A brand new month - the last month of quarter one - is upon us.
I don’t know if it’s just me but it seems time moves really quick these days. It was just yesterday when the year started, with schools opening and businesses and workplaces starting up again at almost full capacity since the COVID-19 lockdown initially started.
I recall having to start work in January and feeling so exhausted as if I hadn’t been on leave at all. At work, although I continued to work from home, I literally hit the ground running. Preparing for my daughter’s school day also added to the pressure. Listen, waking up at 5am every morning is no joy for me because I love my sleep. I always wish to sleep a little longer, especially on those days when wrestled with insomnia throughout the night. Anyway, I have slowly found my rhythm, my body and mind have acclimatised and it’s not so bad anymore.
With so much happening around us, March presents an opportune time for us to reflect, rewire, and readjust our focus. For instance, if you’ve set goals for yourself at the beginning of the year, this period is a time to sit and review how your first quarter went. Think about what you’ve done, achieved, lessons learnt, and what moves you need to make in quarter 2 to get closer to your goal(s).
The first two months of the year are always high-pressure months and as such, we can neglect other important aspects of our lives, which contribute to the essence of who we are. With that in mind, I put together a March Self-Care guide for you and I.
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1. Pray and Meditate
As spiritual beings, self-care begins with tending to our soul needs. Prayer and meditation are the tools recommended for soul rejuvenation. When we pray, we work actively toward building intimacy with God. Prayer can take many forms such as singing worship hymns, prayer journaling, etc. The beauty about prayer is that it can be said at any time and at any place, and, about anything. When you take a bathroom break, you can utter a short prayer behind that closed door. When you walk into a meeting, you can pray in your heart for God to be your mouthpiece. This March, speak to God at all times. Don’t limit yourself to pray only in “appealing” places.
On the other hand, meditation allows you to go into a state of consciousness to be able to connect with oneself or with the world. There’s various forms of meditation and you need to find what works for you. I practise mindful meditation and most days I do this through listening to soothing, relaxing sounds. My favourite is offered by Tim Janis. When I am stressed and need to concentrate, especially on work, I listen to the White Noise Podcast. On the point of prayer, and spending time with God, it is important to meditate on scripture that you’ve read in the Bible. Doing this allows you to embed into your soul, the truth from God, which you will need as you go about your day.
Both prayer and meditation require intentional quite time. Prayer and meditation are the two ingredients that lay the foundation for an intimate relationship with the Source of Life and a deeper connection with the self. So, schedule time and find a comfortable spot for this divine appointment with the Maker and be fully engaged in the process.
In this era we live in, busy is glorified but rest is criticised and labelled as laziness. People work themselves to a pulp all in the name of “making a name for themselves” or in the pursuit of multiple streams of income. People walk around wearing exhaustion as badges of honour. Whether you realise it or not, the pressure that comes from working a 9-5 and then doubling up with a 5-9 to work on your side hustles is insurmountable and weighs heavily on your mental health.
This is why taking time out to rest is important. My late mom used to say, “mosebetsi ha o fele, ho fela motho” (literally meaning: “work doesn’t finish but a person does”). When you’ve overworked yourself, you feel the brunt. Anxiety peaks. Stress levels elevate and sleep deprivation kicks in.
Amidst everything you have to get done, prioritise your mental health. Be intentional about taking the time to rest. Take time to slow down and breathe. Rest is important to recharge and to refuel. When you are well rested, you are able to perform at your optimum.
3. Eat right
What you feed your body will either support it in nurturing ways or deplete it. Make wholesome and nutritious meals a part of your lifestyle: at home, school and at work. Good nutrition goes beyond weight loss. Amongst others, good nutrition helps with improved functioning of the brain, better mood and energy levels and reduced risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, etc.
Equally important is drinking sufficient liquids, mainly water (please note sugary juices don’t count here). If you aren’t particularly a water fan, spice things up by adding fruits to your water to have it flavoured. Rooibos tea is also good option to choose because of the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties it contains.
Fact: Did you know that water from a glass bottle tastes better and fresher than from a plastic bottle? Try it for yourself. Besides the fresher and crisper taste, you are also doing your bit to save the planet by using less plastic.
4. Get active
Now, if you are like me, getting active may feel like a death sentence (extreme, I know, haha). But this is how I feel at times and possibly the reason I struggle with this part of self-care. There’s a myriad of benefits for being active and for our holistic wellbeing, so, we should engage in these activities, no matter how we feel.
If you struggle in this area like I do, find a partner to do this with you. Some things are just better when you do them with someone who will not only encourage you but hold you accountable too. Because I want to get serious in this aspect, I’ve asked my sister to be my accountability partner. I’ve asked my husband to take walks with me. And sometimes, I join my daughter on the trampoline.
Being active isn’t just about getting that six-pack but more about improving your fitness levels; it sharpens our thinking and helps reduce anxiety, stress and sleep deprivation.
So this month, get active. If you are alone, not part of a gym or you just don’t know where to start, YouTube is your friend J. If you want to get a tech break, playing with your kids is another way you can go about it. Whatever you do, get off that chair or bed and MOVE YOUR LIMBS.
When was the last time you read for leisure? A novel or an autobiography of someone who inspires you. We tend to read a lot for work, school, our businesses, but not so much for leisure. Reading for leisure is a much needed escape. Books let us travel nations and allow us to go on adventures we can’t physically experience.
I love reading but I had stopped for a very long time after I became a mom. But when lockdown came, I went back and now I can’t go without that smell of paper. My goal this year is to read at least 12 books – one per month. It’s March now and I only started on my second one. If you need accountability partners, join my Facebook Book Club here.
Grab a book and build up your brain!
Self-care is synonymous with self-love. Love yourself enough to take care of what may seem as your intangible needs. All big and great things start with the little and mundane.
Don’t wait. Start today. Your mental health depends on it.
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