If you're someone who consumes content on social media, you must be aware of the overused term 'self-care' that is almost breaking the internet. This isn't to say that self-care is bad--it is just the manipulation of the term for corporates to sell products that has led to people misunderstanding it. So what exactly is self-care? According to psychologists, self-care is the act of prioritising your own emotional, mental, and physical health. So as much as you enjoy having a 'spa day', you should keep in mind that you do NOT need to feel pressurised into spending a lot of money just because you saw an Instagram influencer do it and call it 'self-care'! After all, being mindful of your finances and curbing your impulse-spending habit can also be a form of self-care practices.
Because we live in a world that places a person's self-worth on productivity, we tend to sacrifice our own needs in order to chase that deadline or fit in just one more meeting. The end result? We end up feeling physically and emotionally burnt out, which ends up affecting our productivity, and soon enough we find ourself in a toxic cycle of low self-esteem and self-loathing. Self-care practices allows us to recognise and protect our individual needs, which leads to you maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself. This helps you be more productive, positive and energetic--which increases your self-confidence and self-esteem.
An important thing to remember about self-care is that you need to recognise areas of your life that need your attention and focus on improving them, instead of blindly following Instagram trends. So if buying that glitter face mask work Rs 4,000 is your form of self-care, go right ahead and do it! But if you're wondering how you can take care of yourself without breaking the bank, we've got some options that might work for you.
You must be thinking--Duh! If we weren't breathing we wouldn't be alive! But that's the whole point--we take something so important for granted, we don't realise that the solution to all our troubles sometimes is just paying attention to our breathing patterns. Practising simple breathing exercises every day can greatly help reduce stress, improve your moods, regulate your heartbeat, put you in a positive mood and improve your overall mental and physical health! You could even try meditation if you want to take it up a notch--just set aside 15-60 minutes a day to clear your mind and sit in silence. We promise you, it will change your life!
Remember how much you loved writing in your diary when you were younger? Well, turns out journalling can not only bring you the same amount of joy as an adult but also help you take stock of your emotions, making you feel lighter. Don't believe us? Try this the next time you're feeling overwhelmed: Grab a notebook and a pen (you can also do this on your computer, but that's not half as fun) and write down each and every emotion you are experiencing. The mere process of emptying out your scattered thoughts onto a paper will feel cathartic, which will end up making you feel calmer. In fact, maintaining a daily journal will also help you keep a log of your moods and this can help you keep track of your fluctuating emotions.
Women have been expected to play the part of caregivers and nurturers since the beginning of time, so much so that people think it is a biological trait. Owing to this, women are often made to feel guilty about putting their own needs above somebody else's, be it a partner, a family member or friend. But it's 2019, and it's time to leave such antiquated thinking in the past. It is not only healthy but IMPORTANT to recognise situations or people who drain you physically and emotionally and to teach yourself to say no to things that are not good for you.
Numerous studies have proven that social media has a terrible effect on our mental health. This is because most people take their obsession to look perfect online too far--leaving others feeling with feelings of inadequacy, which hampers their self-esteem. An important thing to remember about social media is that everybody is faking it. That celebrity with amazing clothes and perfect skin and hair? She didn't 'wake up like this, it took somebody hours to get her to look that way. However, when certain social media accounts are too triggering for you, the best thing to do is to unfollow such accounts! If it's a close friend and you're worried they might be offended by your actions, you can choose to mute them instead. In fact, to make sure your social media feed is a healthy space, you should follow accounts that are good for your mental health.
The maddening rush of our daily lives makes us forces as much as we can into a single day. Since the hours in a day are limited, most of us end up sacrificing our sleep instead. And according to medical experts, getting adequate sleep is directly related to your physical and mental well-being. So remember, if you're too busy to get at least 8 hours of sleep every day, you're doing something wrong. Re-work your daily schedule and trim off tasks that aren't as important. Because those extra hours at the office might win you brownie points in front of your boss, but it will have disastrous effects on your health in the long run.
Positivity has a huge role to play on our physical and mental well-being. But on particularly bad days, it can be hard to think of the good things that are going for us. After all, you can't force yourself to be positive when you're going through a tough time, right? So instead of 'thinking positive thoughts', try writing down three things you were grateful for that day, and do this every night before you go to bed. This exercise may not make your present worries evaporate into thin air, but it will make you appreciate what you already have and help you see the silver lining on that dark cloud over your head.
According to studies, there's a massive connection between being physically active and having stable mental health. Exercise is a great mood-uplifter because physical activity releases happy and calming hormones. Hate going to the gym? Worry not! Exercise doesn't always have to mean lifting weights or running on a treadmill for hours. Even a little bit of movement on a daily basis can uplift your mood. Set aside 30-45 minutes at least thrice a week to dancing, taking your dog out for a walk or even yoga!
We are always so focused on trying to finish tasks that need to be done, we forget to take some time to simply do things that we enjoy--even if that means spending an hour reading romance novels and eating popcorn. So no matter how busy you are, you should prioritise setting aside at least an hour every day where you can do whatever the hell you want! Because when you do things you enjoy, your brain releases feel-good hormones, which in turn elevate your mood.
One of the most important forms of self-care is treating yourself with love, respect and care. Some experts suggest using the 'self-parenting' technique every time you find ourself being overly-critical about yourself. First, admit your problems to yourself out loud, and then treat yourself with the same kindness you would do a child. Tell yourself that you tried your best and you'll do better next time. Buy yourself some ice cream. Do what it takes to make yourself feel better without treating yourself harshly. Practice this exercise for a week and notice the improvement not only in your overall mood but also your self-esteem!
A lot of times we think self-care means taking care of our body, so we focus on working out, skincare and healthy eating. While all of that is great, we need to give equal importance to our emotional well-being. Take regular stock of your emotions by maintaining a daily journal, talking to your friends and family and going to therapy if you need to.
Practising self-love and self-care isn't always as glamorous as what you see on social media. The most important thing to do is to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself by recognising and protecting our individual needs, and working on them!
Self-care is a very individualistic act, and your idea of self-care may completely differ from somebody else's! So focus on what makes YOU feel good. However, some things that *everyone* can do to take care of their physical, mental and emotional well being include exercising, getting enough sleep, spending time with your loved ones and focusing on your emotional well-being.
So remember, it doesn't matter what your form of self-care looks like, if it is important to you, you should make it a priority without feeling any guilt or shame!
POPxo is celebrating seven days of self-care and you're invited!