Sarah Hussain is a medical student, writer and aspiring photographer who has been a Fight for Peace member for around three years, and is now also a member of the Young Creatives project. In her most recent blog, she delves into the importance of paying attention to our mind and body, while trying to navigate our often fast-paced lives. 

As someone with various health difficulties it is a constant battle of knowing whether the next step I want to take is going to do harm or good to me. In my world I always thought, ‘you’ll never know if you never try’. This is true, to an extent. You can give it a shot and take on the opportunity, but don’t forget to listen to your body. 

We tend to listen to our thoughts and what’s on our minds rather than the rest of our body. It is estimated that on average, humans have between 60,000-80,000 thoughts per day. Tuning in with your body can be difficult when your mind is constantly processing one thought after the next. 

There are moments when our mind tells us to keep going, do more, push harder. But our bodies are saying, ‘I’m so exhausted’. One thing I’ve learnt from my experience is, if you don’t accommodate your body, your body will accommodate you. 

For example, if someone is dizzy and they don’t sit down or rest and the body needs that, they may collapse. But this is your body accommodating for you. So, your blood flow can go back to normal when you are flat on the ground. This is a more extreme example, but it happens in more daily activities too. 

We’ve all been there with a close deadline or an exam the next day, where you try to study and work even past midnight and then somehow fall asleep on the desk. The body would have signalled that we needed to sleep but due to failure of fulfilling our needs, you will fall asleep in places you haven’t planned to. 

We have all heard the idea that ‘life begins at the end of your comfort zone’. Is this statement completely true? Does pressure and stress make us better at what we do? 

Ultimately there are three states we can be in. The comfort zone, the stretch zone and the danger zone. And where we don’t want to end up is the danger zone, as that is usually when someone reaches burnout, which can be a huge detriment to our physical and mental wellbeing. It’s inevitable that we will end up in that position sometimes. But in order to not be here all the time, we need to learn to be aware of our own boundaries. 

Not your friend’s boundaries, not your parents’ boundaries but your own personal limits. 

For me running is a way that I channel my emotions, but I’ve had to learn to assess my health on a day-to-day basis to understand if this run is going to benefit me at this moment or not. A lot of times when we want to succeed in our goal, we feel a need to do it as fast as possible, so we finish the race quicker. 

Perhaps a perspective to consider taking could be ‘success isn’t something you can measure and it’s not a race to win’. This is a quote which resonates with me, from the book ‘The Midnight Library’ by Matt Haig. 

This way you are more content during the journey of working towards your goals and have an open mind to life, where you never consider yourself to be a failure but as always growing and progressing; whilst learning to love who you already are at this moment and what you have right now. 

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