Category Archives: self-care

Pivoting Mentally with These Unprecedented Times

This is a very humbling year. In these first six months of 2020 I am learning to step back, go with the flow and take each day as it comes.

I am someone who plans way ahead and thrive on structure in my life. This isn’t something that 2020 is entertaining, so for my peace of mind and mental health, I am learning to pivot, relax and take things as they come.

I was going to Jamaica to see family in two weeks. Well, it ain’t happening because if I leave Japan there is no getting back in as a foreigner. My tickets were booked months ago because I am a planner and it is usually more affordable months in advance. The optimist in me waited months and months in the hope that I would still be ale to pull this off but alas this is not happening. Let’s not talk about how some airlines are still inflexible in these times.

I let go of that which I can’t control. Am I losing some money? Am I missing out on seeing family and loved ones? Yes, but is it for the greater good of staying healthy and not bringing this virus home to them? Absolutely yes! This is me talking to myself and making peace with what my reality is now.

I am learning to plan long term but adjust my expectations with the reality of each day. We live in hope that this virus will be under control in a few months or less but we really don’t know. I still have long term plans and goals. I am still budgeting and saving, now more than ever, because I see tough economic times ahead. I am also in the mental zone where I know I will not travel in the way I did before for quite some time. I also know that I will not be as comfortable going out and about for leisure for quite some time.

I am actively keeping paranoia at bay. Do you know when you are out around others and someone gets into a coughing fit? Thankfully, here we all wear masks but, you know how you just instinctively want to escape from this person. I really don’t want to be unkind to others while trying to be safe. I don’t want to be the one with a coughing fit either. The times can keep us on tenterhooks so we have no peace. This is something to be on guard about.

I am prioritising periods of rest and relaxation. I have always been a homebody, so there is no place like my own space. On Fridays I ensure that I get all the items I need to make my meals on the weekend. I have taken to coming home on Fridays and not stepping outside again until Monday when I go to work. This is like a mini staycation for me since I do my chores but make time to chill on my couch and read for hours. I also do some stretches and movements inside to work out some. This is my escape and since I live alone its just perfection. It is hard wearing a mask for hours on end in this humidity, so on Saturdays and Sundays and enjoy this freedom. I focus on slowing down, relaxing and just being. This is an act of self-care and helps me to pivot as needed in these times.

I keep hope alive. I do believe these times will pass and it is important to know this, so I remind myself of this when I start feeling a drag on my spirit. I listen to my gospel playlists, read my Bible, pray, worship, cook stuff I love, talk with my people, take time to be thankful…

In these months, I have seen nature doing all it does without interruption and I am reminded that good things are happening, even in the midst of these trying times. I am experiencing many of these good things and by focusing on these I am walking through the new normal with joy.

Life is truly a gift and it is worth living well even/especially in these unprecedented times.

Being Calm in Periods of Uncertainty

We live in uncertain times. Everywhere we turn, we hear news of the coronavirus. It feels unrelenting. If we are not careful we start living life on the edge and take on a cloak of fear. We can however, cultivate a sense of calmness even in these times. Our mental health and physical health require that we focus on this. It is a form of self-care.

I know, the word self-care is banded about and it may ironically cause people to become more stressed, if they think about the fact that they don’t have time to care for themselves. Practicing a healthy mind set costs nothing. It involves some discipline and effort to view things positively when everything in you wants to do the opposite.

I am a woman of faith. I choose to live by faith, especially in these times when it seems everything is out of control. We live on the earth, which is imperfect. Thus, trials, illnesses and hardships will come but we also know from experience that there are many great things we have, even in the midst of these negative elements. We have friends, family, sunshine, laughter, food, shelter, jobs, hospitals with medical professionals who are working for and with us, keep thinking and adding to the list.

It is important to remember that the bad times do not cause everything to be bad. It may feel like it but this doesn’t make it true.

It is important to focus on being calm among the heavy atmosphere of worry and fear, that permeates our world now. Does worrying actually help us to prepare for the worst? Does it rob us of enjoying the good things we have now? Does it help us mentally and emotionally?

How often are you following news about what is happening in China, South Korea, Italy, Japan and so on? Do you look at the maps to show how may people are infected everywhere? This is necessary but it can really rest on us if we do this over and over again each day. It is interesting that we don’t hear much about the number of people who get better. You have to dig to find this information.

Scale back on how often you read about the spread of the virus. Focus more on eating well, washing your hands and practicing good hygiene, as you do your part to care for your health. Also, focus on being calm in this storm. Make your home an oasis of peace and enjoy this often.

I know God isn’t somewhere surprised about what is happening now. I may sound naive, but I choose to believe and walk by faith, at all times. I pray everyone can find peace in these times and always. It is well.

