How I Learned to Take Charge of My Life and My Body
The lives of women have improved drastically throughout history. We’ve become more empowered, and we're undeniably more resilient. A day in the life of a woman is full of all sorts of struggles, but we tend to join forces and come out on top. Sometimes, though, we're so caught up in making sure life goes on that we don’t pay enough attention to ourselves.
Choosing to study physiotherapy in college was a big challenge for me. There's physical obstacles, like the practice on patients, plus mental work to remember the names of all the small and large muscles of the body, bones, and nerve supply. Not to mention assignment submissions, mid-term exams, end-term exams, projects, and hospital postings. It became difficult for me to manage things all at once, and eventually I broke down completely. It was a feeling of giving up.
I noticed that I was becoming weak, physically and mentally. I was getting sick constantly. I had a tornado of negative thoughts in my mind: a fear of failing, a fear of not submitting the assignments before deadline or not completing the syllabus one night before exam. I began to lose weight and got weak and thin. I was sleeping way too much.
Fighting with my best friend, and arguing with my sister and mom became a daily issue. I was isolating myself from family and friends. I began talking less in class and at home. My mom told me that I had become easily agitated. I was forgetting things and couldn’t concentrate. So finally, I decided to evaluate myself for all these things people were mentioning.
Judging from all of my symptoms, I knew that I was suffering from extreme stress. Stress is just a body’s way of reacting to external demands. It happens when the body and mind are not able to balance things adequately. I had to get that balance back.
I started with writing down my goals, long-term and short-term, in a diary. I planned my schedule, and set reminders for each. I added some deep breathing exercises and relaxation techniques, and I made time to run early in the morning. I changed my dietary habits and started eating more regularly (and healthier, too). Gradually, I added some resistance and strengthening exercises to my routine. You've probably heard that when you're under a little physical stress, the brain secretes certain hormones called endorphins. These hormones change the way we feel in a positive way, by reducing mental stress and regulating moods.
Along with those changes, I started sharing all the emotions that were going through my mind with my mom, since I'm very close to her, and we talked about possible solutions. I tried to understand situations before reacting to them, and it made all the difference.
It may feel like you can't bring yourself back, but take it from me: You can. Start by paying attention to yourself.
By Jasrah Javed, 23