For many of us all around the globe, summer time is upon us. It’s a pivotal time for relaxation and reprieve from the stresses of the school year and regardless of what you may believe, this break is well deserved. I’ve often found it incredibly difficult to learn how to take a step back. My evidenced fixation with success, doing well and my perfectionism often prohibited me from putting myself and my mental health first. However, I evidently learned that my preoccupation with perfectionism tended to be a lot more detrimental to my health than I previously presumed.
For many teenagers, with all the responsibilities that they have to fulfil, their extracurricular and regular day to day activities, it’s easy to fall victim to overworking yourself during the school year. This combination of both emotional and physical stress can culminate and reach epic proportions, leading to an inevitable crash. Avoiding this point of overwork is sometimes tumultuous, as it often involves saying no to a thing you might usually say yes too and taking a step back from your obligations regardless of the expectations of those around you. However, it’s important to pay attention to your body and its cries of overwork. Though it’s often hard to get out of the vicious cycle of sleeping less, staying inside more, not putting enough food in your body and surviving barely on caffeine, it’s essential that you do.
People often associate notions of taking care of your body to be something like going on an all green vegan diet or going to pilates and meditating each morning at sunrise. Though this may be beneficial for some, taking care of yourself doesn’t have to encompass drastic life changes and reinvention but taking into consideration that you are an individual of value and importance that can’t flourish under negative conditions. It’s important to recognise how detrimental your past behaviours are to you and your development, and how unhealthy they can be if you let them manifest without bettering your actions. This could be merely taking the daily precaution of setting a notification on your phone to remind you to eat or to engage in a fun, yet frivolous activity like browsing through Tumblr or Youtube and most importantly taking a break to breathe.
Being aware of yourself and your physical existence isn’t to be associated with narcissism or being too self-involved, but instead is something that you should be proud of, as putting yourself first is oftentimes a necessary step that no one should judge you for.
There are going to be a lot of things in your life that are out of your control so whenever you have to opportunity to regulate your own pace take it in your stride. Sometimes the biggest stresses are unavoidable, but can oftentimes be self-inflicted. Yes, getting that grade may be important and yes, you might need to take that summer job, but don’t allow these needs to be mixed in with a barrage of countless high expectations, the influence of those around you and the notions of being the perfect individual because this doesn’t exist. The more you reach for this unattainable target, the more you lose sight of what’s important: you!
Though people in your life can point you in a direction and encourage you to take yourself and your health into consideration, deciding to put yourself first is a step that only you can take. So this summer, it’s time to take a stand for yourself. Perfection is unattainable, you can’t do everything and that’s okay because of your human and maybe it’s time to start recognising your own humanity.