Health, Science & Technology · Life Story

Collaboration with a Purpose: Health for All – Self-Care

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Earlier I posted the intro post for this month’s Collaboration with a Purpose theme, which is Health for All and is in conjunction with World Health Day 2018! In that post, I mentioned not everyone is healthy and/or has access to healthcare (even affordable ones), which is a sad truth. So this month, all of us collaborations wrote about different angles of Health for All!

And I’m sorry for being super late with this post! It was supposed to go out on World Health Day on 7th April, but I was honestly stumped as to what to write; I don’t think I’ve ever been this stumped in my writing before. 😶

The problem with having health as a theme is that, well, I’m not exactly the epitome of health myself, and a lot of the topic ideas I had didn’t quite resonate with me. I could have written about the importance of health, but there are already so many such articles out there. I could have compiled a list of little ways we could do to be healthier, but considering I’m not even doing these myself, it’s not exactly something I want to write. And I could go all researcher-like and study about the different types of health (physical, mental, emotional, etc), but eh, I don’t feel like much of a researcher at the moment. What was a stumped writer to do?!

Also, at the same time, I’ve had some major personal stuff happening lately (more on that later) that – as much as I’d like to say doesn’t bother me that much – affects me enough that I decided to take it easy and apply more self-care. It was then I decided on the topic of self-care, since it’s something I could relate to and am applying. 🙂

 


Self-Care?

As always, let’s start with what a definition taken from the Internet. 😛

Generally speaking, self-care is engaging in activities and behaviours that have a positive effect on your mental and physical health. There is no one thing — or even a list of things — that encompasses self-care. It’s different for each person. However, the end goal is always the same: to reduce stress, preserve relationships, maintain a beneficial work/life balance, and nurture your mental and physical well-being.
~From Plus Guidance: Importance of Self-Care: Why Caring for Yourself is Caring for All

I’d like to emphasise on the phrase: “It’s different for each person.” What works for me may not work for the next person. 🙂

For example, some may enjoy taking a long bath with aromatherapy and everything, but honestly bathtubs stress me out as I think of it as a monster to clean, and I make sure to look for hotels with showers instead of bathtubs whenever I go on a vacation. 😅

The key is to find something that makes you as an individual feel good. 😀

Why is Self-Care Important?

As someone who tries to spread positivity, I’m sorry to say: currently the world is far from idea. A place where “money talks”, “time is money” and  “hard work pays off”, where many people end up working overtime often or even become workaholics (very common here in Southeast Asia). A place where we’re expected to be “selfless”, where many of us are thought to care for others without care for ourselves, where we’re supposed to be a good parent / child / partner / friend / [insert role] at all times that the moment we pause to take a breath is considered a failure. A place where “winning” is everything, where we’re supposed to be overachieving outgoing machines who don’t have the world “rest” in our dictionary.

It’s no wonder so many of us are stressed and burned out!

Stress in small amounts are good for us, but when being stressed becomes the new normal, there are negative impacts on our health. And, when our own health is affected, how can we care for our loved ones? Imagine a frazzled and overstressed mother trying to care for her infant; it’s not exactly very good for both of them. 🙁

That’s why self-care has often been compared to the aeroplane emergency analogy – one has to put their own oxygen mask before helping others to put theirs on! This doesn’t apply to just doctors and nurses, but everyone in general. 😀

Self-care is necessary for a number of reasons.

  • It increases your sense of self-love, allowing you to appreciate and accept yourself for who you are.
  • It promotes feelings of calm and relaxation, serving as a way to refocus and come back to your daily life refreshed and ready to take on anything.
  • It improves both physical and mental health by reducing the effects of prolonged stress on your mind and body.

Ultimately, meeting your own needs makes you a more valuable partner, parent, friend, employee or caregiver. When you’re healthy and well-rested, you’re better equipped to support others.
~From Plus Guidance: Importance of Self-Care: Why Caring for Yourself is Caring for All

 

 

Common Misconceptions About Self-Care

Self-care is not selfish! The difference between the two is that self-care focuses on taking care of one’s needs in a positive way, whereas being selfish means being indulgent about one’s wants even if it hurts others. Remember, when we take care of ourselves, we have more capacity to care for others than if we ignore our own needs!

Self-care is not about lavish spending! It’s good to do things that we enjoy, like a massage at the spa, but not every self-care activity involves spending a lot. Just taking the time to have a good night’s sleep is considered self-care. 😀

Self-care is not a weakness! We may be expected to work like overachieving outgoing machines, but hey, even machines break down without regular maintenance, so why wouldn’t our human selves do so too?

