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An introduction to self-care

A Young Champion provides some guidance on coping with bad stress and the importance of self-care.

To be stressed is to be alive. And however uncomfortable it makes you, it is a universal feeling that is a part of the imperfect human experience. Not all stress is bad: trying something new, pushing yourself to new heights or overcoming an obstacle can be stressful but life affirming. But bad stress can be debilitating. It saps your energy, causes fatigue, and increases negative thoughts which can contribute to feeling anxious. Fortunately, there are ways to relax and keep you feeling like yourself. The most basic and important way to decrease stress is by taking care of yourself. It may sound simple, but your mind and body are connected in powerful ways and by maintaining your physical, emotional, and mental reserves, you can actually prevent and manage stress. You must be able to think 'I must prioritise taking care of myself every day – otherwise I just can't function properly.' As tricky as it is to believe – you deserve and need to care for yourself.

One important way to take care of yourself is to consider doing less and not overworking yourself. Sometimes your body needs down time to relax and replenish. Rather than taking on more responsibilities or saying ‘yes’ to that invitation to hang out with friends, take a pause and ask yourself: are the benefits of accepting this invitation worth the potential stress? Sometimes the answer will be ‘no’, a cue to have a more relaxing night in. Sleep is one of the biggest things that people neglect today, but it has a big impact on how we feel, physically and mentally. When you realise that your basic needs as a human being aren't being met, you are able to easily tackle the thing that you may be neglecting. It's important to notice when you're feeling tired and run-down and listen to your body by getting some decent shut-eye.

Gladiolus' represent strength, which you sometimes need to care for yourself.

Don't allow yourself to slip into the mindset that you don't need to be taken care of, that you're not worth it, or that others need to be taken care of more than you do. Because the reality is, you do need to be taken care of, you are worth it, and you can't look after others if you aren't looking after yourself first. And let me be the first to tell you, sometimes these habits aren't easy. Sometimes they're absolutely the last thing you want to do. But it’s overcoming that voice in your head and taking one step in the right direction that makes it easier and easier each time. So if you're realising that you're not taking care of yourself like you should, hopefully some of these habits and tips will give you ideas for what you can start doing each day to show yourself some well-deserved love. People are more understanding than you may initially think.

Another important way to take care of yourself is to make time for reflection – this could include writing down stressful thoughts to get them out of your head or keeping a regular diary that focuses on gratitude and positivity (this could include anything that makes you happy). Taking time to reflect on your feelings and write them down can help calm you down. Taking a few minutes each day for this can even help prevent future feelings of stress or negativity.

Finally – I’d recommend doing something fun! Whether that is skincare or rock climbing; you should always be living life to the fullest and you're allowed to enjoy yourself! I hope this was able to help someone.

On My Mind is a new website that aims to empower young people to make informed choices about their mental health and wellbeing. The pages were co-produced by young people to help other young people. The website includes a self-care page that has 85 self-care strategies.