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New Year challenge: self-care

January 19, 2019

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Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

It’s a common practice to set New Year resolutions every year but this year, I challenge you to do something different. This year I challenge you to make self-care a priority.

Yes, you probably never thought about this, right? What with so much that you should be juggling with during the New Year, you completely forgot that looking after yourself matters too. And believe me, if you are not fit, healthy, happy and motivated, then it will be very hard for you to accomplish the goals that you have set for yourself. Hence, self-care is not just important, it’s crucial.

During the course of our everyday lives, that includes school, homework, tests and a hundred other activities, most of us compromise our health and well-being. Sometimes we become so absorbed in preparing for the test taking place the next day that we forget to have lunch and dinner. Sometimes there is so much homework to do and assignments to prepare in a day that we skip sleep.

Sometimes, notifications on our multiple social media accounts suck all the time and energy we could have spent elsewhere. Keeping a balance in life is very important and a balanced routine includes some time for self-care.

But it’s never too late to take charge of yourself and to start building yourself up. You can start today, this year. Say ‘no’ to the things that harm and drain you, either physically or mentally. If eating fast food everyday is only making your body heavier, put an end to this habit now and start eating nutrient rich things only. If the TV or phone is wasting your time or preventing you from reading your favourite book, shut it down.

Self-care does not always mean doing big and expensive things, like going to the salon every month to upgrade your look. You can take care of yourself in numerous small ways and here I will share with you some of them that you can start working on from today.

Eat healthy

Avoid junk food, or at least minimise it. Processed food does more harm to your body than good. On the other hand, food in its raw form is healthier, such as fruits and vegetables.

I certainly do not mean that you go on a ‘diet’ and refrain from eating everything else, but choose what to eat wisely. Instead of buying food from the canteen, you can choose to pack your lunchbox from home.

In preteens and teenage, the body needs a lot of protein and good fat to become strong. A healthy body means a healthy mind and a healthy mind means a person capable of achieving their full potential. Therefore, pay attention to what you eat and do not avoid any food group, especially fruits and vegetables.

Stay hydrated

There is absolutely no substitute of water. Consuming adequate amounts of water is a must and it has loads of benefits. It helps your body get rid of wastes, normalises its temperature and enhances your complexion, among other benefits.

The amount of water you need to consume everyday depends on the age group you fall into, but ideally eight glasses of water a day is enough.

Exercise regularly

You have heard this a million times before, but you keep overlooking this advice.

Exercise is very important for keeping your body fit, active and your mind more alert. Lack of exercise leads to physical issues, mental health problems and maximises the chances of illnesses later in life.

Exercise does not mean going to the gym only. If you have a park near your house, you can go there every day to walk and exercise. Playing sports in school is also a good idea. You don’t even have to go out if you don’t want to. Find a space in your house and make it your exercise spot.

It is equally important to exercise your mind and one of the easiest ways is to foster the habit of reading regularly. Getting yourself to move is hundred times better than sitting on the couch all day with your phone and, trust me, it pays off.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Care about personal grooming

Nobody likes a person who smells bad or looks unkempt. Believe it or not, the way you look greatly impacts the way you feel, which in turn affects your overall performance.

Take some time every day to look into the mirror and improve the person you look at, both physically, mentally and spiritually. Do something to make yourself look good, either by wearing a nice dress, making a neat hairstyle or by doing anything that makes you feel good about yourself.

A lot of dissatisfaction comes from having unhealthy beliefs about ourselves. You might think you don’t look good and that very belief is going to stop you from doing a lot of things. So take time to improve yourself, one thing at a time.

Here are some of the ways you can do this:

• Brush your teeth regularly and floss,

• Trim your nails,

• Shower regularly,

• Wear neat and nicely pressed clothes,

• Keep your hair clean and have a hairstyle that suits you,

• Brighten up your personality with nice manners and a smile on your face.

There are a lot of other ways in which you can groom yourself and if you want to learn about them, surf the internet.

Do the things you love!

Other than maintaining your health, there are many other things that are a part of self-care and one of them is giving time to the things you love to do.

Most people are too occupied these days with things that they ‘have to’ do, such as school assignments and projects, leaving little time for hobbies and special interests.

Doing what you love to do, such as reading, writing, cooking solving puzzles, doing DIYs, etc. – actually anything that refreshes your mind, improves your mood and also gives satisfaction and happiness. In the long run, it enhances your performance in life and increases your chances of success.

Plan your day

Most of us have no idea what to do with the 24 hours we have every day. You might spend so much time studying or on your phone (if you have one) that you end up having very little or no time for other tasks. The best way is to set a timetable every night so that you know how to spend the next day. This way, give maximum input to the day.

Write it down

Another way to make yourself feel good about yourself is to write positive things about yourself in your notebook every day. This can be anything. For example, you helped your classmate or you cleaned you room. This practice motivates you towards doing and achieving more, and increases your confidence in yourself. You can also reward yourself by doing things such as cooking yourself your favourite meal or watching a movie.

This list does not exhaust here; there are many other ways in which you should be taking care of yourself and you can ask yourself now what these are and make it part of your New Year resolution this year.

So here’s my challenge: write down all the ways in which you can take care of yourself and include at least one of the activities mentioned above into your daily routine.

Practising self-care daily can seem like a chore and you will find yourself struggling with it but, trust me, it is always worth it.

You don’t necessarily have to do huge things everyday to make a difference, but doing even one self-care activity every day will definitely make a huge difference. You are the person in charge of yourself and for accomplishing all your goals. If you don’t have the energy, motivation and strength, no one else will give it to you. So this year, make self-care your number one priority.

Published in Dawn, Young World, January 19th, 2019