“You only defend what you love and value.”
My instructor Ronnie Carper likes to repeat and emphasize this at the start of every self-defense class. For many, this may include loved ones, morals, education, dreams, passions, or personal belongings. But sometimes we can forget that we ourselves matter, as well, and are worth protecting and caring for.
With midterm season descending upon the university, students can get carried away more than usual. I often remind myself that “life is hard.” We lead busy lives, and it can be difficult to find balance when you have to work shifts for a part-time job, maintain close ties with your social circle, and keep up with the tremendous amount of schoolwork. Life can be tough, but you can do it. You can be better. You can overcome.
Consequently, the importance of self-care comes into play. In order to perform these necessary tasks, one must have the physical and mental capacity to do so.
The first step is to step back. Take a moment to allow yourself to recharge and focus on your own health. It’s time to defend yourself from becoming overloaded with stress. A friend once told me “you are your own barrier.” Don’t refuse providing self-care for yourself. Rather than throwing another punch, it can be more effective to block off an attack to prevent further injuries. The notion to keep pushing past your limits can be tempting, but know that it’s okay to slow down and catch your breath.
I personally like to use physical activity as a way to de-stress. One of the best decisions I’ve made was joining the Oregon State University Tennis Club. Here I have found my niche and the community that I belong to. It’s a setting that I feel welcome and comfortable in, and the sweat and energy I obtain from playing the sport always makes me feel rejuvenated after every practice. I am most alive following every swing of my racket and strike of the ball, knowing that the power and control resides within me. Moreover, I have a strong connection with my teammates due to the mutual mindset of aspiring towards the progression of self-improvement. We are there to support and encourage each other. In the process, I have formed profound friendships, and this is especially evident during tournaments.
My fondest memories are at the Portland and Yakima tournaments we traveled to, and I recount heartfelt experiences of cheering each other on, cooking dinner together, and playing board and card games and laughing late into the night. Without even knowing it, these people contribute to my self-care; they are the ones who uplift and motivate me. In addition, not only does tennis elevate my mental and social health, but also my physical health. Staying active benefits my quality of sleep and strengthens me. Because practices are held at night, I’ve found that mixed feelings of liveliness and exhaustion enable me to fall asleep easier as well as maintain a routine sleep schedule. Another change is that my might and endurance have strengthened over time as a result of hitting and chasing after countless balls.
With all that said, I am beyond grateful for my tennis experience at OSU. However, the physical activity clubs here are not limited to only tennis. Many associations exist and range anywhere from Baseball Club to Triathlon Club to Kendo Club. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve acquired experience in these particular activities before; the clubs are meant to be recreational and open for athletes of all skill levels to attend. Furthermore, purchasing a Dixon membership offers classes such as yoga, Zumba, weight training, and more. Regular exercise could even be incorporated as simply as biking around campus or hiking at Bald Hill.
No matter where you find your outlet, though, I hope that, like me, you will experience the satisfying joys of alleviating stress, discovering a second home, and enhancing physical well-being. However, the hardest part is getting started. Email any clubs you’re interested in, or find out when and where they meet on their social media. Sign up for a Dixon membership. Step outside your room and combat the idleness. Commitment is attainable once you’ve jumped over that first hurdle, and the desire for recurring thrill and pleasure will urge you to keep going back.
It’s time. Time to strive to be the best version of ourselves. As much as it’s critical to push forward and fight until the very end, recovery can make for a successful battle. Be mindful and tend to your own spirits.
Photo courtesy of the OSU Tennis Club