3 Ways to Take Care of Yourself

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Taking care of ourselves is highly undervalued. Perhaps we do not measure it as important against the visions we have of our future selves or perhaps we somehow perceive it as selfish and shallow. But taking care of ourselves is instrumental to anything we want out of life, because our success ultimately comes down to us, the health of our mind and body. Here are three ways to help us take better care of ourselves:

1. Take your own advice

How many times have we given our best advice to a friend or acquaintance but blatantly ignored it when we find ourselves in the same situation? Those of us who are guilty need to stop. Why do we have different rules for ourselves? We need to start seeing ourselves as worthy of happiness, love and strength. Give yourself some credit and let yourself have the best chance.

2. Sleep well

Getting enough sleep isn’t just a matter of recharging for the day ahead. Our energy levels have a huge impact on our susceptibility and sensitivity to negative emotions. Feelings of worry, despair, anger, stress are all heightened by exhaustion. Sleeping well keeps us more alert, grounded and positive; any degree of this can be extremely beneficial to keeping ourselves from drowning.

3. Take a day at a time

It might seem obvious, but we have to stay present, not only so that we can get as much out of the day as we can, but also to put life into perspective. We cannot do everything in a day, so we shouldn’t even put that kind of pressure on ourselves. Our best is enough, and we need to remember that it’s okay to take a breath, to have a bad day, and to treat ourselves. Create a life that you love, not one that you find is a chore.

(Image: seemenotcp.wordpress.com)

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For the Love of the Sun

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The summer weather has reached England and I can finally go outside and soak up some Vitamin D! They say that being outside in the sunshine boosts your happiness levels from the increase in serotonin levels in your body, helps you slim down due to a certain level of loss of appetite in the heat, creates healthier looking hair and clearer looking skin. Who could pass that up?

But with these awesome positives comes the other side of the spectrum; people dismiss sunburn, skin cancer or heat stroke as actualities because they think they know it all, or more commonly that it won’t happen to them. But one should be responsible and protect themselves from excessive exposure to the sun’s rays and research the real implications. There are three different categories of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation with increasingly dangerous consequences: UVA causes visible changes on the face such as wrinkles and discolouration, UVB damages proteins in the skin and can result in sunburn and skin cancer, and UVC (which according to WHO does not reach the earth’s surface) can cause mutilations in DNA. Some of the tips websites give people such as wearing long-sleeved tops and long trousers, avoiding the outside, and wearing UV resistant swimming costumes are unthinkable. So whether you are going on a sun-packed holiday or just lounging in the garden, here are some tips on protecting yourself so that we can get as much as we can out of the sunshine as possible!

  • As we can’t be expected to wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers, we can wear clothes with varying places of exposure to the sun. For example, if you wear a sleeveless top one day, wear a t-shirt the next day, or if you wear a low cut top one day, wear one with a higher neckline next time. This will stop the sun shining on the same place a number of days in a row
  • Although it’s the most obvious, sunscreen is something some people avoid due to the myths surrounding it. But sunscreen is a must, especially on shoulders and chest areas. You can still get a tan whilst wearing sunscreen, and if you have naturally tan skin you are not immune to sun burn or skin cancer. Use and reapply sunscreen regularly for maximum protection, even if its waterproof
  • Many say that sunscreen breaks their face out, so, for your face, face moisturisers and bb creams that contain SPF are perfect, because they are designed for your face and have measures of protection against the sun’s UV rays. For BB creams, see Vogue’s top ten here: http://www.vogue.co.uk/beauty/2012/06/29/10-best-uk-bb-creams—beauty-benefit-balms-with-spf
  • Not everybody likes to wear hats, but a wide-brimmed hat not only covers your face and eyes but also your scalp which can become very itchy if it burns – if you really cannot deal with hats, but a bandana or scarf-type accessory around your head and make sure to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes
  • Wear shoes that are open, such as flip flops, or bigger than your normal shoe size – feet tend to swell in extreme heat, and with the sweat, we don’t want uncomfortable blisters forming
  • Moisturise everything – your hair, your lips, your hands, your skin etc. etc.! Not only will they be smooth but hydrated too!
  • For your hair, you can deep condition hair once a week with a product containing keratin or protein, avoid heat-styling, and even find hair products that have SPF or UV protecting ingredients in them. Nobody wants their hair to be dry, brittle or frizzy!
  • To drink plenty! – again, it sounds obvious, but it can be easy to forget. One of my favourite summer drinks is lemonade topped with strawberries and ice: cool and refreshing
  • Exercise in the mornings, because it is cooler at this time than midday or late afternoons
  • You don’t need to be in direct sunlight to get a tan – even in the shade, we can catch sunrays due to the reflection from water or concrete whilst being safer because the shade blocks off direct sunlight and a significant amount of UVB radiation.
  • Tans are a gradual process: there is no reason to but your skin under intense exposure because you won’t get a tan in a day. Therefore, the key is to do nothing extreme. Tanning beds apparently emit 2 to 5 times more UVA radiation than the sun. Is it really worth it?: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/tanning-beds
  • My last tip would be to research anything you are unsure about. Research effects of UV radiation, research different skin products, different hair products. Don’t be lazy!