Self-care doesn’t have to be all time-consuming! Even taking a few minutes to quietly meditate in the midst of a busy day is self-care. 🙂

Self-care doesn’t have to be healthy! Sure, eating healthy is self-care, but having a delicious dessert every now and then is good for your overall health, even if it’s not exactly fantastic for your body. 🍰

If you’d like to read more about self-care, there are loads of other articles such as the following:


My Self-Care List

These are a few self-care activities I do to make sure I’m at my best, and this is the list! It doesn’t include everything, just a few major items, and it may or may not work for you but I hope it helps you in defining yours. 😀

Alone Time

Because I’m an outgoing person, I’ve often been mistaken as an extrovert (social activities = gain energy), but I’m an introvert through and through (social activities = massive energy drain). Whenever there’s a party or gathering of any sort, I need alone time before the event to “stock up” on the mental energy required and after the event to replenish the lost energy. I get grumpy if I don’t have enough alone time. 🙁

Story Time: There was once a year or so ago that my company department was arranging a social event on a weekend; not just a Saturday, but the entire Saturday and Sunday! I declined the invitation, knowing the weekend is important for me to recharge before another working week. Apparently the big boss wasn’t happy with the turnout and tasked the managers with finding out why, and I told my (nice) manager truthfully that I needed the weekend to recharge, or it’ll negatively affect my work performance the following week. Thankfully nothing happened after that. 🙂

Hobby Time (Usually Goes with Alone Time)

Those who have known me for a while will know: I have loads of hobbies – I play video games and the piano, I read Japanese comics and random articles around the internet, I write fantasy stories, I draw (very occasionally), etc – I don’t have time for all of them! So I know the dangers of being addicted to our hobbies. 😆

I enjoy “doing” things more than “watching”, which is why I don’t watch movies very often, and I like those that required me to explore my creativity and plan things out, like writing stories and playing Minecraft (a video game not unlike a digital toy bricks set). 📝🎮

Getting Enough Sleep, Eating on Time, Etc

Being a highly sensitive person, I’m sensitive to loads of things and become really grumpy when I get too hungry or don’t get enough sleep! And you really wouldn’t want to know me when I’m grumpy, so I make sure to get those needs met. 😆

Getting a Little Sun and Exercise Here and There

I’ll admit – I’m lazy and I hate exercising! There were a couple of years I spent going to the gym once a week, but geez, the mental effort it requires to get my behind over to the gym and take the 1-hour session seriously makes the whole thing – in my opinion – just not worth it!

So now that the gym subscription has expired, I try to look for little ways to exercise that doesn’t require me to go out of the way and expand a tremendous amount of effort to do. Examples include: walking to the nearby cafe for lunch instead of driving there, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, sneaking in a mini exercise session between activities. 💪

Reducing Contact with Those Who Negatively Impact Me

There are so many individuals in this world, where each individual is unique, so there is bound to be disagreements and conflict of beliefs in relationships, romantic or otherwise. But, for me, a relationship still works out if both parties agree to disagree or stick to friendly debates, because a relationship is a two-way road. 🙂

But what if one of both parties in a relationship are one of the following?

  • Constantly turns conversations to themself without listening
  • Putting the other person down and throwing insults at them in a disagreement
  • Always insisting they’re right and the other person is wrong
  • Doesn’t do any of the emotional work; the other person has to do whatever planning, caring, etc

There are more examples, but basically these are the people who will negatively impact me (making me feel worse than before interacting with them). As I become more and more confidence (mostly thanks to all the incredibly supportive people I’ve met, both in and outside this blog!), I’ve come to realise it’s better for my mental and emotional health if I were to reduce contact from these negatively impacting people and I become happier as a result. 🙂

But when this happens, usually society will push back with “But they’re faaaaamily!” and “Give them a chance!” Society believes that every single relationship is a happy thing they frown upon those who reduce or cut off contact with others, treating them as if they’re abominable monsters who revel in hate. That’s another whole can of worms that will probably go on forever if I were to start on it, so I’ll leave this last line about that:

In the end, this is my life and it’s my choice to go about things as I wish, and if others believe my choices are wrong, well, they’re free to whatever they think in their own lives!

(A Very Long) Story Time: Remember the major personal issue I mentioned earlier that involved me making the conscious decision to do more self-care? It’s a bit of a long story but I’ll try to make it brief. 🙂

My father has always been the kind of person who is an armchair commander who thinks he’s always right and his words are absolute commands, and if one ever gets into a “debate” with him, he’ll use personal insults (i.e. “How stupid can you get?”) while shoving his points down their throat. So one day, in the family chat group with my parents, siblings and husband, he did just that – he gave a command to my mother, and when she gave reasons why not, he proceeded to say things like, “You’ve always been the cause of our problems all these years,” and, “You always do things because of your ego and pride.”

This is a common situation growing up, and as kids we were all told to shut up. But this time, for the first time ever, I stood up to him (in the chat group) and said, “Hey, would you two please take this offline? Also, saying stuff like that is very negative and doesn’t help the situation.”

And my father proceeded to lay all of his anger onto me, like a screaming banshee that has been prodded, writing essay-long texts that basically tell me they’ve always been protecting us and how I’m an ungrateful daughter. I told him, “I disagree that we’ve been protected all our lives. Anyway, let’s drop this conversation, unless you want to deteriorate our relationship further.” He continued laying out angry texts despite my explicit request to stop, and I told him that I was done with the conversation and went on ahead to block him on the phone.

