For countless years, I have convinced myself to value the importance of achievements gained from good grades at school, reaching goals and targets at work, and meeting expectations that are at times excessive. I became too fearful of failures and mistakes, yearning to please everyone. I became obsessively cognizant of people’s perceptions of me, which has led me to spread myself so thinly even when I had nothing else to give. I became too busy grinding at the expense of being a well-rounded human being.
Perplexingly, just few months ago, while I was in midst of what seemed like a compassion fatigue, a colleague challenged me to REST. He bravely picked up the gauntlet and expressed the importance of a mindful way of taking time to pay attention to one’s self, disapproving of my usual drive to reach heights without exercising self-care. He emphasized the necessity to replenish one’s self with soulful energy rather than draining away what is left of you. It was as if he was reading through me, and committed to save me from operating from a probable mental fog. Because, apparently I have been displaying certain incapability to prevent myself from pouring from an empty cup.
For weeks I was enthused to reflect on ways to genuinely exercise self-care. Will a vacation guarantee a restful escape? Or is a spa date good enough? Perhaps a staycation that involves binge-watching or book reading? How do you deal with work circumstances that demands for connectivity disregarding the purpose of out-of-office responses? What if you simply do not have the opportunity to take care of yourself because you are wired to juggle around the clock? How do you put yourself first when you have a lot of people depending on you?
It is challenging to define much more practice real self-care. After all, it is a different experience for every individual, context and setting. But if there is something we can be certain of, it is that self-care is never an act of selfishness. It is not self-indulgence but a way of self-preservation. And it should be considered as a priority and necessity, not a privilege nor luxury.
Exercising self-care indeed is easier said than done. Some days, you are convinced to let yourself reign. But sometimes, you bounce back – consciously or unconsciously– to an unhealthy kind of martyrdom. We all experience this.
My understanding and commitment to make self-care a habit is still a work-in-progress as well. But to safeguard myself from falling into yet another ‘what if’ trap, I have decided to list ways to remind me of why being nice to yourself as you are to other people is key towards achieving a healthier kind of selflessness.
- Acknowledge Yourself.
You deserve to celebrate yourself, to feel good about your successes and learnings from your letdowns. Recognize and appreciate yourself as a human being capable of doing whatever you put your mind to. Remember that your self-worth is not defined by others, but by yourself.
Regularly check-in with your emotions. Bear in mind that you are not blameworthy of the emotions that you feel, only the actions you take as a response.
If situation at work becomes difficult, change your environment. It can be as simple as re-organizing your work station. Or talking to a mentor to build up your motivation barometer.
Quitting your job isn’t always a practical and logical solution. Instead take a leave. Spend time with your family and friends. Spend time with yourself somewhere free from distractions.
- Nourish to Flourish
Have a self-date! Treat yourself with a cup of tea, or take a hike.
Be emotionally rested. Close your eyes, and appreciate the time you have given yourself.
Fuel your body. Eat Well. Sleep Well. Exercise. Gain physical strength.
Go outside. Go cloud watching. Let your psychological state be at peace with your surroundings.
- Take your Power Back
Once in a while, you will fall on your face. But such circumstance is never permanent.
Never hesitate to roll up your sleeves to take your power back.
Get out of your comfort zone. Learn new things. Experience new things.
Jump off the cliff if you must, and never look back only to revisit regrets.
Forgive and let go.
Celebrate all kinds of wins. Small or big, you deserve them.
Value right actions over right results.
- Be Genuine
Being true to yourself will not make it to the cliché hall of fame for nothing.
Choose and build a life you do not need to regularly escape from, whilst remaining grounded.
Cut the negative energy cord from your life, and nurture all kinds of sources for positivity.
Yes, you are capable of taking care of yourself.