Have the Conversation and Don’t Bottle up Stuff

Sometimes keeping the peace means having a difficult conversation to get some things off your mind. It takes courage but the weight that falls off after the conversation is a thing of wonder and beauty. This is self-care because bottling up things inside cause stress levels to rise. Most of us are wary of approaching someone who has offended us in some way to have that conversation. However, if you are anything like me your attitude towards that person will reflect your feelings. These feelings can weigh on you if it is someone you truly care about or see regularly.

How to Prepare for and Approach the Conversation

Pray. Ask God to give you the right words and attitude to effectively convey your points. If you go into the conversation angry and hostile the outcome will not be good. It’s important to show respect for the other person who has wronged you. After all, ‘two wrongs don’t make a right.’ Treat others with the grace you expect to be treated with. I know this is the last thing we want to do but doing what we want to do, in the heat of the moment is counterproductive.

Write down the things you want to address. Approach this formally since it helps to ground you. Also know that you will need to be bold and make eye contact with the person. It is also important to meet privately if it is a friend or relative. For coworkers, for example, get a third person in the room. This is important for accountability. Ideally the person should be in a position of authority and neutral to best serve both of you.

If you can, get to the room before the meeting starts and do some deep breathing exercises and pray to keep a calm composure. Remind yourself about how you would want to be treated if the shoe were on the other foot.

How to Engage in the Conversation

Get to the point. Start off with the person’s name, make eye contact and state why you asked for the meeting. Ask to be allowed to say all you have to say without being interrupted and wait for confirmation on this. Then speak calmly and moderately while making eye contact. If you are someone prone to being nervous in such situations keep a pen in your hand to help with this. Twirl it or do something to help you get through.

Allow the other person to also speak uninterrupted and really listen. You may be surprised to know that in many cases they didn’t mean to offend you and may even be unaware that they offended you. THIS IS WHY THE CONVERSATION IS IMPORTANT INSTEAD OF BOTTLING UP FEELINGS. Believe me, I am talking from experience.

Being Afraid of Confronting Others Sometimes only Gives you Stress

Confrontations are never good. We often think of speaking with someone about something they do to us as confronting them. I see confrontation as approaching someone in anger to try to right a wrong. This is something that often causes more issues.

I believe it is important to approach an individual respectfully, to have a mature/grown conversation about something they have done to you. Timing is key, so we often need some time to cool off before we can do this. We encourage kids to talk it out. We know communication is important in intimate relationships to resolve disputes. Why is it then that we learn to be afraid of telling someone they have offended us? There are some things that can’t be let go of easily. A five minute conversation can do a world of good.

I did this recently and it did a world of good for my peace of mind. Interestingly, we both got to find out things about each other that we did not know. In addition, we also understand our boundaries better. This is self-care in action.

Instead of bottling up stuff, try having a conversation to clear the air. Even if the other person isn’t receptive you gain peace and that is paramount.

Develop the Habit of Spending Quality Time Alone; it’s Self-care

“You live alone!? Don’t you feel lonely?”

Many a conversation has this interjection because the person to whom I am speaking, discovers I live by myself. It happens quite often. (Perhaps it’s a cultural thing here.)

Is living alone synonymous with being lonely?

I wonder if people realise that you can live with others and still be lonely. Loneliness and being alone aren’t two peas in a pod.

Some people like being alone and may even need this for their sanity. There are also others who thrive on being with other people and still others who fall somewhere in the middle. At some point we will be alone. Being alone is great for taking time to develop yourself. Here are some positives from spending time alone:

  • You learn to hear your own thoughts and take the time to reflect and unpack things mentally. This gives clarity and helps you to learn important things about yourself.
  • You take time to do things that help you to rest. This is, if you learn to enjoy the times when you are alone. I mean, to just lie in bed and scroll through the internet or read a book or just be. I gift myself this opportunity on the weekend. It’s self-care.
  • Write down some goals and plans.
  • Dance, sing, clean, cook, take yourself out or just do whatever you want to (responsibly of course).
  • Develop a routine to pamper yourself in your alone time. This is self-care.
  • Go on a retreat by yourself to unwind and relax.
  • You can work on creating a peaceful atmosphere in that time as you de-stress.
Taking it slow…

Indulging in self-care doesn’t mean spending a bunch of money. Something a simple as taking a bath or lying on clean sheets at the end of a long day or eating that meal that hits the spot, soothes you. It’s nice to enjoy being alone at times. If you can’t be at peace when you are with yourself how can you be with others I wonder?

Being alone can be addictive. It’s good to strike a balance.

How to Combat Information Overload, it’s Self-care

Combating information overload is a vital part of self-care. What we feed our minds often becomes what consumes us. The internet has allowed us to have access to news and other information from all over the globe. However, there is much sensationalism in how some elements are presented to us viewers. We need to be intentional about what we consume on the internet and how often we consume certain things, even if it is the news.

