Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Prioritising your wellbeing is the most courageous thing you can do

In a world that expects us to work, work, and work again, the bravest thing we can do is take a step back and prioritise ourselves. Nowadays, we are judged by our output more than ever, each day is expected to be productive and somehow if we fail to produce something then that counts as time wasted. The increasing notion of ‘rise and grind’ has led to us putting immense pressure on ourselves to always be working and we can only relax once we are done. When in reality, we cannot pour from an empty cup so replenishing ourselves is the kindest thing we can do.

Throughout the pressures of everyday life, it can be very easy to forget to take care of ourselves properly and believe that taking the time to care for ourselves is necessary. You may have heard recently that Jesy Nelson from Little Mix announced that she would be leaving the band to focus on her mental health and wellbeing.

While at first my heart was shattered as an avid Little Mix fan myself, I couldn’t help but also feel proud of her for being brave enough to make such a difficult decision. Usually, stepping away from something is viewed negatively or seen as ‘giving up’, but actually, by putting ourselves first we are ensuring our own continuance to do better things.

Academic life is one area where this pressure is applied so harshly

We are expected to give our all to jobs, companies, and institutions that quite frankly view us as replaceable and temporary. We’re haunted by the reminder that if we don’t do what is expected of us, that they will just get someone else to do it instead. It is almost as if we are meant to ignore our struggles and just ‘get on with it’. Perhaps, it would be easier to do the things we need to do if we also took the time to nurture our wellbeing as well?

Academic life is one area where this pressure is applied so harshly. The jump between university and A-level study is one that takes some time to get used to. It becomes more independent and the workload is heavier no matter what degree you are undergoing. Truthfully, it can be very difficult to keep up with at times. Pulling late nights and all-nighters just to complete reading and assignments have become a normal and accepted part of student life. Actually – I don’t think this is very normal at all.

This became more apparent with the start of the most recent academic year as most learning was online due to the ongoing pandemic. Naturally, you would expect that lecturers and tutors would be more understanding of student’s circumstances and wellbeing.

Recognising what we need to do for ourselves can actually help us

Instead what I found was that workload was being increased and there was greater expectation of it being done since it was assumed that we would all be at home and have nothing to do. Therefore, all of our time must go towards academics, right?

The conversation surrounding student mental health has been extremely topical this year, with wellbeing services being emphasised more than ever. Yet, the expectations for academic work has not lessened nor have deadlines been more lenient, which is actually what is creating a lot of the stress for students.

It’s important for us to be kinder to ourselves and one thing that can be very useful is setting boundaries for our academic work. Halfway through term one, I decided that I would not be doing academic work after 8 pm and instead use that time to read and journal to wind down from the day. Recognising what we need to do for ourselves can actually help us produce better work and feel less stressed about it.

It is also important to extend that understanding to ourselves as well

Our mental state is not linear. One day we may be feeling on the top of the world, and then the next few days it can be difficult to even think about getting anything done. This is more than okay – the best thing we can do for ourselves is listen to our body and give it what it needs.

This doesn’t always look like a cup of tea and a face mask. It can also be saying no to events, going to bed early, saying no to hanging out with friends, simply because you don’t have the capacity to. This is not something that people should be ashamed of, but it can sometimes be difficult to implement and follow through with.

A couple of months ago I wrote an article about friendship in the pandemic and spoke about being more understanding of my friends and their circumstances. This still continues, yet since then I have realised that it is also important to extend that understanding to ourselves as well.

It is not selfish to take care of yourself

We are also worthy of the same compassion and love that we feel others deserve. It is not selfish to take care of yourself, in fact taking care of ourselves allows us to recharge so that we can continue to show up for others and continue our responsibilities as well.

This past year has truly been an eye-opening time. The expectations of life have not decreased, instead we are expected to continue as normal within a pandemic which is the most abnormal of circumstances. So, I urge you to make self-care an intentional part of your day, whatever that may look like for you, there is no right or wrong way. Remember, prioritising your wellbeing is the most courageous thing you can do.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.