Putting myself first has proven to be one of my greatest challenges. When I’m sad, I start to criticize myself. Usually, I can’t stop. My negative thoughts take over; I tell myself how much of a failure I am for not getting better. I tell myself that I don’t deserve anything, even happiness. Usually, when I am at this low point, I completely abandon myself and put all of my energy into providing for others. I’m not sure why I do this; perhaps I do it so I focus less on myself. Either way, I know it’s bad for me and that it only makes me feel worse. The guilt that I feel about being depressed makes me want to put myself last. It’s a vicious cycle that affects all aspects of my health.
I’ve always wondered why I care so much. I think I care a lot because I know what other people have been through and I want to help them. There’s a difference between wanting to help others and wanting to abandon yourself to help others. It’s not selfish to say no. It’s not selfish to do something for yourself every now and then. It’s not selfish to need to cry. It’s not selfish to ask for help. I also tend to overschedule. I am probably going to quit a sport next year because it is affecting my mental health. Cut the negative things out of your life if you can. This is not selfish; it’s an act of self-care.
I am currently a junior in high school. Yes, it’s difficult. I’ve been stressed, and sometimes I feel like I have to put grades over health and well-being. But I’ve realized that it’s not worth it. If I have a bad night, I take some time off to take care of myself. Here are some simple ways to care for yourself:
- Keep a journal. Make it a goal to write in it when you feel stressed.
- Set limits. You don’t have to say yes to everything; know that it’s okay to say no. It’s okay to want to spend a weekend alone.
- Take an exercise class that you enjoy.
- Draw or paint.
- Take a walk outside. Observe nature.
- Depending on your personality, schedule a night in or schedule a night out to de-stress.
Simply taking thirty minutes out of your day to care for yourself and put your needs first is beneficial to your health. When I do this, I usually get more things done. The homework that I have doesn’t seem so scary anymore. I made the decision to deal with my stress. Putting yourself first is a long journey, but it is so worth it.