Our culture has an unhealthy obsession with female self-sacrifice – a mother, wife or daughter, who puts her family and her domestic duties over herself. If she chooses otherwise, she stands to face the ire of a society that will name her ill-mannered, or worse, selfish. Even in the 21st century, women are judged for putting themselves first; and if she’s a mother who decides to care for herself, she’s instantly labelled a bad mother. And while, she attends to her loved ones’ needs, she’s also expected to look presentable and be good-humoured at all times, so that she doesn’t appear rude or improper.
These unfair societal expectations put enormous pressure on women, whether they have professional careers or are homemakers. Many end up hating on or neglecting themselves for not keeping it together even on the hardest of days. For many women, it’s easier said than done to focus on self-care and self-love, especially when their support system is weak or non-existent. However, keeping your sanity in tact for your own peace and self-esteem is important and can be achieved with baby steps. Here are some simple steps you can follow to care for yourself and shower yourself with love and acceptance.
Easy ways to include self-care in your life
Accept that self-care is an essential, not a reward. Many women are shamed for prioritising their self-care needs. However, it’s vital to establish within yourself that self-care prevents burnout, alleviates stress and helps you refocus on what’s important.
Identify what self-care means to you
Different people have different definitions for self-care. Some examples can be taking a nap every afternoon, watching a TV show, reading, taking a break to do nothing at all/reflecting, taking a slow shower, exercising, chatting with a friend, etc. The first step to self-care is finding a couple of activities that bring joy and tranquillity to your mind and body.
Prioritise healthy eating
Most women on the path to care for others, do so at the expense of their own health. Skipping or delaying meals to get chores out of the way is just one of the many ways women normalise self-sacrifice. Having balanced meals on time, with a few healthy snacks in between are non-negotiable self-care steps. Swap quick-fix energisers like coffee and fizzy drinks for nutritious and hydrating plant-based soups, especially when you feel a slump.
Keep an eye open for triggers
Sometimes you know what’s going to push your buttons. It could be a meeting with a disagreeable client, a chore that you despise doing, or maybe even a night of restless sleep. You know best what self-care activity will help you relax during these moments. Don’t hesitate to take action so you don’t end up feeling helpless.
Always remember that self-care is your own responsibility
It isn’t a “treat” you “allow” others to let you have because you have fulfilled your duties. If you find it challenging to incorporate activities that give you joy, write a journal with a clear-cut action plan that includes time and space for self-care activities between your busy days or weeks.
How to love yourself:
Loving yourself may seem contrived to the sceptics; but it’s an indispensable ingredient to being at peace with yourself in a world full of critics.
Be kind to yourself
When things go wrong, the easiest person to blame is yourself; a technique a number of women use to resolve problems or avoid friction. One of the crucial steps to self-love is to be kind to yourself. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll have shortcomings. You’re human. So, show yourself some compassion.
Make time to do things you love:
Many women give up on their passion and goals. If there are limitations, ensure you find time to accomplish your dreams bit by bit. Again, don’t beat yourself up or call yourself a “loser”. Allot some time to rekindle a forgotten hobby, talent or skill.
Love your physical being
Your body has been through so many experiences over the years. It would be a pity to label it too chubby, too thin, too short, out of shape, scarred and so on. You don’t need to put yourself in a box, and you mustn’t allow others to do it too. Call out body-shamers – your body is your business, so don’t let people humiliate you with inappropriate or negative comments. More importantly, don’t do it yourself.
The topmost step to love yourself is to accept yourself – with all your so-called inadequacies and flaws. Stop comparing yourself to others. Remember that you’ve been designed a certain way and you need to respect that. There might be parts of you that you want to improve, and that’s alright. Work on yourself, if it sparks joy; but focus on the journey instead of the end result.
Repeat – “I’m proud of myself”. You know your life story best. You’ve faced the challenges in your own unique way. How can you not be proud of the way you’ve handled adversities! Be sure to pat yourself on the back and say again and again, “I’m proud of myself”.
Let us leave you with this thought – you can’t pour from an empty cup. So, if you wish to continue caring for your loved ones, take care of yourself first. You deserve all the love, affection and respect.
Share this with other women and spread the love. Happy Women’s Day!