WHAT I DO FOR SELF CARE
Health is defined as a state of physical, mental and social well-being not just the absence of disease.
Most of us know the old adage: A healthy mind in a healthy body. Self care is taking care of one’s body. mind and spirit.
In a patriarchal society like ours, women and girls are preordained to be the primary caregivers-taking care of the husbands, the children , the elderly and the sick. The majority of us end up being so consumed by this role that we forget or fail to find time to take care of ourselves. We end up suffering from burnout or being too stressed. In my late thirties, while juggling a demanding career and motherhood, I almost suffered from burn out. That is when I realized that I needed to care for my body, mind, and spirit every day of my life for a lifetime if I were to lead a meaningful and satisfying life.
I took time to dig deeper to know myself-my strengths, weaknesses and my limits then strived to take care of myself within those boundaries. The rewards have been great. I keep adjusting a few things as more time becomes available to me.
This is what I usually do for self care:
Taking care of my body
- Adequate sleep at night- after the day’s activities, a body needs 7-8 hours of sleep to repair itself and to produce the proteins that fight off infection and inflammation. I know very well that less sleep results in poor immune response; opening up the body for recurrent infections. This is extremely important during this COVID-19 pandemic.
- Timely healthy balanced meals- I plan each day’s meals well in advance to allow me to stock up on what I shall need during the week. I am even lucky that I can harvest fresh lemons, sweet bananas, avocados, jackfruits, sour soap, carrots, beetroots, celery and rape, dodo and some fresh herbs like mint and rosemary from our garden.
- Water- Up to 60% of my body is water so I need to drink a minimum of two litres of water to stay well hydrated in 24 hours.
- Regular exercise- I start my day with simple exercises in the house mainly to strengthen and tone my muscles. I also take long walks in the evening but the bodabodas that never follow the flow of traffic can be threatening.
- A regular haircut and treatment at a salon is part of the package.
Taking care of the Mind
The routine things that I have learned over the years and practice often like taking a bath do not challenge the brain; the brain needs to be challenged by doing new things like learning a language or complex things like solving a Sudoku number puzzle. At my age, if I do not challenge it regularly it will lose its function; I shall become slow in action and slow in making decisions.
I do this by reading novels usually two at a time, reading medical journals and writing. Every day I make time to write a page of a short story or a blog post, read newspapers and fill the crossword puzzles, Sudoku number puzzles. I also read blog posts on the Blogs that I follow.
Every day I listen to some regular programmes of the BBC World Service, listen to Classic music, Country music and Gospel songs.
In the evenings I call my children and friends or chat with them on WhatsApp. My childhood best friend and I have for a long time nurtured a habit of meeting over a meal or a drink and catching up on our lives at least once in two weeks. It gives us something to look forward too. Connecting with loved ones releases the “feel good factors” in my brain making me relaxed and happy.
At least twice a week in the evenings, I work in our vegetable garden mainly to connect with Nature and find my place in the universe. It is both calming and relaxing not forgetting the leafy green bumper harvest at the end of the season.
I regularly take time to be alone, I call it “Me’’ time . I use this time to reboot, meditate, focus and be more creative. I follow that old Greek motto : Know Thyself. The more I get to know myself, the more I get to know and understand others so I become more human and compassionate. It has made me more honest and authentic. It keeps my body, mind, heart and soul in harmony and when I create things they express who I am organically.
Taking care of my spirit
I believe in God and his promises. I count my blessings every day; it gives me hope and joy and lines me up for more blessings.
I read and study the Bible with the intention of living it in my day-to-day life. After the early morning exercises, I read the day’s spiritual nugget and a chapter of a chosen book in either the New or Old Testament. I then pray to seek God’s guidance throughout the day. I always end the day with a prayer late at night.
As a Christian, I do some voluntary work like Career Guidance in Schools through my church, the Women Doctors’ Association and my school’s Old Girls Association. It is my way of giving back to the communities that shaped me.
Self care is an integral part of taking care of one’s health and I feel that young professionals especially the women should be made aware of it as we support them to give without maiming themselves and others.
Jesus commanded us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves but then if I do not know how to love myself, how will you love others?