Mental Health

Self-Care: Roads vs. Bridges

How often do bridges need repair?

Not often, right? If bridges were constantly worked on, we would start to wonder about how structurally sound they were. They are built by engineers to practically last a lifetime for numerous reasons. First of all, repairing a bridge costs money both in materials and in the process to reach certain areas. Secondly, closing bridges tends to cause an enormous traffic backup, as well as the aforementioned discomfort surrounding their safety. Yet, when was the last time you heard of a bridge collapsing? Not often at all.

What about roads?

If I asked you how often you had to see a pothole filled in, or a new sidewalk added, or a lane repaved, I bet you could say it definitely occurred on your last road trip MULTIPLE times. Often, roads are not purposefully built to wear away so easily. I am sure that transportation workers do not like having to repeatedly fill a pot hole. Yet, it happens ALL THE TIME!

So what is the difference?

Why do bridges last longer than roads? Well, I am afraid that this is where my metaphor ends. I am not,sadly, an engineer, so that explanation is a bit above my pay grade. However, I do have a plethora of experience when in comes to surviving college classes and social events and full time jobs, sometimes all at once. These situations can add to and sometimes multiply any insecurities, anxiety, depression, or other struggles we already know we have. And before you know it, you’re falling apart. Self-care is your pathway to avoid the collapse.

As much as you don’t want to admit it, you are not a bridge.

It can be easy to think that you don’t need self-care time to repair yourself. If everyone around you is commenting that you’re always happy or strong or involved or positive, it’s hard to say you need to step away. It’s so easy to believe them. Let’s face it- we all want to be able to carry our own burdens and everyone else’s without missing a beat. You want to be a bridge. You want people to keep trusting you without having to wonder if you can take it.

We’re all roads here!

Here’s the honesty of it, though- even super heroes need a break. You can’t carry the weight of the world and never take a trip to see the chiropractor. You’re going to break your back. Every now and then, no matter how extroverted or compassionate we are, we all need to put ourselves first.

Fix your pot holes.

Many people think that self-care is expensive, selfish, and unnecessary. I think by now you’re probably realizing that you DO need that nap or that long hot shower (admit it- you’ve been wishing for it this whole time). But self-care doesn’t have to cost you money or friendships either. Remember, you’re a road- you can be rejuvenated in a short amount of time without closing a whole commuting path. You just need some cement to fill your holes. Some people’s self-care is a week long vacation or a manicure or a shopping trip. If those are your outlets, you’re going to need a bank account to support them. But those are not your only options!

Quick and easy ways to freshen up your road

One of the quickest and simplest ways to reset yourself is to take some alone time. For introverts, finding ways to enjoy alone time isn’t too difficult. For extroverts, alone time may not even be the answer. It’s okay to recover around people, just make sure it’s in a healthy and positive environment.

A great way to restore some peace in your life as an extrovert is to plan an event you enjoy with those you trust. This isn’t an “Everyone I know from high school” kind of excursion. Get a few of your best friends together and go out or see a movie or cook dinner together. Make some time to enjoy what you love with who you love (even if you’re an introvert, you can totally do this too!).

Get outside! Fresh air is good for both your physical body and your soul. If you’re into the outdoors, take a hike or ride a bike trail. If you’re not so inclined to head out, find a park close by or an outdoor festival. When you’re short on time and just want to clear your head, a quick walk around will help you feel more relaxed!

Finally, be open, be honest, be real. If a close friend asks if you’re okay and you want to talk, don’t just shrug it off with an “I’m fine”. If you feel like going back to a counselor you used to see, go. Never be ashamed to take control of the repairs you need.

Remember, no one is a bridge. We all get a few potholes sometimes!


Graduate Student, Former Educator, Self-Care Enthusiast, "Multipotentialite", INFP.