After that there was silence for a few weeks. I went into self-reflection mode, knowing I did the right thing but needing to reconcile the fear and anger I’ve felt towards my father growing up. But was that the end? Nope.

My mother, who has always been the pacifier, invited my husband and I over for dinner (via text message) as though nothing has happened. I declined and told her I was taking a break from the relationship with my father and that I didn’t want to see him. Somehow she took it to mean I decided to break up with my father and went on to say things like, “But he’s your father, not an acquaintance or friend!” and, “But he’s had an abusive childhood!” and, “He always says things he doesn’t mean when he’s angry!”

I personally hated this kind of reasoning, as if having a bad past or being angry means my father had little choice in his actions (and what about my siblings’ and my emotional neglectful and abusive childhood? And what about the anger we feel?), so I told her bluntly, “A bad past doesn’t define the choices we have today. Angry or not, he chose to ignore my explicit request to stop the conversation at the risk of deteriorating our relationship.” I also added, “I’d still like to see you, just away from the house and separately from him.”

When she couldn’t talk me out of it, she said, “Breaking up with your father means breaking up with me too; we’re a unit and there are no secrets among us.” And then we exchanged I-love-yous and goodbyes. 🙁

I’m a little sad, but I realise it’s a situation borne of choices – mine to no longer accept my father’s put downs, and my mother’s to stick with my father instead of me. Regardless, at least I’m no longer in an unhealthy relationship where I’m constantly worrying about being put down, and I’m thankful I have supportive people in my life. I think I’ll be fine. 🙂


Thanks for reading this all the way to the end! Do let me know what you think or share your own self-care activities. 😀

~Nicolle ❤

A Short Self-Compassionate Letter

Dear Self,

I’m so proud of you for writing this post, it’s certainly better late than never! I’m also proud of how calm you handled both situations with your family, and how stable and grounded you are when they happened. I’m glad you’re taking the steps to take care of yourself; do know that you matter as much as everyone else. ❤


Read More on Collaboration with a Purpose: Health for All

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19 thoughts on “Collaboration with a Purpose: Health for All – Self-Care

  1. Excellent, Nicolle! I love what you wrote. We need to take care of ourselves. I’m glad you were able to get your feelings out about your situation with your father. I know that’s very personal for you. I think we all have to do whatever is best for our psyche. Have a great day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much, Ipuna! I agree that we have to do the best for our psyche, even if it means going against the standard culture or societal “rules” (who made up those rules anyway?). Have a great day too! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Brilliant post, Nicolle! GREAT reminders we should all keep in mind. I’m definitely going to come back to this when I need to. 😉❤
    I hope you’re doing OK, and just so you know, you have the strength within you to carry on regardless, along with a beautiful heart. Sending you so much love. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much for the kind words and for reading and commenting! I’m happy you think so highly of me. ❤

      How have you been? I’m sorry I haven’t been up to date with your blog (I haven’t been up to date with a lot of things 😅), and hope you’re doing well. But even if obstacles come in your way (as life likes to do that to us), I’m sure you have the strength to go on and a beautiful heart to go with it as well! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s alright! I do miss you! I hope you’ve been keeping well! I completely understand about not keeping up to date with things – It’s been a bit mad my end as well. I’ve been up and down lately (as you say, life likes to throw curveballs at us!) I hope you are doing good. I’m always here with a listening ear whenever life gets in your way! 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. And I miss you too! Thanks for supporting and listening as always, I hope you’re doing well despite the life roller coaster! I’m also here to listen if you want; we could do that via email too if you were to use my Contact page. 😀❤

        Like

  3. I’m very happy to see your post, Nicolle. We need more self-care and to realize that taking time for ourselves is necessary.

    As for your father’s behavior, all you can do is what you did. Draw your boundary line. Hold that boundary line. And if anyone else doesn’t like it, too bad.

    With your mother, I hope she’ll understand that you aren’t leaving forever — you just can’t handle it right now. And you want your father to respect you as the adult you are, which you didn’t see at all in his recent behavior.

    It’s great you wrote this blog, even though I know it must’ve been difficult. Do take care of yourself, keep writing (as Sadaf said), and remember, we’re in your corner! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks very much for the kind words, Barb! I’m happy to have you and this awesome collaboration who are supportive of me; starting this blog last year was one of the best things I’ve ever done and you’ve all helped me build my confidence and self-esteem to what it is now. ❤️

      Ah, that was the word that slipped my mind; boundary! It’s funny how much I see that word and yet I forget it just when I wanted to write it in this post… I suppose it shows how new I am with the concept, but hey, better late than never. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, yeah, that happens to me a lot! It’s a little annoying that a word hangs at the back of my mind but I don’t catch it, but it comes to me eventually. It’s like a sneeze that doesn’t want to happen. 😆

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Nicolle, so glad to finally read your post. Your writings are a proof of your simplicity and clarity. Don’t worry, hopefully things will get better super soon at your end atleast with the support of your husband and the support from us – the ones who make up this awesome collaboration team. Takecare and keep writing.

    Liked by 2 people

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