Taking My Own Advice

Happy MLK Day! I hope everyone is enjoying their day off today if you’re lucky enough to have one…I guess college isn’t too bad 🙂 Today, I want to share with you a personal story that I think some of you are aware of. To start, we need to venture back to January 2017…

I’ve always been the kind of person that likes to stay busy, and if you know me well, you know that sitting around and doing nothing is quite literally my least favorite thing to do. I’ve always been of the mindset that there’s always something to be done, whether it is working, cleaning, homework, etc. For some, it stresses them out that I can’t sit still, but for me, it’s the complete opposite. So when I accepted a work position as a nutrition assistant for USF Dining and a research position with the USF Performance & Physique Enhancement Lab in addition to taking 17 credits that semester, people thought I was crazy, but I was excited.

During the first few months, school and work were busy, but I was enjoying myself. There were a few days that I was a little overstressed, but it wasn’t anything too bad. Fast-forward to April/May, and it was a completely different story. I was stressed out of my mind to say the least. Work became 20 hours a week instead of 10, research evolved into 10 hours a week instead of 4, and my classes decided to give even more work than they did to begin with. Oh, my dog of 16 years also passed, too. I was also faced with the sudden decision to graduate early, which meant I needed to study for the GRE and contact graduate schools. Not surprisingly, I was only sleeping about 5 hours a night, and that took a major toll on my health. By the end of the semester, I had been diagnosed with stress-induced Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS). When the time came for summer, you better believe I was back home as quickly as possible.

I’m not telling you this because I want you to feel bad for me. I actually smile whenever I look back at that time in my life because it’s made me who I am today, a person I’m pretty proud to be. Instead, I’m telling you this because I want to show you that life happens sometimes and it’s easy to let your physical health get away from you. This past week, I found myself in the same situation as I did a year ago…getting 5 hours of sleep, stressed, and having IBS flare-ups. After 3 days, I came down with a cold that has been plaguing me for 4 days. I’d like to think this is my body giving me a warning sign that I need to remember to take care of myself. I mean, after all, if I don’t take care of myself, how can I sit here and talk to you all?

So today (Sunday), I didn’t set an alarm. I took the day off from the gym to catch up on me. I wasn’t expecting to sleep until 10:15 (the latest I’ve slept in a year), but it’s okay. My body needed it.

It’s so easy to get caught up in life’s challenges and overwork yourself, but the repercussions of doing so can be detrimental. When I got IBS, I was 19. I’ll most likely live with it for the rest of my life. It’s unfortunate, but I can’t blame anyone else but myself. So today, take a step back and ask yourself…is your body giving you warning signs that you’re not listening to? Don’t let something small turn into a lasting consequence.

If you’re stressed, here a few tips and tricks that have helped me:

  • Go on a walk once a week to de-stress and get your mind right.
  • Take sometime to read every week.
  • Try going to a yoga class.
  • Go to the gym to blow off steam.
  • Journal.
  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Pray and be with God.
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