What Happens When You Practice Self-Care
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11 Things I realized When I started caring about Myself

Finding out why it is 100%150% 200% OKAY to prioritize myself :)

11 Things I realized When I started caring about Myself
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My tragic flaw has ALWAYS been caring way too much what people think of me. I want every single person I interact with to be happy: happy with who they are, happy with their surroundings, and (of course) happy with me. Oftentimes in the past, I'd constantly be so worried about pleasing others that I forgot to take care of myself.

Because of this, going to college hit me like a ton of bricks. I was suddenly on my own, with no one but myself to make sure I was getting enough sleep, enough to eat, time to shower (who knew you could actually be so busy that you have to schedule that?!?!), time for homework, a balance between social interaction and alone time, etc. I basically crashed and burned my first semester, so I realized it was time for an intervention. Thus, I made my New Year's Resolution for 2018 to "focus as much time and energy on making myself happy as I do trying to make others happy".

Now that the year is halfway over, I can honestly say that this has been the best year of my life. As sort-of a mid-year analysis, here are 11 things I realized when I started caring about myself as much as I cared for other people:

1. Alone time is therapeutic.

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I used to have a problem with being alone, but now I love it. Some of my favorite things to do when on a date with myself include journaling, reading, listening to/playing music, and going to coffee shops.

2. You are more of a superhero when you realize it's 100% OKAY not to do it all.

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"Oh, you're too busy to do your part of the report? I got it!"

"Don't worry about missing the meeting, I have 7.5 minutes in between the next two things on my schedule; let's meet up and I'll fill you in!"

"No one signed up to help you paint the banner? Oh my goodness; I'll do it!"

"Wait, there is a basketball game tonight, isn't there? I guess I'll see you there! I'll just skip my nap to study for my exam."

That's a glimpse into what some of my outgoing text messages used to look like. No wonder why I was exhausted! Once I started saying "no" sometimes and realizing admitting I needed help or couldn't handle as much as I thought I could, people didn't think less of me. In fact, I think I gained their respect... but hey, what they think isn't that important to me anymore. ;)

3. Unplugging is actually one of the best ways to recharge.

Turning on "Do Not Disturb" while running on the treadmill, taking a bath, doing my homework, etc. is a HUGE stress reliever. And, guess what? All those messages--and people on the other end of them--are still there after I am done doing what I need to do.

4. You shouldn't feel bad shopping for yourself.

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Once I started caring more about me, I found out I'm actually a lot of fun to shop for--I mean, I can't break up with myself, so I can still carry my new Michael Kors bag no matter what boy breaks my heart. Not to mention, it's super rewarding wearing clothes you know you paid for with money you worked hard to earn.

5. FOMO surprisingly goes away as soon as you stop worrying so much.

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One reason why I tried to be everywhere all the time is because I was paranoid that in my absence, my friends would somehow decide I wasn't important enough to be part of the group anymore. A hard fact to admit, it would probably crush my friends to find out my brain was giving them that little credit. I realize now the people who matter (and guess what--that doesn't have to be every single person you meet) will love me the same whether I can make it to every single event or not, and they'll understand when I need to prioritize other things.

6. Introspection makes you realize things a lot about who you are, and who I am is pretty dang cool.

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Taking time to figure out what is important to me sparked a passion for serving others (surprise, surprise!). I went on an amazing, life-changing mission trip that I don't think would've impacted me so greatly had I not really thought about what it all meant to me!

Also, once I started looking for ways to relieve stress, I found out I love cooking! I never would have known that before. I mean, I never wanted to be alone for a meal and never had enough time to actually cook something that isn't just zapped in the microwave.

Even better, one of the most amazing things about better understanding myself is that I've been able to form bonds with people who share similar interests... SOUL friends. :)

7. You will never be a hero in everyone's book.

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In some books, you may even be the villain. As hard for it is for me to come to terms with, there are people who will always see me as the mistakes I have made and/or the hurt I have caused them. Even though I am miles and miles away from the person I used to be and I know that I am forgiven, they may not see or accept that. Good thing I don't define myself by what they say anymore!

8. Mental health and physical health are intertwined-- and yes, you actually do have take measures to maintain them both.

December and March: before and after 3 months of managing my stress the right way!

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I look at all I used to try to balance, and I can't understand how I ever lived that way. I was constantly fatigued, under-the-weather, and just plain down in the dumps. I went to the doctor over Christmas break because I started having massive headaches, and I found out they were due to a combination of newly developed allergies, jaw clenching, and stress (imagine that!). Once I slowed down a bit, I started to pay more attention to how different foods, amounts of sleep, forms of entertainment, and even relationships, affected me. I started eating better and exercising more because it made me feel better--sure enough, I started looking better too! Bags under my eyes started to decrease, my smile seemed brighter, my skin got clearer, and I even lost some weight.

9. When it comes down to it, you really only have yourself (and Jesus).

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Everyone, even your mom, will let you down at some point. It's just human nature--none of us are perfect. Because I used to place all my self-worth in others' opinions of me, I felt devastated and of little worth when people disappointed me. Now that I place my self-worth in what Christ calls me, other people letting me down still hurts, but it doesn't have anywhere near the detrimental effects it used to have on me.

Plus, once you get to college, you realize that everyone is so busy trying to maintain their own schedules, even your best friends sometimes forget to check up on you. Because of this, you HAVE to be the one to make sure you're staying healthy and happy.

10. To heal, you have to forgive people who never asked for an apology.

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Because people are always going to be people, some people will see you, your happiness, and your success and be filled with bitterness. They're going to do everything they can to hurt you, but you have to forgive them. You cannot move forward if you keep looking back, so sometimes that means finally forgiving people who damaged you so long ago. If not for their sake, do it for yours. You will be so much more at peace.

11. Loving yourself actually helps you love others more.

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Because I am more well-rested, self-confident, healthy, and at peace when I focus on myself, I'm way less stressed and in a much better mood when I spend time with others. This helps me be a better listener, helper, and friend. Who knew something that I thought was selfish would actually help me be more selfless?

Take some time to love YOU!

After six months of making my personal well-being a priority, I can honestly say that 2018 has been the best year of my life so far. I can't wait to see what the rest of the year brings!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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