Body Image

“I believe in waking up every day and taking a good step towards health and honoring your body” – Troian Bellisario

Body image is one of the first factors that determines somebody’s ‘attractiveness. In Victorian England where a woman’s role was predominantly characterised by motherhood, women worse specific styles of corsets and dresses to accentuate the parts of their body that made them look suitable for future reproduction, such as their hips and waist. That way they could attract a husband by advertising their suitability for wifehood and motherhood. Nowadays, we still dress and make our bodies look a certain way (which is usually defined by others) in order to impress, to look cool, to be liked, whether it be directed towards a love interest or other peers. It seems what makes us feel happy or good about ourselves in our own bodies is largely reliant on what others think and whether they accept us. It seems as if we can only accept ourselves if others accept us.

I think what we have fallen short on is our own ability to define what makes us happy regarding our bodies. It is even harder to do this with the media’s increasing manipulation of what is considered ‘attractive’ and the pressure to conform to society’s norms that constantly intrude into our lives. When gossip magazines criticise the bodies of celebrities to the extreme, it is no wonder that we criticise and judge the bodies of people in our every day lives, and even more so, our own bodies. Body bashing becomes normality, and we get caught in a cycle of negativity that breeds insecurity. It is normal to be unhappy with one’s body. What’s more, many people are unaware that images of celebrities and people we look up to in magazines and the Internet are photoshopped and airbrushed; we take drastic measures to warp our bodies into a frankly unattainable ideal.

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It’s hard to offer any solution to these problems; we can’t get rid of society or the media and they can be hard to change. But we can talk about and look at body image and its relation to attractiveness in a different light. We all have insecurities. Some of them are exaggerated in our own minds. We all have parts of our body that we do not like, and we all envy parts of other people’s bodies – but what that means is that there are parts of our bodies that other people like and envy too. Everyone’s body is different and requires different attention and care; not everyone can or should have one type of body image, it might not be right for them. We shouldn’t have to have plastic surgery or develop a disorder to something that shouldn’t be that important in the first place. Think of all the beautiful things your body does for you – is it right to abuse it, by under or over-eating? What if we all looked the same? Wouldn’t it be awful? And who is to say that everyone has the same taste in ‘attractiveness’? One of my male friends only finds a girl attractive once he has fallen for their personality. People like that do exist. 

What I believe to be one of the first most attractive and beautiful qualities in a person is Confidence. Confidence is something everybody can have, including confidence in one’s own body. It would be stupid to deny that body image has nothing to do with the mind: you are in complete control. Just like you’ve been telling yourself what is ‘wrong’ with your body, you can remind yourself of what is good about your body. Confidence is something to develop and master. Most importantly, being confident or comfortable in your own skin does not mean having no insecurities, it means accepting those parts of your body as part of what makes you beautiful. One day you might grow out of those insecurities. You should celebrate and honour your body, which includes eating healthily and exercising regularly without extremity. 

The last thing I want to reiterate about body image is that your body is yours and nobody else’s. And you must consider how much body image should really matter. At the end of the day, what counts is the type of person you are on the inside, and that will radiate onto the outside. The more we promote this, the closer we come to making that the new norm.