- Mashiat Mutmainnah
10 Best Ways South Asians can Practice Self-Care Today
As a part of the South Asian diaspora, we cannot run away from the duality that surrounds our identity. With the onset of the pandemic, many of us have had to move back home. It can be tough to navigate the unhealthy aspects of our culture whilst also trying to stay calm and productive. This is why self-care is super important.
Here are 10 ways how you can get some space for your mental health.
Aim for Intentional Social Media Use
Many of us who have watched The Social Dilemma may feel that you need to completely limit or erase social media from your life. But going cold turkey can be hard to maintain in the long run.
Instead, aim for intentional social media use. Follow people you genuinely align with. Turn off unnecessary phone, email and banner notifications. Schedule social media breaks so that you have dedicated time for social media use and other work.
Create some rituals, just for you.
Human beings love routine. So try creating a quick morning ritual that helps you ease into the day or a short evening ritual that helps you get ready for bed. Rituals can help create much needed alone time for yourself.
Morning ritual ideas: Wake up, make you bed, eat a delicious breakfast, journal, listen to your favorite South Asian artist, meditate, write your to-do-list , or dress up for the day.
Evening rituals: Change into PJs, brew some masala chai, have a relaxing coconut oil massage, clean up your workspace, or indulge in a quick skin care routine.
Nature has been proven to calm the nervous system down. If you live near a park, try taking a mid-day break or lunch break in nature. You will get some exercise and feel much calmer and relaxed as you tackle the rest of your to-dos.
What am I supposed to do with this blank piece of paper? What do I write?
To those who are new to journaling, it can be a daunting task. In a culture where we can be silenced for stating our feelings, avoiding them becomes a habit. Journaling not only helps you sit with your feelings, but it can also save your life. A study shows that only 15 minutes a day over a 4-month period can help improve your liver functionality and lower your blood pressure. Furthermore, writing down your thoughts can help boost your memory and dispel the negative narratives that are going on in your head.
You don’t have to be Rumi or Tagore to journal and you definitely do not need to write a whole page or even half a page. Grab some hot chai, your favorite pen and try writing one line on how you feel or one thing you are grateful for. You will be surprised how one line can help you get into the flow and feel lighter and brighter.
Do something mindful
If meditation is your cup of tea, go for it. But mindfulness doesn't only mean sitting quietly, cross-legged and humming “Omm”. Mindfulness can mean doing any activity that helps you get into a state of flow. This can be taking a walk, cook a delicious meal slowly, folding laundry , reading a book etc.
Try to find at least 5 minutes everday where you can do something mindful.
Disengage from toxicity
Unfortunately, living at home means that sometimes there will be clashes and conflicts. If anything feels toxic or triggering, disengage from those conversations.
You are not obliged to convince others or change their minds and you are definitely not obliged to sit through and listen to toxic comments.
Figure out what are your boundaries and stick to them.The first few times, you may feel guilty or ashamed for enforcing them. That is okay. With more practice, you will recognize boundaries are there to protect your peace, and nothing is more important that your mental health.
Schedule in frequent, regular breaks
This can be a difficult one. Since we are all at home, it may seem that every aspect of your life is molding into one space. Aim to take regular, frequent breaks every 45 min - 1 hour of intense work.
Not only will this help you decompress and compartmentalize, but it will also help you feel refreshed as you come back to your workspace.
Remember, rest is not a reward, it is an essential need to function healthily. You deserve and need adequate rest whenever you please.
Exercise, exercise, exercise
Not surprised? I know we sound like a broken record, but for real tho, exercise is scientifically proven to improve your mood and your long-term health. The release of endorphins can alleviate stress, improve your sleep, reduce anxiety, and even reduce the chances of getting dementia significantly.
We admit, it can be difficult to get started when you are on a downstream. But you just need to get started. Try to find an action that helps you get started for 15-20 minutes every day. This could be laying out your workout clothes the night before, tying up your favorite sneakers or putting on a exercise video.
Also, don’t forget to have fun! You don’t need to do pull ups or bench 300 pounds to exercise. A 15-min walk, 20-minute Zumba session, or 30 minutes of yoga all count as exercise. Just get up and get your body moving! Your mind will thank you.
Schedule weekly calls with loved ones and friends
One of the reasons why staying in all the time feels weird is because we are social creatures. We need love and support from others.
Consider scheduling weekly calls or chats with friends or a loved one. Watch a movie together virtually or play a game together. Scheduling in chats with your support system will also give you something to look forward to. It will also give you the opportunity to support your loved ones and help you feel fulfilled emotionally.
This goes without saying. We live in a world that never sleeps. We spend our days behind glaring blue screens, chasing material things at the expense of our health and binging Netflix in the wee hours of the night.
Sleep deprivation and deficiency is not something to be proud of. Sleep literally saves our life. Poor sleepers are at a higher risk for obesity, heart disease, depression and poor immune function. Now that is a deadly combination. Deep REM sleep helps restore and repair our cells.
So aim to limit screen time before bed by switching Netflix bingeing with an indulgent evening routine. Recognize that if you don't have your health, you can’t achieve all those brilliant goals you have set up for yourself. Try to discipline yourself to practice proper sleep hygiene. Your sleep and your mental health are the most important factors of your self care routine.
This is a lot of information and it may feel like you need to do all them. But self care is not about perfection. It about doing what feels right for you. Start by picking one of these methods and doing the smallest possible thing to practice it in your life. If it doesn't feel right, choose another one. As long as you are consistent in putting your mental health first, you will find a self-care method that works for you. Good luck!