Feeling down and low? Find out from an expert how to love yourself to ensure you feel good despite difficult times.
Your mind can be your closest ally or your worst enemy. How often has the tiny critic in your head held you back? Your thoughts can uplift your mood or bring it crashing down, says psychologist and counsellor Dr Preetika Chandna from Change Counselling Centre, Meerut. Self-care, she believes, is making your thoughts and feelings a priority each day of your life. Looking after yourself involves supporting your mental health, eating healthy, being physically active, developing self-awareness, and avoiding risks that could impair your well-being.
Loving yourself can be tough. It is possible to be kind to yourself when the sun’s shining, but self-care can be a tough routine to follow when nothing’s going your way. Practising self-care can help improve your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being so that you can count on yourself when you need to most. Self-care can be a powerful tool when it is put into use as a daily reminder of activities and behaviours that nurture your soul, rather than as an emergency backup plan. Dr Chandna gives you a lowdown on self-care: how you can be your own fair and foul weather friend.
Practice Is Progress
Silencing your inner critic requires practice. Try a simple exercise. What do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror? Are you quick to cringe at your flaws, or do you smile at your reflection? Accepting yourself, blemishes and all is the first step towards caring for yourself. And that takes practice. Try speaking kind words to yourself in the mirror. Tell yourself you are loved and accepted. Over time, thinking positively about your attitude, body, and feelings become a habit. Trying times will seem easier to overcome when you cultivate a habit of looking at yourself with acceptance and without judgement.
When you are faced with a demanding boss or an overbearing friend, it is easy to slip into people-pleasing mode. Taking care of the needs of everyone around you might leave very little time for self-care! Prioritise your needs by allowing yourself to say a resounding ‘no!’ to other people when you feel overwhelmed. It can feel selfish to think of yourself above others, but, on the contrary, not looking after your needs is selfish! That’s because no one gets to see the most cared-for version of you!
Take A Time-Out
FOMO is an actual fear, and 24/7 social media noise is a reality. Taking a break can feel like a waste of time. However, short breaks can help rejuvenate the mind and body and help you perform better at work or at home. A self-care time-out is essential to recharge and gain perspective when you are feeling bogged down by work pressure, relationship troubles, childcare issues, and so on. Take a look at a few easy tips on how you can unplug and bounce back stronger:
- Turn off your cell phone before sleeping and at mealtimes.
- Go for a short walk.
- Take a few deep breaths every few hours.
- Stretch out!
- Take a day off (no shame in that).
- Listen to your favourite song.
- Read a few pages of a book.
Reach Out For Help
When stress and sadness seem too much to handle, it helps to reach out to a trusted friend or therapist for help. You might feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness or vulnerability and decide to deal with life’s challenges alone. Getting through tough times alone is a formidable task and can deplete your emotional resources. Talking your problems out with a professional or friend goes a long way in boosting your morale, dealing with frustrations, and refreshing your resources.
You can’t stop life from throwing challenges your way, but you can overcome them by cultivating your emotional spring-back capacity or resilience. There are a few effective activities by which you can develop resilience and encourage wellness in times of stress, such as:
- Move your body - exercise, do yoga, take a walk.
- Make healthy food choices.
- Sleep for seven to eight hours daily.
- Hydrate frequently.
- Appreciate yourself.
- Develop gratitude for other people.
- Set personal and professional boundaries.
- Disconnect from social media off and on.
- Indulge in your hobbies.
- Set positive daily affirmations.
Spend Time With Supportive People
Social support is the cornerstone of healthy relationships. A friend or loved one whom you can lean on in times of distress can lift you out of deepest despair. Prioritising and engaging in supportive relationships make you feel positive about yourself. Nurture friendships that are non-judgemental and provide emotional sustenance.
A Little Indulgence Never Hurt
Taking the time to indulge in some me-time is just a way of saying you care about yourself. A spa appointment, a day at the movies, a cup of coffee with a friend can help buoy your spirits when you are feeling burned out or stressed. Find an activity that makes you happy and helps you restore your physical and mental self.
When life has us hitting all the gears, the first thing to be tossed out the window is self-care. Refill the tank of self-love frequently to avoid feeling drained out emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Commit to a self-care plan that helps you build courage and authenticity to deal with life’s hurdles before you reach a breaking point!