When you’re not feeling great mentally, your physical health might be the last thing you worry about. Quite often your mind is far too busy worrying about other things to even consider it, and I can relate to that on a very high level.
I don’t mean your physical image - whether it’s size or shape or amount of muscle you have - because in the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t really matter. I mean healthy as in eating well, getting out, and not realising you’re ill physically.
When my OCD and hair-pulling was at it’s worst last year, it took me nearly a fortnight to realise I had a very bad case of tonsillitis, and it ended up getting worse because of the amount of stress I’d been putting on myself because of my OCD. I won’t go into too much detail, but I ended up needing much more time off school than if I’d just taken a second to ask myself, is my body feeling okay?
My head was too filled with anxieties, worries and emotions to even suss up the thought that my physical well being might not be on the good side of things. In all honesty, I had a crap diet, even worse sleeping schedule and the word ‘exercise’ was nowhere near to being in my vocabulary. I’m not trying to make out as if I’m a vegan body-builder right now, because I am far from that, but I have changed a few things to make my lifestyle better and I have been getting less ill less often.
The first and most important thing to focus on is your diet - That’s not to say you should cut out absolutely everything unhealthy in it, because I am no stranger to the feeling of happiness that only chocolate and nothing else can give me. However, I changed a few minor things - ie, I started having veg with my dinner instead of chips/fries, I exchanged coke for diet coke and where possible to something entirely differently like smoothies. Retrospectively, it’s minor changes but I started getting more of my five a day and more vitamins and minerals. My skin also cleared up a lot which boosted my self confidence.
Secondly, it’s good to get plenty of sleep. This seems a bit hypocritical while I’m writing this because it is 12:03am, but on a school day, I try to be asleep by 11. I usually wake up between 6:30 and 7AM, which gives me about seven hours a sleep a night, but according to Google, teenagers actually need nine hours. This probably seems impossible, because between school, homework and free-time, there just isn’t enough hours on the clock. With that aside though, it’s still vital to get as much sleep as you can. Rather than sacrificing your sleep for the next episode of Supernatural, remind yourself how much better you’ll feel in the morning when you wake up feeling more refreshed and ready to face the day, whether it includes a double-period of science or a maths exam.
Lastly, try to get out more. I have never been a very active person. I enjoyed swimming as a kid, but now my main source of exercise are my weekly PE lessons at school and some nights when I walk home. However, I do try to walk to places where I can, such as the local shops or joining my family when they walk the dogs. Yoga is also pretty good for clearing your mind, or even switching on an upbeat song and going crazy for a couple minutes as you try to dance (and maybe succeed). It’s not about how it’ll change you physically, but it will really make you feel better, more productive and it gets your energy flowing.
If you can apply minor changes to your life, it’ll have a major impact. It can include feeling more refreshed, waking up on the right side of bed and having a much healthier lifestyle. I’ve also found that there’s been little effects such as less spots, shinier hair and a slight change (a positive one) in the shape of my body. Little things can help much more than you realise.
Teenagers With Experience is an online platform ran by teenagers for teenagers. We provide support through sharing our own experiences and providing advice based from this. If you need support, feel free to reach out to us on one of our social media platforms. We will do our best to support you and if we feel we cannot we will direct you to more suited, professional support.