How Self-Care Helped Me Find Myself Again

With everything that life throws at you, it's too easy to feel lost. In that moment, it may feel completely hopeless, but it's important to remember that those downs are not forever.

This series is a part of the Hindsight series. If you don't know what that is, here's a brief summary:

The Hindsight series consists of guest posts from various bloggers sharing their stories on Bloomly about any personal experience that they might have encountered that reflects personal growth, self-improvement, and/or struggles with mental health. The Hindsight series is about looking back on experiences that shaped who we are and have helped us grow, which we only see now with hindsight.

Learn more: About the Hindsight Series 
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Holly felt herself hit a low in her junior year of design school, feeling like she was piling too much onto her plate and suffering the consequences. Here's how self-care helped her find herself again.

The Cleveland Institute of Art, the school that I attend
After a long period of intense stress and a heavy workload, my junior year of design school left me feeling lost and uneasy. I felt myself questioning every decision I made, my worth, and my design skills overall. I felt as if I wasn’t growing like I wanted, and that I wasn’t growing as fast as others were around me. I worried about the little things, like how many iterations of a design I was presenting each week, if I was going to impress a client and if I was being original enough.

My anxiety played a crucial part in all of this fear and worrying. Fear is a strong feeling: fear of failure, fear of creative burnout and fear of not being good enough. Anxiety began to make the small things that are supposed to be easy more difficult. I struggled to even start new projects at school. All of the fears and anxiety would circle through my mind, making the anxiety crippling. But in the end, I knew I had to work through it because those projects still had a due date.

While all of this was going on, I felt myself hit a low. I procrastinated a lot and often didn’t want to go to class. I also often myself skipping some classes to get work done for other classes. I wasn’t eating well, or drinking enough water. I spent way too much money on fast food around my campus. I was constantly cancelling plans I had made. I could barely fall asleep at night, due to racing thoughts and anxiety. I felt like a walking version of a college student zombie. Because of this I got sick a lot, almost once every few months. At the end of my spring semester, I got hit with a nasty flu that caused me to lose my voice for two weeks, and my flu symptoms lasting over a month.

While trying to balance school, work, friends, my fiance and family, and finances, there just wasn’t enough time in a day for it all.

However, despite that overwhelming anxiety and the stress over attempting to do it all, I still held myself to high expectations. I have come to realize that they were probably too high, as I expected myself to excel above all of those things. So I continued to push myself, even looking for new job opportunities. I eventually came across an amazing opportunity for a full time designer job at a place near my school for the summer. I felt this overwhelming joy when I got the email for the interview. I remember almost having a panic attack in the office because I was so nervous. It was such a well known company, I didn’t want to screw it up. It was such a great opportunity.

I ended up getting the job and then it hit me… I couldn’t take it.

I had overloaded my schedule too much during the semester, and my gut told me I needed a less hectic summer. I started to feel overwhelmed and less excited about the job offer. Something just didn’t feel right. I had felt myself hit my breaking point, I stayed home from school that day too.

I remember sitting in my kitchen when I got the email, and my mom asked me what was wrong. Why wasn’t I excited? I began to weigh out the pros and cons. She offered some advice to me, saying that I’d get more great opportunities, and it’s okay to say no to this one. I knew that this was my last summer to enjoy myself and have more free time before I graduate.

All I wanted was to breathe again. To feel good and happy, and that truly takes time. So I turned it down, and I haven’t looked back since.

So, how did I dig myself out of that low? It essentially took the entire summer to recover mentally and physically. When summer break came around, I felt drained. I didn’t want to create anymore, or for awhile at least. I thought I would never get past this empty feeling. I felt nauseous of the idea of coming back to school in the fall. But how could I? I really started to evaluate the choices that I was making.

At last, I began to take better care of myself. I worked part time and took advantage of my free time.

It wasn’t easy, it takes a long time to develop a habit. I watched a lot of youtubers who had healthy lifestyles. I learned about meal prepping, and started trying out more recipes. I researched a lot about how diet affects your life.

My pup, Skye
Financially, I realized I had bought a lot of things over time that I didn’t need. I started cleaning out my closets and wardrobe. This helped me value the things I had and needed. I started to only make purchases that were necessary, and adopting a 3 day rule if I wanted something more. If I had been thinking about a purchase for more than 3 days, and had enough money to get it, I would (in moderation).

I began to take interests in new things like video game streaming and freelance design. I spent a lot of time at home with my family and my pup, Skye. My fiance and I took a trip to Virginia Beach to celebrate our engagement. I became closer with new friends.

I was eating better, drinking more water, and sleeping… finally. I made to do lists, used my calendar and felt motivated to get things done again. Even it was just things like call a client back or to fold my laundry.

Slowly… I began to find myself again.

I felt all of the wounds of the last semester start to heal. I think by taking the time to be myself, instead of overloading my schedule time and time again, it helped me reach my full potential.

I’m currently almost halfway through the fall semester of my senior year, I’m working on my senior thesis project. I feel like I’m right where I am supposed to be. Everything feels right, and I’m happy.

Remember to take some time for yourself, it is important. Sometimes you have to get lost to find yourself all over again, enjoy the journey.

How Self-Care Helped Me Find Myself Again
Holly Baumgartl
About the Author: Holly Baumgartl 
Holly is a Graphic Designer. She became a designer at the age of 16 which led her to The Cleveland Institute of Art to complete her BFA in Graphic Design, graduating in 2018. Holly has worked professionally as an in-house designer, freelance designer and is currently dabbling in blogging. Holly spends her days diving into the world of design, being a dog mom to her Boston Terrier, Skye, and is always eating too much ice cream.

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