In our society, and in most cultures around the world, women have been the primary caregivers. They toil day and night to make sure that everyone around them is looked after. Women, unfortunately, are also twice as likely as men to suffer from depression and stress related diseases. Their biological makeup and the monotonous and thankless nature of their work are probably the main contributing factors.
I too am among those women who put family before themselves, and get stressed easily about everything. From my own experience, I wish to share a few self care tips that have kept me together when everything around me seemed to be falling apart.
You have to understand - it's important to take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of those around you. A moping, unhappy and unhealthy woman cannot bring cheer to others. You need to recharge your own batteries so that you can fill in everyone else's. It's not being selfish. And don't let anyone have you believe so. It's only when we love ourselves truly are we able to love others wholly. You're doing everyone a favour by looking after yourself.
So here are my few self care tips for all my girlfriends out there. As a disclaimer, while this article is aimed mainly at women, it applies to anyone who is the primary caregiver in a domestic setting.
1. Try and sleep at least 6-7 hours a night.
Trust me I know what I'm talking about. There is nothing more important than a good night's sleep. As a person who is a chronic insomniac, I value my sleep more than anything. Lack of sleep predisposes you to all sorts of anxiety disorders, eating disorders, physical, emotional and mental fatigue. Try and catch those 40 winks. They ensure the start of a healthy being.
2. Eat well
Don't skip your meals. Ever. Crash diets never did anyone any good. Learn to make some quick nutritious meals so that you don't end up eating junk or missing your own while you are busy taking care of everyone else. You owe yourself that much at least. The multivitamin pills cannot make up for lost meals.
3. Get up. Dress up. And show up. NO MATTER WHAT!
There are times in our lives when we are truly grieving. The times when we would rather stay locked inside our room and not see anyone in the world. Those are the times when you must go out. It peps you up instantly. The ritual of taking a nice warm bath, and dressing up to look good will immediately make you feel better. Go to work. Or go out anywhere. Just 15 minutes of sunshine will make you feel happier. Also, it will distract you from whatever negative thoughts that are surrounding you.
4. Stop underestimating yourself
I have, time and again, said this- there is no such thing as a weak woman. It is only when you face it do you realise how much strength you have. Every time you overcome what you thought was impossible, you will give your self image a boost. So don't ever give up thinking you can't do it or aren't good enough.
5. Make time for your friends
True friends are one of life's biggest treasures. They remind you of your inner beauty and strength when you think you have nothing left. They bring laughter, and cheer in life. And they will even slap you hard and bring you back to reality when you start getting lost. So don't lose touch. They are important.
6. Say what you feel
No point keeping it in. It will only make you more frustrated and you will burst one day. Better to say it the way it is.
7. Stay quiet when you are angry
Wait. Let it go. It will save you a lot of regret. Go back and clear it up when you are cool. Most things seem better the moment you cool down.
8. Switch off your phone, and TV and laptop - move your butt
The modern smartphone, while a very useful device, uses too much of our mental bandwidth. Switch it off. Talk to people face to face. Go out for a walk. Listen to the birds chirping. The lesser your screen time, the happier you will be. Get moving. Nothing works better than exercise as a stress buster.
9. Go to the salon. Often.
I don't know one single woman who wouldn't love to feel beautiful and be complimented. Please, please go to the salon and get all the beauty treatments you want to get done. We have but only one life.
10. Lower the bar
The quest for perfection is a sure shot way to lead a miserable life. Take it easy on yourself and those around you. Life will be so much better.
11. Do the things you love to do
Every day, keep 15 minutes aside for yourself. Read a book, dance to Shakira, bake that cake, go out shopping. Make sure you take out time to do things that YOU love, not what others want you to.
12. Shut out the people who talk negative stuff about you
You don't have to take the bullshit. Ek kaan se suno, doosre se bahar. Better still, don't listen. Treat yourself with compassion. Respect yourself. And don't let anyone take it away from you.
13. Don't ignore your own illnesses
Get a massage for that aching back, visit the dentist, get your cold treated. Take rest if needed.
14. Invest in some good lingerie
Ok, so good lingerie can be really really expensive. But it's worth the money. It makes you feel so good about yourself. And by good, I also mean appropriate. Leave the racy stuff for the bedroom. Buy some well fitting, full coverage seamless brassieres for the workplace. What you wear on the outside may bring you respect, but what you wear under it is a reflection of your own self respect.
15. Seek help whenever you begin to feel lost
It may be a spiritual guru, a friend or a doctor. Make sure you get help if you feel like it
16. Have faith
In God, in yourself and in humanity. Pray pray pray. Faith works wonders.
Last but not the least, make sure you cuddle. There are not enough hugs and cuddles in the world. So just give one and get one in return. Especially from little babies. And your loving pets. Who can feel sad when you have so much cuteness around?