One of the first things you're taught as a teacher is Maslow's hierarchy of needs. It's a motivational theory that our most basic needs for survival (food, water, shelter, etc) take precedence over others, it's the first thing that motivates our behavior. Higher up on the scale are needs of being: safety, love, friendship, self-esteem and on.

If our basic needs for survival aren't being met, there is no way our needs of being are going to be met either. This is one of the first things you're taught when you enter education, and despite the fact that I know this, I was ignoring this concept within myself.

Last semester, even the one before that, my health was not a priority, and it showed. My immune system was terrible making me constantly sick. I was fatigued more often than not. Working out was something I hadn't done in months, and I was barely eating three meals a day.

One of the main reasons I struggled with my health was due to academic stress and depression. Every now and then I would see an article that expressed the importance of incorporated self-care into your daily routine, but little did I know that doing a face mask wouldn't make up for where I was lacking in other aspects. Not eating regularly, getting enough sleep, or exercising prevented me from being able to fully commit myself to my academics, work, and relationships.

Deep down, I've always known that to get to a better place mentally, I had to really start paying attention to what my body needs. Since I was lacking in physical activity, mental clarity, and diet, it was going to take a lot of effort. I started making small goals for myself.

Maybe I would start by trying to get 8 hours of sleep, but that didn't work. Maybe I could get myself to eat at least two meals a day, but I would quickly give up or fall behind, which discouraged me even more. I struggled over and over again and I was exhausted. I thought I would never get to a place where I felt mentally and physically healthy until I finally was fed up.

The beginning of a new semester gave me enough motivation start taking a holistic approach to my health. I started by taking even smaller baby steps than before, but this time I was making improvements across the board. I began going to the gym only once or twice a weak and doing small, simple workouts to help myself get back into the habit.

Now, I'm going at least three or four times a week and am reaching goals I never thought I could. I forced myself to eat breakfast every single day, first thing in the morning. By getting myself to eat breakfast, it jump-started my metabolism, and I, eventually, started to become hungry at normal meal times. I set my alarm clock earlier to prevent myself from sleeping late, starting at 9:30 am, then 9:00, then 8:30. And so, these steps started to form a pattern and eventually a habit that wasn't as easy to break.

I consider myself a much healthier and happier individual than I was less than a year ago, but it's not easy. Committing to a holistic approach to my health has been one of the most challenging decisions I have ever made, and each day I struggle to make sure I slip back into my old ways.

I am still not exactly where I want to be, but nobody is perfect. We all have areas we want to keep improving. It's not without the help of a great support system of friends and family or personal motivation of seeing how far I've come that I've been able to reach these goals.