I mentioned in a recent post of mine, The Pursuit of Balance, that I feel the happiest that I have felt in a long time. This post is going to explain why.
The school that I go to has become increasingly academic over the years that I have been there, and this is something I resent. In fact, I resent the whole school system in general, as I believe it completely disregards the health and wellbeing of school-goers. Yes I’m doing AS levels, and I realise that these do require a lot of work, but they still feel extremely full-on, time-consuming and very intense.
I’m going to refer back to GCSEs last summer. I overworked myself and actually made myself physically ill. I put huge pressure on myself to work and perform well, and I paid the price. Yes, I got the results I was striving for, but was it worth it? My body suffered badly. I had a pale face, blemishes, dark shadows beneath my eyes, greasy lank hair, splitting nails, no energy and dry, cracked skin. I felt awful. And yet I ignored these signs out of a fear of failure and a desire to achieve. My family have never been pushy, and I’m so grateful for that. They told me to slow down, to relax more and to put my health first, but I ignored this. I had a healthy diet – or so I thought – it was a low-carb, grain-free, paleo-ish diet and I explain why cutting carbs was a huge mistake for me in my post: Carbs- to cut them or keep them?
During my mock GCSEs in January, I was freezing all the time. I felt internally cold, as if, despite the central heating and several jumpers, I could never fully warm up. I believe this was partly due to my low-carb lifestyle, as my body wasn’t being given the energy it needed to maintain my body temperature, and also partly because I had weakened my immune system with the amount of stress I was suffering from.
At the time however, I hadn’t put any of these symptoms down to stress- I mean, who would have thought that something like brittle nails was a result of this?! Looking back, I can see they were.
Click here to find out more on spotting the signs of stress before they become too serious.
Now for the comparison. This year, although the workload was meant to increase, I am actually working less hard than I did last year. I realised that academia isn’t everything, and that it’s actually more important to feel healthy and happy. I’m spending more time doing things that I enjoy, such as attending fitness classes and blogging. I feel more relaxed and balanced. Overall, I am a much happier person. In the past month I have had lots of family and friends say that I “look well”. I feel so much happier, healthier and energised, and it’s showing. It’s also made me realise just how much your internal feelings can affect your appearance.
If you are feeling very stressed, I think it’s important to take a step back and re-evaluate your decisions and perhaps weigh up what’s more important to you. Sometimes we have to remember we’re only humans, not machines, and that we’re not capable of everything. Health is more important than anything, so make sure this comes first, before any exams or other aims that are important to you. Perhaps try to reduce your workload and take some time to care for yourself, maybe by going to a yoga class or treating yourself to some new bubble bath to enjoy.
It took me a while to reach this stage of balance and happiness, but I feel the best I can ever remember feeling, and I’m so glad that I’ve reached it. If any of you have had a similar experience, or would like to share your thoughts, please do comment below.
Thanks for reading!