Are you Taking Care of Yourself?

A healthy you leads to a healthy society, so strive for balance within work-life and family relationships.

Self-care in my opinion is the least explored topic for the human race and particularly the Pakistani nation. Amongst the educated and self-aware class of society, self-care is understood as going to the gym, eating healthy, or taking a trip to the Alps. But self-care is much more than that and I feel that we neglect many aspects and possibilities of taking care of ourselves that can enable free and functioning lives. We all have lives with their unique set of challenges and many things are out of our control but we have a right towards our mind, body, and soul and so how many of you take care of yourself?

First comes physical self-care which includes eating regularly and healthily. It includes exercise, getting regular medical care for prevention, and taking time off when sick. Mixing fun physical activities like dancing, swimming, walking, running, playing sports, singing, getting enough sleep, and regulating our nervous systems by making time away from telephones, email, and the Internet. Then comes psychological self-care which includes therapy or making time for self-reflection.

Do you notice your inner experience which is listening to your thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and feelings, If you can’t afford therapy, write in a journal or read about mental health care. We need to explore things we are not an expert at or in charge of which essentially means taking a back seat. We need to mindfully attend to minimizing stress in our lives. When was the last time you engaged your intelligence in a new area, e.g., going to an art show, sports event, or theatre? Psychological health also comes from changing attitudes. Be curious and say no to extra responsibilities sometimes. Emotional self-care is as crucial to our well-being as physical and psychological well-being. Spend time with others whose company you enjoy and make an effort to stay in contact with important people in your life. You also need to give affirmations to yourself and praise and validate any small or big effort you make.

I think learning how to love yourself is the biggest challenge that you face as so many critical voices outside of you come in the way. Re-reading favorite books or re-watching favorite movies, pursuing comforting activities, objects, people, and places, and most importantly allowing yourself to cry are paramount to emotional health.

Find things or people that make you laugh can greatly reduce cortisol levels. Do you express your outrage in social action, letters, donations, marches, and protests? Another important area is spiritual Self-Care. Do you spend time to reflect, spend time in nature, or find a spiritual connection or community? You should be open to inspiration, and cherish your optimism and hope. Be aware of non-material aspects of life and pursue worldly dreams but do not run so fast after them that you fall flat on your face. See what is meaningful to you and notice its place in your life. Be open to not knowing and finding all the answers. Meditate and pray and see experiences of awe. Contribute to causes in which you believe and seek collective goals and not personal only. Relationship Self-Care is another area paramount to your health. Schedule regular dates with your partner or spouse and do regular activities with your children. Make time to see friends and call, check on, or see your relatives. Spend time with your companion animals stay in contact with faraway friends and enlarge your social circle.

Make time to reply to personal emails and letters; send holiday cards as well and allow others to do things for you that matter and so does asking for help. Share a fear, hope, or secret with someone you trust and permit yourself to be vulnerable. And let’s look at professional self-care. Take a break during the workday (e.g., lunch) and make time to chat with co-workers. Do you get quiet time to complete tasks? Identify projects or tasks that are stimulating and rewarding. Have boundaries with clients and colleagues. Learn to balance your work so that no one day or part of a day is “too much.” Arrange the workspace so it is comfortable and comforting for you. Negotiate for your needs and most importantly have a peer support group. A healthy you leads to a healthy society so strive for balance within work-life and family, relationships. Live. Laugh. Long.

Zara Maqbool
The writer is a BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psycho-therapy) accredited individual and couple psycho-therapist based in Islamabad. She can be reached at zaramaqbool@yahoo.com.

The writer is a BACP (British Association For Counselling and Psychotherapy) accredited individual and couple psychotherapist based in Islamabad. She can be reached at zaramaqbool@yahoo.com or her official website.

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