The challenges of self-care and why its key to managing stress

Image of a woman waking up in bed

As a mother, wife and entrepreneur, Monica Malhotra juggles the daily challenges of life which can be a struggle and she knows she is not alone. Here, Monica shares the self-care tips that have helped her keep it together.

In recent years it’s fair to say that self-care has become a buzz word, Google searches demonstrate that self-care related topics have shot through the roof, particularly in the face of COVID-19. It’s been a difficult year for everyone. However, as women, I feel we have the added struggle to juggle our emotional, social, physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing alongside the demands placed on us by work, home, family and society. This is an ongoing uphill battle, in the best of times. In these uncertain times, self-care is a necessity to survive.

How to self-care? It seems like a daunting task or an activity that would consume a lot of time, but it isn’t once you start and create your routine. You will find over time that you cherish and look forward to the time of day you dedicate to your self-care. I manage the daily stresses of life with a regular mindful and meditation routine, where I carve out me-time to get my head clear and focused. That’s what self-care means to me. But of course, self-care can mean different things to different people. The key is to ensure that we regularly practice self-care for our mental health and wellbeing, but it’s not always easy.

Monica Malhotra

Whether basic self-care such as eating three healthy meals a day to more indulgent practices such as catching up with friends, finding the time, inspiration or simply the energy to devote to self-care can be a challenge. More than that, we often have to deal with the emotional barriers that can prevent us from incorporating goodness for ourselves into our day-to-day lives, even though intuitively we know we should.

Battling guilt

One of the emotional barriers we often face is guilt. Deep-rooted, our feelings of guilt are often tied to the notion that as women, we are here to nurture others. Whether as a wife, mother or daughter or even best friend, feelings of guilt can overcome us when we put ourselves first. This is something deeply ingrained in our culture, thanks to women often regarded in their primary role as caregiver. But as women, we need to understand that unless we take care of ourselves first, everything else is prone to fall apart. You cannot pour from an empty cup.

Battling a lack of honesty

Related to our feelings of guilt are our fears in expressing ourselves. Most often, this manifests itself in our inability to say “No” to something that is beyond our physical, emotional or mental capacity. A response based on fear of letting others down, we bite off more than we can chew, leading to our demise. Consistently behaving in such a way will lead to either burnout or failing to meet the expectations of others. Sometimes, for our wellbeing, we need to know when to say enough is enough. For that to happen, we need to have clear boundaries and learn how to stick to them.

Battling a lack of self-worth

A lack of self-worth is a formidable internal barrier to overcome, tied as it is too deep-seated emotions spanning your childhood, family dynamics, and relationships. Dealing with such feelings may require the support of mental health professional. What is worth stressing, nonetheless, is the impact self-care can have on wellbeing. A lack of self-worth can be a sign of depression, in the face of which participating in activities you enjoy can provide a healthy boost of endorphins – the feel-good hormones. By ensuring regular self-care activities throughout your week, you can break up the monotony of your days, give yourself something to look forward to, and take yourself out of your negative headspace.

Practical tips for self-care

Self-care is ultimately a practise that requires dedication, and with greater awareness around the emotional barriers you build, you can take practical steps to overcome them. Remember, time for yourself is vital for your own emotional, physical and mental wellbeing, without which all your other responsibilities may fall by the wayside. Let us not forget that self-care, however, is not a chore! Whether a walk on the beach, curling up with a hot chocolate and a book or popping to the movies, it should be an activity that you love and that makes you feel good – an essential part of the human experience. That said, here are my essential tips on implementing self-care into your routine!

Schedule time for self-care

As with all other things, planning is critical – whether it’s putting aside the time or the money, make sure you have what you need to see to your self-care. By doing these things, you can implement a regular self-care routine. Whether it’s going to your favourite yoga class or setting aside an hour every few days to do something for yourself, the key is scheduling and consistency. If you are asked to make a commitment that infringes on this time, be firm, respect your boundaries, and politely say ‘No’!

You don’t need to spend much, but budget where necessary

When it comes to self-care, you needn’t feel bad about spending money on yourself. Whether it’s simply enjoying a cup of coffee and slice of cake with a friend or finding a quiet spot to read your favourite book – the only requirement for a self-care activity is that it be carried out intentionally to reap the rewards. Plan for your self-care activities by building it into your budget if needs be. That way you won’t feel guilty when you spend what you had already planned to.

Wake-up early

With a child, husband and business, finding the time for self-care is understandably a challenge. That’s why I wake up early, every day at 5 am. This allows me quiet time, without anyone nagging me, asking me questions, or bothering me in any way. Its ME time, for me alone. The quiet of the morning also makes it the ideal time for meditation, where there are few external distractions.

This article was originally published on DECEMBER 6, 2020

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