Practising self care and why it's important

Give the world the best of you rather than what is left of you.

In Summary

• There are three main facets: mental, emotional and physical.

Image: STAR ILLUSTRATED

Perhaps you have seen self-care posts doing the rounds on social media or maybe you overheard someone talk about it and are wondering; what is all this about? For those of you who are not millennials, self-care has most likely never been in your vocabulary.

It is time you are well acquainted with this concept,as it is something we all need to incorporate into our daily lives.

During Sunday Mass, our priest mentioned that Kenya is number five on the list of most depressed African countries—beating out South Africa and Nigeria, of course. It’s no shock…the cases of mental illnesses and sadly, suicide as a result, have only increased in the recent years.

 

It istrue; these may not be the best of days in Kenya. Business is not too great, corruption abounds… our moral fabric has collapsed as our President so aptly put it, and we take to twitter and Facebook to make light of our grim situations. That strategy is just not enough or healthy, in all honesty.

This is where self-care comes in. At the end of the day, we are the only ones responsible for ourselves and making sure we can cope with the stressful, difficult circumstances and overwhelming lives we sometimes have. Self-care comes in to help us step back from all these negative things, take a breath and do something we enjoy that will help us enrich and replenish ourselves.

I had an enlightening conversation the other day with a friend. He explained how in life, you are usually going to face problems but life will still move on. It is not going to wait for you. The only thing you can do is pick up your wounds and go along with it. However, as you are doing this, you have to remember to stop occasionally and smell the roses. For those who do not get the Sopranos reference, it basically means that even when life is trying and not too pleasant (as is wont to be the case if you’re running the mafia), one should always take a minute to enjoy and appreciate the little things, the things we often overlook. Such a small act can rearrange your priorities and make it clear what is important to you in your life.

To put these little things in one word: self-care. The consistent small actions you take in an effort to stop and smell the roses.

There are three main facets: mental, emotional and physical.

Let us begin with mental or intellectual self-care. One simple way is turning your phone off. Make it a habit to go ‘unplugged’ for at least 24 hours straight every week. You could also read a new book or re-read your favourite book. If you are crafty, you could do a DIY(do-it-yourself) project. Preferably, one that you enjoy and has little similarity to your daily job. Help your kid out with building that wind vane or windsock for their school assignment. Finally make that artsy, Pinterest-like wooden table that you have been eyeing whenever you go to that restaurant in Westlands.

Next is physical self-care. As you will only ever have one body that you get to live in, you might as well take care of it. You could start by doing any sort of exercise. Hike, gym or take a walk around the neighbourhood. If you are not up for leaving the house, pick out your favourite tune and get down in your bedroom. If you are too overwhelmed for those options, just taking a slightly longer-than-usual shower or bath counts as your daily dose of self-care.

 

Emotional self-care would be the most important in my opinion. We tend to overlook this;it might be because of our culture. We are predisposed to being hardened and rarely indulging in emotional matters. Do not worry though, there is a number of things you can do to revive take care of the emotional part of you. One effective way is praying or meditating, whichever works for you.

Yoga is a good way to take care of yourself both emotionally and physically as it encompasses meditation and challenging body-movements. Writing can help you express your inner feelings, especially in a journal or diary. It does not have to be complex; you could simply begin by jotting down the things you are grateful for on that particular day.

There is also an emerging part of self-care: social self-care, although I would like to think that is optional. Why? We are naturally social creatures but in the case of introverts, sometimes you just do not want to associate with other people. That is your mode of self-care, stepping away from crowds and company and enjoying your solitude. For others, it is not. They need to connect with other people. This could be spending time with family or having a coffee and an uplifting conversation with a friend.

Whatever your self-care is, keep doing it and don’t forget to smell the roses.