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If not YOU, then who?

Do you observe enough? Have you seen your mother running all over the house, fulfilling various needs of the family? I have and there is only one thing I could say to my mother (after a ‘thank you’, obviously!) In order to take care of her family, she REALLY needs to take care of herself first.

The pandemic has made it clearer how much time people spend engrossed in their made-up worlds, forgetting all about their surroundings and most of all themselves. Our jobs have become so important to us that we forget to work on ourselves.

As sweet as the idea of someone else taking care of you sounds, the only person really by your side from the beginning to the end is YOU, and you need to be able to prioritize yourself, take care of yourself guilt-free. Because if you are not going to give yourself the love, the respect, and the care it needs, how do you expect other people to do it?

There is no shame in keeping yourself first!

We as humans, learn and improve a little each day till we die. Many people confuse Self-care with Self-improvement. People think if they get up at 5 AM and go running, they will be able to fix their habit of lazing/procrastinating, something that they don’t like. To be honest, it doesn’t work that way. It certainly is a good start but, it isn’t everything. When you expect some returns, i.e., major shifts in your personality, skills, and talent, from the work you put in for your self-improvement, it is important to know that you cannot achieve that with a few sprints because self-care is a marathon - something that requires ongoing practice and commitment. Self-care is not making yourself feel better temporarily. So, NO, it’s NOT a way of distracting/numbing yourself with the help of agents like alcohol. When you take care of yourself properly, you don’t get up feeling worse than when you started. You feel more alive than numb.

Self-Care is the practice of health care one does individually. It includes taking care of your emotional, physical, psychological, and social well-being. It helps you to build a healthy relationship with yourself, and accept and love yourself more. If you cannot love yourself, how do you expect to spread love to others?

"Oh my god, she is SO selfish!" How many times have you heard someone say this in a bad way? Why does prioritizing oneself get us labeled as ‘selfish’? Why have we made self-care sound selfish? Unless it is causing someone else any harm, self-care is normal, beautiful, and necessary!

“Self-care is never a selfish act - it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to our true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.” ― Parker Palmer

I know I have days where I feel like I don’t understand myself or I don’t love myself, but that is when Self-Care comes in. Taking care of yourself makes you accept the real YOU and then helps you feel better by improving those things. You cannot improve by getting rid of the things you hate. You have to acknowledge those parts that you don’t like, get to know yourself better, love yourself (along with the things you think are flaws) and start prioritizing, keeping yourself first.

I have always been a little conscious about my weight and never really accepted that part of myself. I always criticized myself for being inconsistent and somewhere lost myself in the action. At one point, whenever I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t see anything but the parts I disliked about myself, my body.

This year has taken a physical and mental toll on everyone but it has also made us realize what is truly essential. I personally have seen a big change in my mindset, just because I started seeing what really matters; ME. I had stopped seeing myself as a person and more as a task to be completed or a broken thing to be fixed. That didn’t change easily, but I tried keeping myself first in situations I would have never imagined. Eventually, I started eating healthier, waking up a little early, going for long walks, listening to more music, reading, cooking for myself (this helped a lot), and doing other activities in little amounts.

I also realized that whenever I go more than 4-5 days without socializing (not the social media socializing duh) with my friends, I start feeling low. So I started making time for them and ultimately making time for myself. Now I meet them at least twice a week and keep one day open for spontaneous plans like grabbing some ice cream at an odd hour (kidding, there is no wrong time to have ice cream) or going for drives with loud music and sweet dance moves. Find what form of caring works for you, it can be anything and it can be for as long as you want.

If you have lost yourself somewhere in this crowded flea market we call our world, start your journey of finding who you are and loving yourself whole-heartedly this 24th July, celebrated as the International Self-Care Day. Don’t think of this day as a one-time thing, you won’t see the change you want instantly. One day is not enough to take care of your

beginning of a lifelong romance." You don’t need to take out a lot of time from your busy schedule or spend a fortune on any activities. You take a shower every day to keep your body clean, you eat food every day to maintain a healthy lifestyle, then why can’t you do one activity a day to keep your mind healthy? Self-Care is not an indulgence or a luxury, it is a necessity. The approach might be different for you and me, but Self-care is for EVERYONE.

It’s all about the little things!

There are so many Self-care steps you can effortlessly start taking in a day and add to your mini Me-time, for your good. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Your body needs to rest, recover and recharge, so take that nap you were avoiding!

  • Eat & drink well. Stay hydrated and consume healthier food, but don’t be shy to indulge yourself with a slice of pizza or that bowl of pasta once in a while!

  • We always praise and appreciate others, stand in front of a mirror 5 minutes a day and compliment yourself. Start journaling, write about what you feel, what you don’t feel, and even what you want to feel some day.

  • Lock your gadgets for an hour! Keep all the phones, laptops of the house locked for an hour, detach yourself from the world and talk to yourself, discover yourself. Sit in silence, let your mind and body be on the same page.

  • 10 minutes of meditation helps you stay calm and composed. There is no wrong time to sit and let all your thoughts fade away!

  • Sometimes, a walk is all you need. Go around the block or to a garden for 20 minutes, soak in the beauty of nature and clear your head.

  • Cry! Play that emotional movie, remember all the moments of your week when you felt like crying but didn’t! Enjoy that glow after taking a dip in that river of tears!

  • Pick up that book and read it with full concentration (no notification sounds should distract you!) even if it is for 15 minutes.

  • Declutter your wardrobe, work-station, or your room. Your surroundings affect your mind, so the cleaner everything around you, the clearer your mind feels. More room for possibilities!

  • Learn a new language or an instrument. Give those 30 minutes, stimulate your mind.

  • Practice any art form. Be it dancing it out, or writing poems, or drawing, painting, listening, and discovering different music, ANYTHING.

  • Talk to your family, meet your friends, socialize. This helps you to feel less distant from the world and also strengthens your hippocampus. (a complex part of the brain responsible for emotional and long-term memory processing)

  • Laugh. Watch that favorite episode of Friends or that stand-up comedy clip. Read comics, jokes, or reminisce about some funny incidents.

  • Go on a date with yourself! Start with a relaxing bath/hot shower. Take care of your body, moisturize your skin. Get that slice of cheesecake you were craving! Or cook something for yourself. Buy yourself some flowers, dress to impress yourself! Choose a movie that makes you smile, have a glass of wine, relax and give yourself the love you give others!

Self-care is not something you have to be worthy of. So stop waiting to be deserving and take these small steps on the path to self-discovery and self-love!

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