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Credit: Isabel Liang

The batteries in the scale on my bathroom floor stopped working sometime in January. While flaunting my floral mask and waiting in my local checkout line recently, I grabbed the AAA batteries I needed for my scale to illuminate again. When I got home, my scale revealed I was up eight pounds. I wasn’t surprised. My normal physical activities had been slashed throughout quarantine. My sportiness barely resembled the exertion to which I had been previously accustomed. The notification my scale provided wasn’t what bothered me. Obsessing over a weight goal is not a healthy approach to self-care. What did bother me was not feeling great, physically. 

As reckless driving began to spike during the pandemic, I decided to avoid any unnecessary time on the road and purchase a treadmill. Since implementing morning and evening jogs, I’ve noticed positive differences in my weight, energy levels, and mental clarity. Talking to one of my friends about her journey with distance running and losing the eight pounds I gained encouraged me to expand my exercising goals. Meeting each goal, small or big, has felt invigorating.

While sitting at my desk writing a 15-page final a few weeks ago, my mind started to wander. This happens occasionally.  One evening at my desk, I found myself feeling like my bedroom space needed to be revamped. The following day, I found a pair of delicate sheer curtain panels that I thought would compliment the important space where I spend a lot of time thinking and writing. My bedroom has given me a steady sense of reinvigorating calmness since I welcomed the new curtains. 

It’s easy to write off the initial steps toward prioritizing self-care because the entire concept of self-care can be tricky. Figuring out an individual approach toward giving yourself some devotion can come packaged in many different ways. Deciding what works is a trial-and-error process. I had to experiment and pay attention to my inner voice. It wasn’t always simple. 

Ultimately, self-care can be whatever you want it to be. It can be meditating to reggae music, baking a cake, dropping off homemade goods at a friend’s house, tackling a new vegan dinner, driving alone, doing your nails, or bringing plants into the home. Only you can define what adds quality to your own life. The most important part is that you prioritize yourself for a few moments when it is necessary. 

Life’s activities and responsibilities evolve constantly. We are all so often met with demands that take commitment, planning, and energy. Sectioning off a regular portion of time to center yourself is imperative for balancing a healthy outlook toward your life. 

The world has slowed down significantly over the last few months. With the pace of normalcy being slightly less fierce, now is the time to incorporate some personal time into your life. 

Altering my eating habits and incorporating jogging into my daily routine helped me gain comfortability and focus within myself. As the outline for Penn’s fall plans remain responsibly and strategically up in the air, let’s all embrace the moment we are currently in. Let’s make the most of the unique summer weeks upon us and use them to expand our personal horizons.

JESSICA GOODING is a rising College senior from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania studying History and English. Her email address is jgooding@sas.upenn.edu.

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