Do what makes you happy: Looking after my mental & physical well-being

Mapping Team Intern, Sarah Shields discusses how she has been able to look after her mental and physical wellbeing, through reading, yoga and dog walks.

We’ve all heard the phrases ‘self-care’ and ‘me time’, but what do they mean?

For me, they mean looking after your mental and physical health and your overall well-being. Like many, I’ve experienced the negative effects of stress, anxiety and both physical and mental burnout; basically, running on empty until there is nothing left to give.  Therefore, looking after your mental health and physical well-being are extremely important, and the best way I’ve found to help prevent this ‘burnout’ is doing what makes you happy. It’s taking the time each day when you can unwind, de-stress and relax. It’s a time to do something that you enjoy, that relaxes you, that inspires you, that grounds you; it’s doing something which resets both your body and mind.

How I look after my mental and physical well-being:

Reading:  I’ve always loved to read, but in recent years whilst I have been at university, I haven’t had the time to read books that I love. Not to say that I don’t love textbooks or journals but reading for fun just didn’t fit into the picture. Since finishing university, I’ve rekindled my love of a good hardcopy book much to my family’s dismay (there seems to be a delivery every other day to our house for yet more books for me). Taking the time to immerse myself in a story, or learn about the world around me, transports me elsewhere and really relaxes me. A book coupled with a cup of tea, or a glass of wine, and a lit fire is my idea of complete relaxation. 

Screenshot 2021-04-26 at 10.29.15Being beside the sea: I live by the sea so one of my favourite things to do is to drive to the coast via a coffee shop and either watch the world go by whilst listening to some music, or sit chatting with my sister in the car. Sometimes it’s good to sit and listen, whether that be to music or a friend. Connecting with others is an important part of looking after well-being. Most importantly, I find the sea really relaxing and comforting, and the ocean really puts everything into perspective. It resets and refreshes my mind. 

Sports: I’ve always been a very sporty and active person, and netball is my main love when it comes to sports. I played throughout school, on national development squads, and for my local club. I always found physical, competitive activity a good stress relief. As netball hasn’t been able to happen due to covid and the gyms have been closed, I have really struggled with motivating myself to exercise as I HATE running. I have therefore taken up yoga, which I don’t do as often as I should, but it’s a work in progress. Not only is it good for my physical health, it’s also good mentally, as the controlled breathing exercises relax and calm my mind. 

Screenshot 2021-04-26 at 10.30.32Walks with the dogs: I love being outside in nature and I love my two dogs so it’s only natural that one of my favourite physical well-being activities is going out on walks with them. We have country parks and the beach all within a 10-minute drive, so getting out with them in the fresh air really wakes me up and gets that much needed cardio in as running is out of the question. I think exercising, even if it’s just a walk, gets me up and moving and motivates me to get things done. Being in nature also contributes to looking after both physical and mental well-being, connecting to the world around us and getting some fresh air away from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

For me, both mental and physical well-being go hand in hand. Physical well-being contributes to mental well-being and vice versa. To look after your overall wellbeing and health, there needs to be a balance. Whilst I do try and take time to do what I love; life can often get in the way and it can be hard to take a step back and take time for yourself. In today’s society, we can often feel guilty about taking time for ourselves. You just have to remember that it’s ok to switch everything off once in a while and simply live in the moment doing what makes you happy, because when you take the time to do the things you love, you’ll begin to love the things you do. 

“Self-care is giving the world the best of you, not what’s left of you”- Katie Reed.

If you need any help with how to look after your mental and physical well-being, Covid Wellbeing NI and Mind are some official websites you can turn to for ideas.

Screenshot 2021-04-27 at 11.47.02Sarah is an intern with the Mapping team at PlotBox. 

Sarah joined PlotBox 12 weeks ago, and when she isn't busy mapping, you'll find her at the beach with her two dogs, Murphy and Piper. 

If you want to join Sarah and be part of something amazing, check out our open roles here.

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