Self Care: Mental Health Edition
As long days of work and studying go by, and weeks start to blend together, it can definitely feel frustrating at times. In addition to our regular mundane stresses, we’ve undoubtedly had the most nerve-wracking turn of events this year. But not to fear, summer and relaxation will soon be here!
In this article, we’ll be reframing and sharing the science behind pessimism so that you can better take care of yourself — especially while awaiting summer break. So if you're trying to stay motivated and get work done, or you need some inspiration on how to take care of yourself. Either or, you'll surely get something out of this article.
Why Is It Important To Reframe Our Thoughts?
It’s no surprise that neglecting your physical health has negative implications on your lifestyle. However, it can be easy to disregard the way you eat and how much you sleep when there's so much going on in your head.
According to Elizabeth Blackburn, researchers have found a connection between four mental patterns of our thoughts that are harming our telomeres — the “essential parts of the cell’s DNA” — which are directly linked to aging. These telomeres are segments of noncoding DNA and are found on the ends of our chromosomes; they form caps and have the primary function of preventing our DNA from unravelling. Each time your cells undergo cell division, your telomeres will shorten. Now here comes the scary part: when they become too short, that’s when your cell stops cellular division and eventually experience cell death; this could lead to other physical problems within your tissues and organs.
How exactly is this connected to our mental health? Well, here’s the thing, your telomeres are “listening to you” (Epel). Other parts of our health such as physical activity, our diet, and our mental health influence our telomeres. To avoid premature cell death and harming our life and health, here’s how we’ll reframe our thoughts into healthier ones.
Self- Care: How to Think Healthier!
PESSIMISM ⇒ OPTIMISM
Pessimism : A tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future.
Pessimism is one of the top four ways to shorten our telomeres. Although it feels very easy to complain in our current circumstances, with quarantine and our safety restrictions, we should look to the positive side of things! Firstly, remember that all these strict safety protocols are for you — it’s prioritizing your physical wellbeing — and you should feel grateful that you’re able to stay safe and healthy.
If you were feeling bored with structure and routine before the current lockdown, this is your time to harness your freedom and flexibility. Try out some of these new hobbies, do some kind gestures for others, or just challenge yourself to do something fun and worthwhile.
Quarantine Challenge / Checklist
Try cooking a special breakfast for your parents
Pick up an old hobby
Like photography and art? Try scrapbooking!
Make a time capsule of letters to your future self — if not for the sentiment, do it for your future self’s entertainment and laughter!
Learn a song to sing or dance to and send a video of you performing it to your friends and family
Want a way to relax? Read a good book or listen to some podcasts
Play “who’s most likely to” with your parents and siblings
Do some cardio workouts or weightlifting if you have the equipment
*BONUS CHALLENGE: Try out Chloe Ting’s workouts!
Helpful tip: Definitely modify her workouts ;)
Lastly, if you’re feeling a bit lonely, you can definitely take advantage of the free time to connect with your family members. In fact, many families are now are being brought together under the same roof, therefore having more bonding experiences than prior to the pandemic. Even with some family members across the globe that you might not speak to often, take initiative and t them know how much you love and miss them. Since the world seems to have hit pause, you can finally spend the time to connect with people. Talk lots, laugh lots, and help each other live on the brighter side of quarantine.
Article Contributors: Katrina Artes, Edie Whittington