A bit about me:
I am a full-time working mum of a toddler. Adapting to motherhood was a huge learning curve for me. It wasn’t easy and I felt I was sinking under the pressure. During this time, I learn the vital importance of looking after myself. It sounds like the cliché of your parents always telling you “to look after yourself”. However, what I failed to recognised was the significance of this. In my head that statement meant brush your teeth twice daily, making sure you eat healthy, sleeping early as well as not being in any particular rush to get from A-Z. My parents would always worry about me rushing to work, about not running for a train or bus. I am not taking away from these things, as all of them are of equal and vital importance for oneself. BUT there are so many other ways I have learnt to really look after myself, especially when time (I feel) is so limited:
What works for me:
1) TALKING: Be aware of your support structure, you may not always think it is there, be it your neighbor, your best friend, your family; know that there is always someone to talk to, and IF no one is available there is always One who is… place your hands in supplication and speak to your Creator. Speaking to someone is a great stress reliever, unburdening yourself, speaking it out loud, helped me tremendously.
2) WRITING: If however, you don’t want to talk things out, you could put your thoughts down on paper. I started a blog not long after my daughter was born to help me put all my concerns for the future, anxieties and insecurities down. Just so they were out of my head. I was able to put it all down in a diary and create the blog which helped tremendously; especially when you see so many people going through or thinking the same things. We are all on the same path, we are all struggling and we must remember that.
3) ZONING OUT: Take a step back and find your “me time” – for me it was escaping in a book or zoning out to an episode of friends. Find what best helps you to zone out. You require your wind down time to. Everyone’s lives are busy, but you have to find the thing that best suits you for your own alone time. It helps you feel refreshed, more human.
4) LIMITING SOCIAL MEDIA: Stay away / limit social media. Switch off that phone. Come off insta. With FOMO (fear of missing out) prevalent right now, you truly need to be comfortable being alone by yourself, in order to start loving yourself again. Instagram, Facebook, twitter, snapchat these are all snap shot moments of someone’s life. Never feel that you are inferior in any way shape or form. Never compare yourself. Everyone has their own battles to go through, and we are only ever given as much as we can bear. I would often sit late at night when I was nursing my daughter, staring at these beautiful pictures of people on Instagram, and I could not help but compare. But if nothing else, this just drags you deeper down a dark hole. When I started limiting my interactions on social media, or even using my phone; I started living in the moment more. I started appreciating what I had, creating more memories and loving life that bit more.
5) RELIGION: What helped me most is knowing that Allah tests those who He loves. When you find yourself going through a truly troubling time, remember that. Remember too, that you are not alone. You are never given a burden more than you can bear and find strength in that.
6) PRAYER: I sit and do 2 rakats, and immediately afterwards my head feels clearer. It’s only five minutes of your time. Instead of putting away the washing or whatever urgent task that’s making you all flustered – hold your hands up in prayer. Sit there and pray and focus on every aspect of the prayer. I guarantee your head will feel so much lighter by the time your through. You will find a new sense of clarity, new calmness, renewed strength.
7) VOLUNTEERING: Help someone else out. Volunteer for a charity and remember charity does start at home. Help your mum / dad / brothers / sisters / cousins / neighbors out. Do something selflessly for someone else. Knowing you are being the bright light in their life when they are struggling would also help you combat whatever stress you are going through, but never take on too much.
At the end of the day you find what best works for you. Everyone has their own limitations, time constraints and internal struggles. I hope by reading the above, this has given you some ideas of what could possibly work for you.
Find the best fit for you in your life.