As a mum of 4, a psychotherapist, an academic researcher, a wife and everything else (in no particular order although the 1st commands more of my time than anyone else!), it’s generally hard to find time to look after myself. I fight for that right often putting others needs before my own.
In the past, a result of lack of self care often ended in finding myself in a place of isolation, even though I’d be surrounded by others.
I ended up a therapist because I ended up in therapy! Nothing wrong in that and I’m happy to admit. A accumulation of lack of self care resulted in a lack of confidence and therapy actually saved me. By connecting with others and exploring my pains, loneliness and isolation I found my most trusting friend Allah (God). The old Rumi saying became true “I searched for God and found myself, I searched myself and found God.”
Connecting with others, began by expressing my vulnerabilities and my need for assistance.
My self care is connection and I do this in many ways;
1. Connecting with my Creator. Daily dua (prayer). expressing my needs and asking is the hardest part. I usually begin with “Allah (God) I need you.”
2. Connecting with the Quran. I spend a little time each day journaling with the Quran. I find taking a verse and reflecting on it as if it was about my life helps me to find connection and solace. Extracting meaning, seeking knowledge, applying what I learn is a boost like no other for me.
3. Connecting with good people, people who have shown over time that they have Godly characters and their intentions contain ‘taqwa’ God consciousness. Good company inspires me.
4. Connecting with professionals. All good psychotherapists have a therapist! Also monthly connection and debrief with my supervisor and peers in continual professional development.
5. Connecting with my spouse. This unfortunately is lower on my list, not out of choice but because with 4 kids, jobs, community work and studies (we’re both still studying!) time for us both is hard to find. When we do make that space it overrides all other connections, it’s not as powerful as connecting with Allah but Allah has given us solace, mercy, companionship and comfort in one another. Our connection with our spouse is from Allah.
6. Connecting with the girls! Nothing like a good laugh or cry with friends.
7. Connecting with the outdoors. Again unfortunately low on my list and would like it to be higher, but a walk in the hills and woods is inspiring, calming and refreshing.
8. Connecting to iTunes! Podcasts and YouTube talks on my Deen (religion) or TED talks – love these. My other iTunes love is connecting with Coldplay! Yes well some would say haram, but to be honest it just takes me away for a short while.
9. Connecting with food. Love to cook for the family and guests, something wholesome in feeding others.
10. Connecting with my family. I just have my brother left in my life, my parents have both died. But we connect and remember the fun times and the sad times. I’m reminded I’m not the only one missing them.
11. Connecting with the community. This is find the most challenging, I’m a bit of an introvert by nature. I’m not great at baking cakes for the neighbours and all that! But once or twice a year you’ll find me involved in a community project and every time I’m reminded how much of a boost it gives me in giving time to be with others.
12. Connecting with my physical body! I go for a massage or chiropractic treatment, I check my diet (occasionally!), I go to the gym (on and off!) I get my hair done even though it’s covered by hijab! But mostly I find the best body connection is going to treat myself to a little shopping!
13. Connecting with education – I find self care in academia strange enough! I’ve turned my studies into self development. Nothing like nourishment for the mind.
14. Connecting with my inner child. Best advice I had on this was from my old therapist. Watch and witness your young child, crouch down and see the world through her eyes. It transformed early motherhood and reconnected me to simple wonder and experience.
15. Connection with you. Sharing this is self care, admitting we’re only human and we haven’t been created alone, so why be alone?
Hope you find this useful, love and prayers to you all 🙂