5 Ways to Start Taking Care of Yourself (Because It's Hard)
I have always been a fan of letting myself fall by the wayside. I have no idea, and I mean literally, not a clue on Earth, how to look after myself. But I am slowly trying to remedy that, because I’ve finally realized that if I don’t start doing better for myself, I will never stop thinking the worst of myself. This is a tricky truth and it’s easy to miss.
Sometimes you forget that if you don’t look after your body and your needs, you won’t be able to help your mind feel nourished, and your soul feel strong. You will begin to think that if you can’t even be good enough to yourself and keep flourishing, how can you be good/strong/clever enough for (enter purpose or person here)? Though obviously untrue, I guess logically, it makes sense: the insides can’t be great when the outsides aren’t. When was the last time a beautifully furnished and decorated house was considered well-kept and upscale, when the outside was crumbling walls and shattered windows?
We all want to believe our spirits are strong and that we are made of timeless, worthy stuff, because we are! So below is a small, simple list to help your body and mind feel as strong as your spirit and soul are. Eat well, sleep well, and exercise are a given. Here are some lesser known truths.
1. Be kind to your body.
Don’t push yourself further than you know you can go, just for the sake of other people’s needs. It is so, so, so terribly difficult to do this, I know. You feel like a cop-out: weak, or even useless, because you can’t do what everyone else can, or you can’t make yourself keep going when others can. Once in a while, pushing yourself is good, because you get to do something I like to call “resetting your limits”, where you learn you’re capable of so much more than you thought. But that is once in a while, not every weekend. Hear your body, don’t ignore it, and be proud of yourself for being kind to you.
2. Don’t drown out your intellectual voice by constantly engaging in easy entertainment.
Anyone else binge-watch TV? Read gossip magazines constantly? Rummage through Vine for hours on end? Facebook stalk? There are so many methods for keeping yourself uselessly occupied that, though harmless and fun at first (and necessary, because everyone should be able to name every one of Mindy Lahiri’s boyfriends), they end up becoming full-on addictions. And like all addictions, they aren’t healthy, they keep you from exploring your true potential, and they prevent you from actually enjoying the thing you are addicted to. So allocate one night a week to your fave show (ahem, in other words the way things were before Netflix). Spend all that new-found free time to reignite your intellect: learn something new, or remind yourself why you so love reading/hiking/star-gazing/cleaning the fridges, you adorable weirdo.
3. Keep active.
Not exercise, per se, but housework, errand-running, or meeting friends and family. Constantly keep yourself going so that you don’t fall into the trap of being lazy. It’s easy to convince yourself you’re tired, when actually its lethargy. It’s also easy to convince yourself that you need the downtime, when actually your mind and body don’t need rest to heal, but activity. Though this might seem to fly in the face of number one on our list, it’s not about burning yourself out (a very significant distinction), but finding the happy medium between becoming stressfully over-occupied and depressingly under-occupied.
4. Heal yourself healthy.
Some of us might have ailments we aren’t paying attention to because they just don’t make the priorities list. It’s not about maintaining overall health in an obviously general way (like eating your fruits and veggies), but acknowledging that to keep yourself healthy, you need focus on what needs healing. I used to have quite vicious eczema. Though everyday I could feel its effects on me, I never really took it seriously until my parents sat me down on a trip home and told me that I had to do something about it, for their sake. I am ashamed to say that had they not been so adamant, I might still be scratching scaly, dragon-hide type areas on my neck all day and night. Now, I’m on to fixing my vitamin D deficiency. Yay for me!
5. Acknowledge that to maintain your overall mental and physical health, you can’t ever get complacent.
Annoying? Yes. True? Unfortunately, also yes. Keep a list of things that you need to keep getting better at; I think it’s fair to say we all have more than one area in our lives where we’re probably ignoring how bad our habits are for us. As always, prioritize. Now that you’ve become better about sleeping before dawn, maybe the next thing is to replace eating chocolate one of the seven (hundred) times in the day that you do with eating some sort of natural thing. Like, I dunno, fruit. Always give yourself more than enough time to break the bad habit and establish the good. Don’t expect overnight results, and when you finally feel like you’ve cracked it, reward yourself. This might seem tiring, but honestly, it releases such feel-good feelings and gets you all fired up for more positive change. It’s a simple route to genuine achievement, and who doesn’t want that as often as possible?
I hope this helps any and all of you who, like me, don’t really understand how to keep yourself firing on all cylinders. Any other suggestions? Please feel free to share in the comments!
Zahabiya Abidali lives in London, has been writing ever since she had multi-colored felt pens in which to do it, and is mildly obsessed with tea and New Girl. She’s currently on an adventure; follow its progress here: anadventureintyping.wordpress.com.
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