By: Sammy Harris
Hi again, guys!! It’s been so much fun writing two posts now for GreenHawks Media each month this semester, especially because I am writing about very different, but intertwined and related, topics: ~quarantine sanity~ and sustainable shopping/eating. I am especially excited because this week is perfectly fitting for a ~quarantine sanity~ activity due to the anxiety and stress that I am sure a lot of you are feeling as you try to balance the election’s insanity with keeping up in school, work and other obligations. Finding balance feels particularly tense and difficult this week, making it all the more evident how beneficial it is to be mindful and intentional of finding balance in our everyday lives.
Whether it is 80/20, 70/30, 76/24, or 50/50, having a balanced lifestyle looks different for every single one of us, but nonetheless, it is so important to establish and be mindful of. In retrospect, during my first two years of college, especially freshman year (feels like forever ago, wow!), I am thankful for the constant trial and error that I have gone through in order to find the daily balance makeup that makes me a calmer and happier person. I mean trial and error in the most exaggerated manner because I went from one extreme to the other between my first and second semesters at Miami.
First semester freshman year, people would say ‘I had my sh*t together’, but I actually just ran myself to the ground by spreading myself too thin and being way too hard on myself about school, campus involvement, working out and eating healthy. Then came a complete 180 second semester, where I let myself go; I stopped eating healthy, working out, going to class, the list goes on.
At the conclusion of my freshman year, when I went home for the summer, I experienced a major pivot in my life; not a pivot back to my perfectionist habits of the first semester, but a pivot to focus on how to find a balance between these two extremes. I approached this summer as a time to figure out what works best for me and my mental health, without beating myself up over anything, in order to build habits that I would then be able to continue through sophomore year and on.
Before I go on into the how of my pivot this summer, I want to remind you all that each of you is amazingly unique from me and from one another, so how I balance my life can be totally different than how you balance yours. The common ground is that each of us finds balance in our lives.
With that said, I am ecstatic to share with you my journey in making my balance intentional, beginning this summer after freshman year, in hopes of inspiring you to reflect on and think about making YOUR balance intentional as well.
For me, a lot of my balance revolves around health and fitness. My health/wellness journey began my senior year of high school with sports like cross country and basketball. Here, I learned the hard way that you can’t perform at your best without fueling your body with plentiful real, nutritious food. The improvements in my mental and physical health after I instilled healthy eating habits into my daily routine has caused my mindful eating (as you can tell by my other posts) to transpire in my personal brand still today.
By no means when I say mindful eating do I mean all healthy all the time; instead, I am very aware of what food makes me feel good, and eating more of that, which is definitely three scoops of Graeter’s sometimes (and that is totally ok, balance!). A huge point of growth I have experienced since my senior year and the first semester of college is that I do not let myself feel guilty anymore about a single meal, snack, or treat. I simply remind myself that these aren’t my habits, as I eat healthy, real food for the most part, so why should I restrict myself from treating myself (maybe on a consistent basis) to one of my favorite foods? The answer is that I shouldn’t!
Fitness-wise, I find that I grow the most and am the most satisfied with my habits or routine when I set measurable goals that allow me to give myself a pat on the back when I meet them and then set another one moving forward. Any goal is better than none, whether that be working out more days than not, which is what I have set approaching busier weeks, or a long-term goal of training and running a half marathon at the end of the summer (which I actually signed up and paid for as soon as I set this goal, so I couldn’t back out).
I also find that making fitness social not only gets me excited to work out, but also skyrockets my mental health in the right direction by doing two activities that definitely qualify as mind and heart food: moving and socializing. This can be anything from simply going to the Rec with a friend, attending a workout class, or going on a long walk (my favorite sanity activity!).
This is the epitome of balance: incorporating multiple positive areas of your life into a single activity or outlet.
I also find myself yearning for a balance between socializing and personal time. While I can assure you that my happiness depends on conversing and spending time with friends and family, I go insane if I have no time to myself. To this day, I fluctuate with my allocation to me time versus friend time, but I don’t beat myself over it if I realized I spent way too much time by myself this past week; instead, I become aware and mindful of it, making an intention to hang out with friends in the coming days. As several of you can probably relate, during quarantine I definitely grew a strong appreciation for socializing, as I often would take it for granted at school with friends or home with family.
To ensure that I give myself ‘me time’, I make an effort to incorporate walks into my daily routine, where I often listen to podcasts (Skinny Confidential & How I Built This are two of my favorites), or I also love to walk unplugged and just sit in my own thoughts. Literally no matter where I am- home, school, on vacation- I make an effort to find a coffee shop (or multiple!) where I will go alone to get work done: Kofenya is definitely a favorite of mine in Oxford. FOMO is a huge roadblock to personal time for a lot of us, including myself, but you just have to remind yourself that your best friends will love you just as much two hours later!
I want to reiterate that these are just a couple of ways of how I have made balance intentional in my everyday life. The results of figuring out this balance of a healthy and treat-myself lifestyle for most of the time, in addition to ensuring I have ‘me’ and ‘we’ time, definitely remain as work in progresses, but have down INCREDIBLE thing to my mental health nonetheless: feeling more confident, self-aware, comfortable, and motivated are just to name a few!
I just want to finish off this with important tips, in no particular order, that can help each of you figure out your balance:
- Treat weekdays like a workweek: be productive with school/work, fuel yourself with yummy, healthy food, and get moving during the week, earning those days off and Skyline Chili runs on the weekend!
- Get a routine down that gives you time each day for activities that make you happy and healthy: reading, journaling, working out, etc.
- Set short-term and long-term goals for yourself that are attainable and that you will be proud of when you complete.
- Listen to yourself and your body to decide what you need to balance and how you are going to do so — honestly, the journey of figuring it out has taught me so much about myself!
- Never feel afraid or hesitant to treat yourself to your favorite things, especially if it is Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip (and yes, I did capitalize each word in its name because it’s THAT worth it!).
- Notice how much I said you and yourself — this is YOUR journey, so focus on YOU and believe in YOURSELF!
Please feel free to reach out to me (Via my Instagram) and/or GreenHawks Media with any suggestions, requests, questions, etc.. I cannot wait to keep sharing my love for intentional cooking/eating, in addition to tips & tricks for our mental health during the current insanity!
Photo courtesy of Sammy Harris