Self-care: No Longer An Option

Self-care: No Longer An Option

When you start caring for yourself, caring for others would be so much more effective. The best version of yourself largely depends on how you treat yourself.


COVID-19 imposed repeated lockdowns and confinement in the containment zone deprived us from ordering anything beyond essentials on e-commerce platforms. Without realising that the services have resumed, I was surprised to receive a package delivered to me addressed in my wife’s name. “Someone has sent you a gift?” She asked, “Really?” Then with excitement, she looked at the label only to discover that it was something that she had ordered for herself. “I guess I’m the only one who loves me,” she teasingly quipped.


Beyond the Transitory Amusement


Beyond the transitory amusement, the need for loving our own self began to take a deeper significance and beyond the momentary impact of such gifts. The domestic chores due to Work From Home led many of us to try different things never tried in the past. Cooking, sharing significant experiences with family etc. made us more active in household chores. Humorous instances of male colleagues dying to be in the office and writing applications to their supervisors also did the rounds. As we unravel the humour, the practicalities involved came to the fore. Those who considered ‘official work’ as their ‘life’ found themselves challenged. We as HR leaders possibly supported our struggling staff in the new work arrangement.


However, I am unsure if it has helped us in the aspects of self-care. It is not always easy to love oneself. Self-pity, Self-condemnation, Selfdiscounting can be miserable and needs as much attention as does the bitterness felt toward another person. At times, we do not treat ourselves as a well-wisher of self. While we always expect to be treated better by others, let us pause to think if we are treating ourselves any better? With the changing meaning of life, it is high time to pay attention to these facets. If you can love yourself, you are already on much stronger ground.


One of the best things we can do for our future is to learn to be kind to ourselves. Research affirms that choosing to dwell on the negative is unhealthy. Giving back to our organisation or society mandates that we invest in ourselves; as the saying goes, a healed man can only heal others.


A man goes to a specialist doctor and complains that he experiences pain irrespective of what is being touched by him. Instead of treating him to a shot or giving him a few pills like a general physician, the specialist advises a complete scan. The scan showed a broken finger. Let me confess, this was on the lighter side!


Self-care is the Best Care


However, let us not ignore the morals involved, since we, at times, behave in a similar fashion. When we leave our emotional, social, physical, financial, spiritual bruises unattended, we compromise on our mental as also our physical health. How can we envisage a “well workforce” if we are not “well” ourselves? We may be pure in our intent but we are needed to remain aligned as well.


The very familiar commandment ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself” has the principle of selfcare encompassed within. It means that before you care for others, you must have a healthy sense of selflove or self-care. When you start caring for yourself, caring for others would be so much more effective. The best version of yourself largely depends on how you treat yourself.


It is encouraging to read how organisations have been managing uncompromised work deliveries. And one is positive that as you are reading this you will be nodding your head in affirmation and remembering your employees. Given the extraordinary circumstances where life has witnessed a harsher reality, personally and closely, it certainly mandates us to take care of ourselves too. Are we feeding ourselves with the required goodness? Taking time for yourself is not a bad thing, rather it is the opposite. Not only does rest enable our bodies to recharge it also allows our mind and spirit to reconnect with the inner self. Take sleep seriously, so that you do not slip into burnout.


What Holds You Back from Self-care?


In our own life experiences, we know our limitations and the realities that others do not. It is also true that we have the potential to deal with those aspects of our lives. There are things that you can change and there are things that you cannot change. Whenever you compare with other people, you are tempted and tend to develop feelings of inferiority and it challenges your self-acceptance. Remember, comparison is the thief of joy.


Why You Should Care for Yourself?


Well firstly, this is an investment that cannot be outsourced. It will be unrealistic to expect someone else to fill the shoes. Secondly, if you do not care for yourself, as leaders, how can we ask people under us to take care of themselves?


How do You Commit to Selfcare?


You need to acknowledge and accept that you are what you are. Practising gratitude as our attitude is a strong antidote to deal with the negative vibes. Thank the Almighty for things that did not happen alongside all the things that happened.


What are the Possible Selfcare Movements?


Keep staring at something that is big and provokes you to appreciate the goodness. It can be a sky decked up with shades of clouds; it can be watching nature’s beauty rather than watching the increasingly unhelpful and negative news. In addition, doing something beyond the usual is a sure shot boost. Be creative, innovate things, you are surely more than your current self is.


When was the Last Time You did Something Exclusively for Yourself?


Pick up a hobby that refreshes you. It can be nurturing a plant, doing interiors, decluttering your surroundings, warding off the irritants and I can tell you that any good hobby can be a means of joy, peace, and healing.


Practising a different kind of mindfulness can also reduce your anxiety levels. Enjoy some music, play with your children, support your spouse and cultivate a habit of catching people doing the near right things. I know that these things are not rocket science, but the fact is that we still find ourselves challenged to practice these things in our lives. Support yourself with kind thoughts, affirming words, and self-empowering actions.


We need to learn to pay attention to our body’s signals and the emotional state of our being to the demands we place on ourselves. Yes, there are seasons that require extra time and energy, but even in those trying times do not compromise on self-care. If you repetitively ignore your body’s signals, work without breaks, live on junk food, and run on caffeine you are closer to burnout. Knowing your ‘speed limit’ allows you to know when it is time to rest, refuel, rejuvenate and reengineer life to restore your energy and soul. It may be the way you have treated your bodies thus far that makes you believe your healthiest days are behind you. The good news is that there is hope and scope. Taking care of yourself is not selfish, it is good stewardship.


Let me say that work and life can no longer be viewed through different lenses. Work is an inherent part of life and vice-versa - it all depends on how you work out your life. Remember this, self-care is no longer an option. Take care!


Jaydeep Das is International Head – People & Culture, Children Believe, a part of ChildFund Alliance that works globally in over 60 countries to empower children. Prior to this, he has provided his leadership to leading INGOs like ChildFund International as Director HR, Administration & IT & WorldVision besides other Corporates at a senior level. Jaydeep has been helping organisations to augment impact through people, purpose, programmes and processes by strategic transformational interventions.


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