As athletes, we are told that hard work pays off. But the hard work doesn’t begin and end with sports.

We are also expected to do well in school, join extracurricular activities, maintain a social life and somehow find time to rest. Overtime, these pressures can take their toll – physically, mentally, and emotionally. But there is really no substitute for our health and it needs to be prioritized, especially when we’re feeling bogged down. Self-care is one of the most important things you can do for yourself to stay motivated and feel good doing it.

There are many forms of self-care and it’s important for each person to know what feeds their soul. Often what I need depends on what I’m feeling at the time and can change from one week to another. For instance, when my body is sore or I need a mental reset, you can find me enjoying a facial and massage. Other times, a little retail therapy does the trick. Treating myself to something new, a pair of sneakers or nice athleisure that I’ve had my eye on, can do wonders for my mood and serve as a much needed distraction when I’m stressed. 

Self-care choices can also change seasonally. During winter, when the temperatures drop and darkness sets in earlier, I find myself in need of uplifting. Trying out different types of workout classes (bootcamps, spinning, etc.) helps get me get out of a funk and have something to look forward to. If I really enjoy an activity, I will allow myself to splurge, as I know it will directly support my mental and physical wellness. 

Lastly, let’s not forget about the people who uplift us. The friend who always knows how to make you laugh, the parent who gives the best advice in any situation, the mentor who provides encouragement, and the softest shoulder to cry on (sometimes we need that too). The connections we have with each other can be the best form of self-care, just by knowing we are not alone.

Ultimately, you can only be the best version of yourself if you are feeling your best physically, mentally, and emotionally. And when you feel anxious, stressed, or exhausted, those are perhaps the most opportune moments to give yourself some love. So take a break, do some inward reflection and prioritize your well-being. You deserve it!

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