they affect your body as well, and can lead to you becoming prone to illness later on.

Don’t ever think that you are weak for needing a break from time to time. We are all human. We burn out and sometimes need a new match to light us up again. Everyone feels exhausted if they don’t get proper rest, and unfortunately, in our country, sleep and mental health are often frowned upon. Americans have to be constantly working or studying. Failing to do these things carries a stigma in the culture, which is why many parents are against their kids missing any school days unless they have a fever or a bloody hand.

If you’re still living with your parents and they don’t understand that sometimes you need to put your mental health first, try to explain to them that taking a much-needed break will only make you more productive. Be judicious about the number of breaks you take, because there is a fine line between taking a breather and laying in bed for days. A healthy amount of rest will get you on the right track.

If you feel overwhelmed with your schedule like I did, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you trust to help you sort things out. You can definitely go to class, do extracurriculars, and work at a paying job, but you must first learn to manage your time and disperse it evenly so that you feel good and give your best to all you do.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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10 Quotes That Will Help You Realize Your Self-Worth

Sometimes you need a little pick me up and that's okay because I'm pretty sure it happens to everyone. When I need a pick me up, I tend to look over quotes that help with either giving me an ego boost or reminding me to keep working.

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These 10 quotes are from a notes page that I keep on my phone with a list of over 100 quotes. I keep quotes on my phone to give me reminders, advice, or even some motivation. I specifically chose these ten quotes to help anyone remind themselves to never give up and to know your self-worth, which is priceless.

1. "Hold yourself to a higher standard than anyone else expects of you. Never excuse yourself."

This quote reminds me to only focus on what I think about myself and to continue bettering myself. The part of the quote that states, "never excuse yourself" really illuminates how there is always room for improvement in every aspect of your life. Never allow yourself to fall behind and to continue growing.

2. "I am left with no choice, but to create an empire from these ruins within me."

Anyone I am depressed (or heartbroken...), this quote reminds me you can only come up from rock bottom.

3. "If you're happy in yourself, you radiate happiness and attract happiness."

Any time I'm feeling down, I like to read this quote because it helps me work to getter better. The quote pushes me to get better because everything is much better and warmer when you're happy. Emotions soak in more, laughs are genuine, and happy tears become a reality.

4. "You don't need to be better than anyone else, you just need to be better than you used to be." -Wayne W. Dyer

Dyer's quote forces me to continue improving myself. I know this is similar to the first quote, but it helps even more because it reminds me to never forget where I came from.

5. "Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens." -Louise L. Hay

When I am feeling down about myself, Hay's quote helps me get out of the funk because I will only continue to spiral if I only focus on the negative.

6. "I am the flower and the thorns. I don't need you to touch me in order to blossom." -Haley Hendrick

Hendrick's quote gives me the confidence to be a strong independent young woman. I do not need a pity party to feel better about myself. I can cope and continue growing because rain is the only way flowers bloom.

7. "Be nice to yourself. It's hard to be happy when someone is being mean to you all the time."

If you continue to criticize yourself and only focus on your "flaws," you will never be able to be happy. I know it is harsh but if you don't love yourself, you won't be able to ever fully love anyone. Being kind and allowing yourself to grow is the best self-care. Take a break from whatever you're busy with at the time if you need to. Take a breath and focus on the reasons you love yourself and what all you have accomplished.

8. "I wanna make my parents proud, my enemies jealous, and myself satisfies."

This quote points you in the direction of self-growth because it allows you to remember there are never excuses for yourself. Growing up is a part of life, so is adaptation and evolution. You have to go with the flow and keep up with the times.

9. "Your body is not a temple..."

"Your body is not a temple. Temples can be destroyed and desecrated. Your body is a forest, thick canopies of maple trees and sweet wildflowers sprouting in the underwood. You will grow back, over and over, no matter how badly you are devastated."

Do not ever let anything keep your down, break through the ceiling if you have to. Keep pushing and working for whatever dreams you have.

10. "You don't have to feel guilty about removing toxic people from your life..."

"You don't ever have to feel guilty about removing toxic people from your life. It doesn't matter whether someone is s relative, romantic interest, employer, childhood friend, or a new acquaintance — you don't have to make room for people who cause you pain or make you feel small. It's one thing if a person owns up to their behavior and makes an effort to change. But if a person disregards your feelings, ignored your boundaries, and "continues" to treat you in a harmful way, they need to go." — Daniell Koepke

Sometimes, you had to leave behind people you thought would be in your life forever because they're holding you back. Sometimes they just always bring negativity and make you feel bad about yourself. Sometimes people make cool jokes and don't understand how it isn't funny. These people are toxic and it is okay to remove them from your life. Keep growing but always remember what could have happened if you stayed behind.

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