As a child, I was diligent about my schoolwork—partly due to my parents’ expectations for me but also because of my own desire to please them. But then in my teenage years, something changed: I found myself feeling overwhelmed by everything that needed to get done, and it seemed like there wasn’t enough time or energy to do all the things on my list. I grew angry at everyone who had even the slightest expectations of me—including myself. This included going to school and taking care of my mind, things that were important to me, but I no longer had the energy for. 

It took me many years to realise what was happening: I wasn’t prioritising my own needs but ignoring them instead. When in reality, health and happiness had taken a backseat—and that made me feel stressed out and exhausted all of the time. It was easier to blame my parents for this. I believed that if they had only been more supportive, or more consistent, or more anything—anything at all—I would have turned out differently. I would have been a better person.

I have learned, however—and am still learning—that no one can make me a better person but myself. I am the only one who can change my life from the inside out and no other individual has that power over me. As I grow older, it becomes harder to hide behind these excuses.

As a new parent, I found myself isolated from friends and family. So to pass the time, I read about religion and philosophy—and eventually psychology. My question about how we can understand ourselves was the beginning of my fascination with understanding what makes up this universe in which we live. As my curiosity grew, so did my understanding of how different cultures understood the world around them. I quickly realised that one important factor underlying most practices and teachings was self-care—not just taking care of your body, but also tending to the needs of your mind.

I’ll be honest. I used to scoff at that word, ‘self-care’.

It was a term I associated with people who were more concerned with themselves than they were with others. I found it to be a little too touchy-feely, and not something I wanted to do. It seemed like a waste of time when I could be working on something else. And then I became one of those people who had an unexpected moment of clarity and realised that my life was not the way it needed to be—not because I was failing at taking care of myself, but because I’d been neglecting myself for so long that I didn’t even know how to start doing it again.

I’ve always been told that I’m selfish and a pushover—a contradiction, perhaps, but it was a fitting description of myself. But selfish as I was, I struggled to make time for myself in a way that truly nurtured my body and soul—and it wasn’t because I didn’t want to do it! It was because I couldn’t figure out how to make it work.

Learning about psychology, its strategies, and tools, was a great way to help other people. But when I had to use those same strategies and tools to help myself, I felt like all that learning amounted to nothing. I’m not going to pretend that this is an easy thing for me to write about, because it isn’t. It’s taken me months just to get up the courage to share this publicly; even now, just typing these words feels like a betrayal of some kind. But I don’t want anyone else out there feeling alone and hopeless the way I did—like they’re trapped in their own minds without any way out.

I’ve been working toward this moment for a long time. And I’m going to be my biggest cheerleader. Wish me luck!

P.s.: If you’re interested in learning about self-care and how it might motivate you (so congratulations on taking the first step), here are some of my personal notes. I hope they help, and at the very least— inspire you on your journey!

If you're interested in learning about self-care and how it might motivate you (so congratulations on taking the first step), here are some of my personal notes. I hope they help, and at the very least— inspire you on your journey!

What is Self-care

  • Self-care is essential for maintaining physical and mental well-being because it allows us to prioritise our own needs and take steps to maintain our health and happiness. 
  • When we neglect our own well-being, we risk becoming burned out, stressed, and overwhelmed. This can lead to a range of physical and mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, fatigue, and even chronic illnesses.

Scientific Research Supporting Self-care

Research has shown that self-care can have a range of benefits for both physical and mental health. 

  • For example, studies have found that regular exercise can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, as well as improve mood and cognitive function.
  • The International Center for Self-Care Research held a conference in Rome, Italy in June 2019 to discuss the current state of self-care research and propose an agenda for future research. The conference concluded that self-care can have beneficial effects, including improved well-being and lower morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs.

In addition to these physical health benefits, self-care can also have a range of mental health benefits. 

  • For example, taking time to relax and engage in activities we enjoy can improve mood and reduce stress. 
  • Connecting with others can reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Why Do We Need Self-care

To maintain our health and happiness, we need to prioritise self-care. By making self-care a priority, we can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, improve our mood and cognitive function, and feel more connected to ourselves and others.

And So It Begins. Self-care.



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