Words by Joanna Dine-Hart
This month we wanted to look at something different, less tangible per say. The message of sustainability is often confused with just being environmentally friendly however, it is so much more.
Sustainability can be about supporting each other, building up businesses and raising awareness on climate change. So, one of the key messages of sustainability is around empowerment - empowering yourself and those around you to make change and do something great.
To really get this message across we decided to make this month's survival guides all things positivity - body, mind and social.
Being body positive is a key topic that affects us all in different ways. You may avoid the mirror every day or purposely find an excuse to look at yourself. Either is okay! Everyone has a part of their body they would like to change, however the key to body-positivity is that you acknowledge these flaws and become comfortable with them.
Another key is to have a positive mindset. This means that you look for the good things instead of focusing on the bad ones - which can be especially difficult given the current situation. The bottom line is that you keep trying to look forward to your future and keep a positive outlook on life. So, being positive mentally is about being in a place where you feel comfortable and happy to tackle the challenges that life may bring.
Lastly, strive to be in a positive position socially. Now, this does not mean to have the most friends or people who like you. Instead, it is both about having people around you who make you feel happy and supported and doing activities just for yourself because you enjoy them.
More so now than ever, we are all focused on trying to stay positive - to do something that brings a smile to someone else's face or to our own. But it is hard and the journey to being positive is long and sometimes can never be fully achieved.
So, we want to give you some tips to help you be more positive this month!
Keep a log of nice things
This idea was mentioned by Laura Flowers, our Academic Executive and we love it. Whether it is by creating a folder in your emails, a sticky note board or a journal, keep track of the small and nice things you or someone else does – from smiling at a stranger to receiving a nice email. This can be daily or how ever often something happens. But write them out or store them away and when you’re having a bad day you can look through them and remember a time something nice happened.
Three positives in the mirror
This is a trick we picked up from a film - seems silly but it can work! We spend a lot of time avoiding the mirror or only seeing the “bad bits”. So, start small: try to look at yourself and find at least 3 things you like. This can be ANYTHING, such as the shape of your eyes, your laugh, a personality trait or really loving a specific part of your body. Tell yourself that you like those things about yourself and, in time, start to find more.
Eventually, all those little bits you felt more insecure about will become tiny, and you might even find you don’t notice them anymore. This act of self-love can be incredible and hopefully you will all realise you are beautiful; you are powerful and no one else will ever be you.
Dance around and be silly
Now, this tip came from one of the Students’ Union staff members and we think it is hilarious but effective! Take some time to just be silly – put on your favourite song in the morning and jam out to it. As long as you dance, sing and make yourself happy – you might find your day is a little nicer this way.
Getting rid of toxicity
This is a big one and it is never easy.
While we have this time to self-reflect and learn about ourselves it is important to think about what makes us happy, but also what brings us down - whether that is people or general day to day activities. That friend you defend to the end of the Earth - do they do the same for you? Does your partner make comments that make you overthink? Even your family and the interactions you have with them. So, take the time to evaluate the relationships you have with both the people around you and your activities. If they’re not making your happy, maybe it’s time to let them go.
Maybe you need to speak up and make a change, tell that person you hate being called ‘shorty’ or ‘werido’. People forget that saying ‘no offense’ or ‘in a nice way’ doesn't make it less upsetting. So, make that point, tell them how you feel. Still, in some cases, you might need more support.
At DMU and DSU there is support readily available to help you get rid of toxicity because you are worth more. Feel free to contact the Mandala Project at firstname.lastname@example.org or our Advice and Wellbeing Team at email@example.com
Wake up and smile
Another little tip we heard about is waking up in the morning and trying to smile every day. Apparently doing this puts you in a good mood for the rest of the day and that’s never a bad thing!
Asking for help
Self-care and being positive is more than just a face mask on the weekend or a call with friends. It's also about asking for help and support when you need it. If you’re struggling, asking someone for help only makes you a stronger person. It shows that you're not scared to be vulnerable and will make you more resilient. Asking for professional help also shows so much strength, our problems can’t always be fixed with a bubble bath or exercise, sometimes they’re deeper and asking for that help will help prove to yourself that you are strong, and you have the control to make your life better.
Our Advice and Wellbeing Team are available if you ever feel like you need support.
Finding a hobby
We spoke about being positive socially, this doesn’t just relate to friends and family but what you do for yourself. Take some time to focus on the hobbies you have or would like to start. Whether it’s learning a new language or picking up an old skill, do something just for yourself and spend some social time with just you.
Wear what makes you happy
If you want to wear joggers all week, do it! If you want to dress up smart for work just to feel good, do it! And if you want to put on your party clothes on a random night for yourself and no one else, do it!
Wear what makes you feel good and empowered and try not to worry about other people commenting - wear confidently the clothes you feel happy in, the rest is just noise.
Take some time out and think about yourself.
Is there anything you want to do that you’ve been too scared of in the past? A new career, master's degree or even trying a different hair colour? Reflect on your personality, your life and realise how amazing you are and everything you have and can achieve.
But also, take some time to think about anything you want to change - spend more quality time with people you care about, learn and appreciate more about yourself or maybe put into action a new skill you have learnt.
Get to know you before life gets in the way again.
Appreciate the small things
Finally, try to appreciate the small things in life.
Look out the window or go for a walk and just take in your surroundings - the breeze, the trees, the wildlife. Look around your home and appreciate all the memories it holds and appreciate those around you that don’t get enough credit.
But, most importantly, appreciate yourself. You get through every day and your body and mind go through so much, take that minute to appreciate them and thank yourself for being awesome.
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