As a working mother, daughter, sister, and friend, I am an unlabelled caregiver. I love to take care of those around me, honor them, and make their time with me pleasant and rewarding.
Now. if you think about it, wouldn’t you want that for yourself as well?
So, do unto others what you want to be done unto yourself. Sound familiar? Now, if you could take this one step ahead, do unto you what you want others to do unto you.
Sounds simple, right?
Self-care is easier said than done. Women have fought for their rights and independence for over a hundred years. Yet, how truly independent are you?
You might have heard of self-esteem, self-worth, and even self-compassion. To truly put it to practice, where the rubber hits the road, you have to practice self-kindness.
Why treating yourself well is important
Everyone deserves to be treated right and well. And you can’t do it for others if you are not doing it for yourself.
Now, if you say “I always treat others well, but ...” whatever that “but …” is, is how you know that you are not being your beautiful best in life.
Others can only treat you as well as you treat yourself. And you can only treat others as well as you treat yourself. And, if you are treating others better than you treat yourself, then there is an unconscious expectation lingering in your care for others, which might more often than not, create disappointments for yourself.
There are too many martyrs in history, and there’s no need for you to add your name to that list.
You might call yourself a giver, and most givers at some point give up in life and settle or fall ill.
That’s not a happy place to be in.
Therefore, self-care is the best care. “Swayam seva, param seva” is a saying in Sanskrit meaning "caring for the self is the ideal form of caring."
Self-care isn’t a selfish act
Remember the last time you were on a flight and part of the safety instructions included “put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping a child of anyone else next to you?"
If you can’t care for yourself, everything else you do for someone else is a mere transaction.
What is self-care and how can it be most effective?
Make a list of things you love when others do it for you. I will list mine and you can add yours to this list. There are some activities I do every day, some once a week, and some less frequently, but I do them all.
1. Start your day with a tiny, peaceful ritual
I make my cup of tea and sip it slowly while enjoying the dawn break into a sunrise. Sometimes I journal, read a book, sometimes nothing at all.
But enjoying the cool crisp air of an early morning with a cup of tea sets me up for the entire day. The world is yet to wake up before it gets busy.
There’ll be time for that, but now you must be there for yourself and honor the divinity within.
2. List four nice things in a journal every single day
Journaling in the morning even for ninety seconds and writing down four nice things that happened yesterday or a few days ago, is a great way to set yourself up for a happier day. What you write you remember. I carry my tiny book of four good things in my bag. Looking at the book reminds me of all that’s good in my life. Life happens and will drag you down before you notice.
It has been proven that one negative thought is as potent as three positive thoughts. So if you are going about your day with three happy thoughts, and you hear or see one negative thing, it will cancel out all those three nice things you were carrying around in your memory bank.
Keep those four positive thoughts ready as ammunition every day, all the time, just in case a negative sight or sound passes you by. It will cancel three of your thoughts, but one of them will still linger in your conscious mind, so you don’t get dragged into the dumps of negativity.
3. Buy yourself something beautiful
Each time you go grocery shopping, buy yourself a small bouquet. You could also pluck one single flower from close to where you live, bring it home, and place it in a cup of water.
These flowers will light up your soul each time you see them. Flowers have beauty, fragrance, softness, sweetness, and purity. Glancing at them will remind you of these qualities that are true about you too.
4. Take yourself on a date
Go on a date with yourself at least once a month. You can take yourself out for a snack and coffee/tea, lunch, or even dinner. Enjoy yourself over a meal and allow yourself to be served.
Now if you can add a movie to this, even better. If you can’t do this for yourself, why would anyone else, with no agenda?
5. Prioritize some outdoor time
Go out in nature at least three to four times a week. Even if they are short walks, through a neighborhood or in a nearby park, it is worth it.
Enjoy the people who pass you by and smile. When you walk in nature, your endorphins (happy hormones) are flowing which will heal your hurts, both physical and emotional.
Walking also helps you return to your equilibrium. Each step you take makes your balance shift on that side and then the next step crosses your center and takes your balance to the other side.
As a Buddhist, I practice walking meditation every day. You can align your breath and notice your steps as it lays on mother earth to be lifted shortly.
6. Schedule time to be alone with your own company
And before I share the last self-care activity I enjoy daily, may I suggest going on short trips on your own?
You could take a day trip, a two-day trip, a week-long, or even a month-long trip if you can work from anywhere and pay for it without getting into debt.
You could take a sister, a child, or a best friend along, as long as you are not in the habit of taking care of this person. If you are not fully there where you do not need to take care of everyone around you, go on this trip on your own.
Spending time away from home on your own and lazing around is a great way to recharge your brain, your heart, and your nervous system.
Take a pair of walking shoes so you can walk around and explore even if you have been here before. A new set of eyes, makes everything seems new and fresh. Let the world touch you, comfort you, and heal you.
It’s not a luxury, but a necessity.
And finally, end the day with a nice long shower or bath. Sometimes I take a bath, but that shower at the end of the day, helps me truly wash off all the physical and emotional grime from the day, so I can rest in peace. It’s not just a physical cleanse.
A shower helps you emotionally cleanse yourself too, and relax your mind and nerves. You deserve it.
Well my friend, hopefully, you will get started today and do something nice for yourself. Maybe have a bite with some tea and buy yourself some flowers on your way home.
Treat yourself well and watch the world be nice to you each day.
Keya Murthy, M.S., C.Ht., works as a Clinical Hypnotherapist, Trainer in Neurolinguistic Programming, and Energy Medicine Practitioner. She is also a #1 International Bestselling Author and has published eleven books on Amazon, the latest of which is The Book on Happiness. Keya is also the host of the Be Happier with Coach Keya Podcast.