We all have those special things that we do that get us through the hard times. The special things that are our ways of self-care that combat the doubt and depression. Music, cooking, drawing, getting outdoors, writing… etc. For myself personally, and I know for a lot of people as well, my main way to combat stress, fatigue, depression, (the list goes on and on) would be fitness. Getting into the gym, sweating it ALL out, and lifting heavy. I can take my frustrations out on the weights and at the same time help keep my body healthy! What a win win situation. I find I feel my best when I am lifting heavy and doing…. Drumroll please… squats. There is something about doing squats that clears my head for me. I use it as a metaphor as well sometimes for life. If something heavy takes you down, you push right back up. Keep your standards high and your squats low because everything will get better down the road. You just have to sweat out a bit of the nerves first.
Before I started getting into fitness I was a stick. Looking back at pictures of myself now I can’t even imagine how tiny I used to be all the way up to the beginning of college, that is when I started lifting in earnest. All through high school though I sat at about a hundred pounds and would get sick often. I ate healthy, but not enough and many people thought I was anorexic. Starting college I was taking about twenty-three credits a term as well as working part time. I was a music student so outside of my classes and homework and work I also had to learn music and practice for concerts. So my life was just crazy crazy busy. I lived in a constant stress bubble and would often have breakdowns and noticed I got sick easier. I remember one week clearly…. every day that week I had a panic attack and would end the day saying I couldn’t do college anymore, it was too much. I thank God for my mom talking me through each of those panic attacks, never getting frustrated with me and always helping me get back up and face the next day. I needed to end that though and that is when I decided to change my life. I was tired of being sick, stressed, depressed, and tired all the time… I needed a change! So I started going to the gym. I didn’t know anything really about working out, but I started out light and would watch people around me plus YouTube videos on form and how to do certain exercises. I took it at my own pace and worked out a regiment that worked for me, and you know what…. Wonders and miracles started happening. One of the first major things I noticed was my mental health improved SO MUCH. I wasn’t as stressed and depressed all the time. I was actually smiling more and laughing and my panic attacks were minimal. I was taking the time to do something that was helping me not only in the moment, but also in the long run.
Fast forward to present day Mikaela. Since starting to work out about five years ago now I have gained around thirty-five pounds and most of it has been muscle due to the fact I still look pretty slim. Nothing compared to high school Mikaela though… I have become more secure and confident in myself. Not only because I am getting muscles, no but because delving into fitness has changed me in such a good way. My work ethic has improved and so has my mental health. I don’t mind pushing myself that extra bit in the gym and wearing myself out because I know down the line my body will thank me. People still say I’m a pretty quiet person, or as my best friends say until you get to know me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not confident. Many times people get shyness and not being confident confused. I may be a bit shy or quiet, but that is more due to the fact I say what I want to say and am not a huge small talk person. If I feel what I have to say won’t really benefit the conversation I will not say it. That doesn’t mean I am unconfident though. Since working out I have definitely found myself having way more self love and wanting to share that with others.
So long story short, I wanted to share a bit of my journey not to be like oh poor me, but to give an example of the positive changes of finding a lifeline. Find something to carry you through the hard times and help you grow as a person as well. Something that nourishes your soul with the self-care and love you are giving yourself in the moment. If we are always on the move, always going down the road of life quickly we are going to get burnt out and crash. If you take a bit of time out here and there during your daily life to treat yourself you will not only be more physically and emotionally happy, you will also be mentally happy. Your brain will thank you so much for taking that extra time to make sure you are doing okay. That little bit of extra time you take out during each day could help prevent a large train wreck for yourself later down the road. We all know what it feels like to be exhausted, burnt out, full of doubt. It’s no fun at all to feel that way. What if we all cared about ourselves as much as we cared about other people and took that extra time to treat ourselves. Well we need to do that. We need to give ourselves that time during the day or that change of lifestyle to avoid the burnouts down the road. Put yourself first once in a while. Don’t be afraid to say no to something if you know it will not be beneficial for you in the long run. We have to have our backs because in the long run we are stuck with ourselves for our whole lives, so why not take care of ourselves then!