School, work, family, and social life – we want to have it all. We often push ourselves to the point of exhaustion by dedicating all of our time and energy to everything else but ourselves. Self-care is the act of taking care of oneself physically, mentally, and emotionally. If we do not exist in good form, it shows in our vibes, and all that we touch and influence will be as toxic as how we feel. So, do yourself and others a favour – treat yourself well. Here’s a self-care checklist for you, especially on days when you feel overwhelmed, to reflect and know when to act and how to treat yourself better.
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle asserted long ago that “man is by nature a social animal”, explaining why we constantly seek company and need to be preoccupied to feel satisfied. Each of us has our own inner voice, and we need space – void of the day in day out noise and distractions – to listen to ourselves. Not to be confused with loneliness, solitude can help restore our calm and focus, allowing us to heal, be productive, and fuel our creativity.
Commit yourself to a “me time” schedule, deliberately doing certain activities by yourself, such as exercising, getting a haircut, or sitting by a café to people-watch. You’ll be surprised by the quantity and quality of conversations you’ll have with yourself, with bonus self-actualisation or a new-found solution, marking a fresh restart to the busy days ahead.
In this age of ultra-connectivity, we can work from anywhere and anytime. There’s infinite information at our fingertips; communication at the click of a button. Unless we set boundaries, it’s never-ending. Ironically, when we finally find time to relax, we choose to continue engaging in more connections over our devices. It is simply too convenient, and we fear missing out on news, trends, gossips, and friends.
It doesn’t hurt to disconnect and do a digital detox once in a while. Try this. Go for long walks without your phone and discipline yourself to not look at your messages and emails before bed and first thing in the morning. There’s little to lose in being disconnected for just a few minutes or hours each day, only to gain more time for yourself. If you are the sort of person who goes into a frenzy when the other party “blue-ticks” you on WhatsApp, this will not be an easy exercise. But once you understand it, you will come to appreciate the space the other party needs.
Learn to Do Nothing
“Do something nice for yourself. Do nothing at all,” reads the headline of a travel ad, promoting off-the-beaten-track holidays, featuring panoramic views of mountain peaks and lush greenery. Sounds amazing.
“Doing nothing” is not an easy feat because we are always doing something. Getting things done translates to being productive, and for some people, productivity becomes an addiction. Of course, it looks good, but in the long run – we can argue that those who wear the workaholic badge do not necessarily produce the best work. “Doing nothing”, on the other hand, is viewed as laziness and wasting time, a taboo in our society, and we beat ourselves up about it.
First of all, we need to stop feeling guilty about occasionally soaking in the simple pleasures of idleness. Kick off your shoes and swing away in a hammock. Sip a cocktail and watch the clouds go by. Take an aimless stroll, keep wandering and wondering. If you ever feel bored, creativity will find you.
Prioritise & Let Go Some
Now, it is back to the grind. In reality, we all have a to-do list to check, and things can’t go smoothly all the time. Unexpected disruptions can level up our anxiety. If you find yourself compulsively diving into whatever pops up all the time, the solution is to make a plan, one that you can go back to reprioritise, rather than trying to chaotically multi-task all the time.
Things will work again if you let go some. Letting go means to release our fixation on things, but it doesn’t necessarily mean to lose them. Stop trying to be in control of everything. It is like overwatering a plant and not giving it time to grow. Be brave. Let it go and grow.
Get Over with Seeking Validation
Do you post an Instagram story and sit by eagerly waiting to see the reactions you receive? Have you found yourself changing your mind just because others tell you “no”, but your intuition tells you “yes”? We all live in a community, and there is a strong desire to belong. Hence other people’s opinions matter to us.
There is a fine line between asking for advice and depending on it to chart our mood and the course of our life. If we choose to ask for validation, welcome the different perspectives and learn from them, but do not allow them to disempower us from making our own judgements. As part of learning to let go, know when to step away from toxic social circles if you find yourself stressing over what others think of you and your actions.
On the same note, be kind to others when you offer your opinions, in the same way – you would like to be treated.
We often associate being agreeable with being likeable, but to be a “yes man” is putting oneself last on all fronts. You are essentially burning your candles on both ends as you struggle with your own identity and put on a mask to brave the outside world’s impression of you.
No leader or trusted advisor emerge from the “yes man” behaviour. A leader is a visionary and not easily swayed by others, and no one wants to ask for advice from someone who will agree to everything.
Do not fear saying “no”. It helps if you take time to deliberate before you answer. The space you have given yourself allows you to think of the most appropriate way to reject or disagree, backed by reasons and scenarios that you have carefully considered. Be assertive in your response, and there is no need to apologise for saying “no”. You can’t please everyone, but you can treat yourself better.
Find Satisfaction & Stop Complaining
“Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.” In reality, work will never be a vacation, and just because you are stressed and tired in your work, it doesn’t mean that you do not love your work or that you are in the wrong line.
If only you can find satisfaction in the work that you do, hard work will not be so dreadful. Maintain a positive attitude towards challenges and remind yourself why you are doing this. If the task is one that you have strong differing opinions about, it is better to voice it out than to bottle it up and complain later. Complaints exude a negative and stressful vibe that affects oneself and the people around. An environment plagued with complaints is not productive. All talk, but no action – is pointless.
The Self-Care Checklist
On days when we are feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and reflect on whether you have compromised yourself. Let this be your guide:
- Me Time: When’s the last time I spent some time on my own?
- Disconnect: I’m going to leave my phone for a while and take a stroll. These messages can wait.
- Learn to Do Nothing: I’m not going to make any plans this Sunday at all. I’ll rest and enjoy the day.
- Prioritise: How should I prioritise this last-minute request amongst my other urgent assignments?
- Let Go: Everyone has been assigned their parts. I should stop worrying and trust that we will all do our best with the common goal to make a good pitch.
- Get Over with Seeking Validation: I am confident of my decision. At the same time, it will be interesting to know what others think, but I’ll not let their opinions put me down.
- Say No: I do not think this works for me. I’m going to say no, and I’ll explain why. They’ll understand.
- Find Satisfaction: My love for technology and law is the reason why I embarked on this patent attorney journey in the first place. It’s hard work now, but it will be all worth it.
- Stop Complaining: I’m not happy with the current situation, but I’ve come prepared with suggested solutions on how to make things better.