How my Masters helped my mental health.

Yes, you read the title correctly. My Masters has helped my mental health enormously- or certainly my eating habits anyway (my stress levels, on the other hand, are another matter entirely).

As overjoyed as I was to be given a place on my MA course, when I saw my timetable, I started to panic. Not because of the amount of work I’d be doing, or even that I’d have to get up at 5am to make my shorthand lesson (although I wasn’t exactly thrilled about that). Nope, I was panicking because I was wondering when I’d be able to exercise.

My relationship with food and struggle with disordered eating has been well documented on here, and it’s not something I’m embarrassed about: a lot of people, whatever their age, go through a similar experience at some point in their lives. But that didn’t stop the “shiiiiit I’m gonna get fat again” thoughts that cruelly started bobbing their way into my mind when I first saw that jam-packed timetable.

But you know what? Having no time has actually done me some good.

By not having the hours to sit around and think about food and numbers and weight (as I did on my undergrad), I’ve let my head heal a bit and it’s worked wonders.

A post came up the other day on my Timehop from when I was at the peak of my illness. I’d tweeted about forgetting to take my trainers to the gym, but had stayed anyway and walked around in my socks. At the time, I thought this was a funny anecdote, but looking back, it’s quite worrying. Not to mention that I must’ve looked completely deranged, pottering around a packed gym with nothing on my feet.

This year, though, it’s different. Forget the forgetting trainers fiasco: I don’t have the luxury of time or money to spend on a gym membership. In Liverpool, I would meticulously plan my week around gym classes, neglecting my uni work for fitness instead. But now I’m lucky if I can be arsed to go for a run by the time I get home from a hard day’s graft (and they don’t always go to plan either- you can read all about my last one here).

 

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Just before Christmas with some MA friends

 

And whilst I’ve tried to be sensible throughout the week, it’s too hard to be healthy all the time (especially when your boyfriend’s a self-confessed Revels addict).

Sure, this week my friends and I have been whinging because this course is turning our bodies to mush, and we’ve all redownloaded My Fitness Pal in a bid to take control again (and hastily scrapped it when it makes us feel guilty). But it hasn’t stopped us from indulging a bit (/a lot), which is normal when an unhealthy amount of stress is involved.

The last few months have forced me to accept that my life is different now, and other things have to take priority. I’m not going to mess my whole Masters up because I need a gym-fix. And I’m certainly not going to make myself miserable by not enjoying myself at the weekend. I’ve done far too much of that over the past few years, and while it’s not exactly ruined my memories of Liverpool, there have definitely been times when I’ve looked back and thought “it’s a shame I was so ill that I couldn’t have a good time”.

Am I completely comfortable with myself? I’d be lying if I said yes. But compared to two years ago, or even this time last yearI am so much happier. I might just be making excuses for myself because Creme Egg season is nearly upon us (Hallelujah), but I’m slowly coming to realise that the world won’t end if I eat a bit more than I probably should some days.

It’s all about balance. Which is why I had a little pot of celery today, swiftly followed by two biscuits.

Thanks for reading,

Soph x

 

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