It has been more than a year since Covid19 hit South African shores. And here we are, wearing masks, sanitising and keeping our distance from others. Add to this all the usual stresses you may experience like work or financial stress, relationships, kids and school obligations… you may be starting to feel like you’re at your rope’s end. How are you coping? Are you remembering to take good care of yourself so that you will be able to take care of your loved ones?
To understand exactly what selfcare is, it is important to understand what it is not. It is not selfish and it is not about indulgence. Selfcare is all about adopting healthy habits in order to take care of your body, mind and soul. It’s about spending time with yourself, doing what you love.
Who even has time for this, you ask. It’s crucial that you understand that you need to be a priority in your life. Not third, or second, but your very first. This doesn’t mean that your partner or your children or your job will suffer. It simply means that you need to fill your tank with fuel so that you are able to fill all the other roles you may have. Balance, as is so often the case, is at play here. Spending 90% of your day on your own needs every day will only leave you with 10% of your time available for other obligations. This will obviously throw the balance off, important things will not get done and you will most likely be perceived as selfish and/or a lazy bum.
When I think of selfcare, I’m reminded of the cabin crew on an airplane, instructing parents to secure their own oxygen masks before that of their children, in case of cabin depressurisation. In the same way, we need to take care of our personal needs first.
Let’s look at a few examples of healthy selfcare habits.
Hobbies and exploring personal interests are always a good start. If you love doing something, make time for it. Set aside an hour or two per week to work on a craft project, to garden, golf or learn a skill you are curious about. Take a class, watch a DIY video and get cracking. Just put it in your diary and do it. It can even be reading a book you’ve had on your nightstand for a while.
Exercise does not have to be a burden. If you’re not into cardio or going to the gym, simply go for a walk. Move your body the way it was designed to. And if you love music or listening to podcasts or audio books, you can even combine the two. Exercise has so many benefits, we’re sure you’ve heard it all. Again, schedule the best time for you to take 30 minutes or so to be active and just do it.
Reflecting and journaling is something not many people talk about. It is probably the best habit to aid mental health and wellbeing. To reflect and journal means that you become quiet and calm and allow your thoughts to spill out on paper. You don’t have to analyse or judge anything. Think about your actions, reactions and thoughts and how you would prefer to do better next time. You can also praise yourself for wins, motivate yourself for tasks ahead or simply visualise yourself as the best version of you. You can even write about a conflict you are experiencing and try to make sense of it by writing out both sides. We recommend keeping a journal. This can be a little notebook for you to jot down your daily thoughts, aspirations, wishes, accomplishments and things you are grateful for. Journaling has long been prescribed by counselors and psychologists. It can help you overcome challenges, cope with overwhelming emotions, stay focussed, keep on track with goals and generally, we find that it helps quiet the mind and form tangible thoughts – almost like making proper sentences from all the disjointed words and phrases running through the mind.
If you’re interested in taking up journaling, get your free copy of the journal that helped Kareema overcome stress and trauma and essentially, take back her life.
More selfcare options for you to explore
- More sleep, less screen time
- Spend more quality, recreational time with loved ones
- Eat nutritious food
- Look for opportunities to laugh regularly
- Go ahead, pamper yourself now and then
Like any new habit, it takes time to settle into it and make it a way of life. Give yourself a lot of time and don’t be too hard on yourself. The one most valuable tip I can give you is to start doing the things the person you want to be would do. Before you know it, you will look back over time and notice that you have become that person.