Does it ever feel like everything is spiralling out of control after checking out some news websites?

Is it important to know what is happening in the news all the time?

There are some people who can keep up with the news in the world, filter it and don’t get distressed by it. There are also others who are consumed with the seemingly endless travesties featured in the news. I am not saying to ignore them. Learn how much you can handle and proceed accordingly.

Combat information overload by Limiting the Time you Spend on Certain Things

It is important to be aware of what is happening in the world. I find scrolling through certain headlines on one or two news sites help with this. I then read one or two articles and compare how they are reported on the relevant sites. I also look for encouraging stories, to remind myself, that there are also good things happening in the world. I do this for about 30 minutes to an hour and then get on with other things.

This may seem a bit callous but many times what is featured in the news are things we have no direct control over. If it causes you to get into a funk that’s not good for you. Practice self-care and limit your exposure to that.

Balance who or what you watch or follow on Social Media

I balance my viewing of channels that discuss controversial issues with others that show lighter content. When I am watching YouTube to unwind after work, I don’t want to be worked up. This means I watch episodes of house tours and some family blogs which I find relaxing.

Twitter is great for information and some threads just rope you in. I only access it on my computer which stays at home. There was a time where I was on Twitter far too much on my phone. For my self-care, I limited myself and it was a good decision for me. The same can be said of Instagram. Exploring Instagram is a big time suck and if one isn’t careful you come away feeling less than the gem you are.

Listen to Some Music, Chill and Make Something to Nourish your Body

Put the mobile phone away, turn off the notifications and put some good music on when you get home. Make a nutritious meal or what you feel like eating and take your time savouring what you have made. If you live alone, like I do, enjoy the peace of being in your own space alone and relax. This is self-care. Unplug for the whole evening or a few hours before bed. Go for a walk and balance the day.

Here I am talking about information overload and sharing information, how ironic. There is nothing wrong with being informed and knowledgeable about a range of subjects and topics. Ensure that you are taking in what you want to learn and not what others are force feeding you, using different persuasive techniques. Be an informed participant.

If you find yourself feeling disillusioned with everything in the world, check what you are taking into your mind. We often forget to feed our minds with balanced and healthy fare like we should our bodies.

This is my little reminder, like I tell my students, balance what you watch, eat and do, to the best of your ability. It is all a part of self-care. Take care of yourselves.

Meal Prepping Weekly as an act of Self-care

Who looks forward to coming home after a long day of work, to stand over pots cooking dinner? Certainly not me.

Since, I am all about spending responsibly and living debt free, I do not eat out on a whim most times. To take care of the basic need I have to full my belly after a long day of work, I meal prep. It is so satisfying coming home, knowing that there is a complete meal in the fridge. I actually, want to eat what is there 9 times out of 10 and don’t get tempted to buy something on the go. This is good for my savings and health in the long run.

Meal prepping is an act of self-care in my book. I can warm my meal quickly, eat and unwind for longer. I am able to eliminate cooking a meal after work which may be time consuming and just plain tiring. As a teacher, I am on my feet a lot, so I don’t want to be on my feet cooking dinner after work too.

Meal prepping takes some reflection though. I try to have two options and vary them from week to week, so I don’t get tired of eating the same thing. For example, this week I am having oxtail and vegetables as one option and lentil stew with quinoa as another option.

I do my prep on the weekend and portion out the servings in individual containers. I also give myself one evening to buy something on the go. There are many great options for meals here in Japan, around the train station where I live. I can get sushi, fish and rice, Chinese and a bunch of other options. I budget for this because I believe in having freedom in my budget.

As an act of self-care, I meal prep on the weekend when I am off from work. This is because I have more time to chop, marinate, steam, stew, boil and do whatever is required to make what I feel like having. A key step in this process is deciding what I will make and getting the necessary ingredients. I live alone so this isn’t very demanding. I dedicate 2-3 hours meal prepping so that I can have my evenings off.

I am able to sit and browse YouTube for longer, read a book, blog or do whatever else I want to do, that relaxes me. It’s now a apart of my routine, since I have been doing this for years. There is no going back for me. My evenings are far less rushed thanks to meal prepping on the weekend.

Being Grateful is a big part of Self-care

How often do we stop and count our blessings? Do we stop and say thank you to God for another day? Being grateful is a part of self-care.

Expressing gratitude for all things great and small in our lives help us to be content and mentally well. Discontent comes many times when we focus for too long, on what we don’t have. The things we yearn for but can’t see how to get them. Also looking too long at the lives of others and wanting what they have blinds you to your blessings. This is a joy stealer.

I often talk to myself at these times and remember the things I have that I am grateful for: relatively good health, family, friends, a job, joy, a place to sleep, life and so on. It is easy to get lost in the illusion of perfection we see in others especially on social media.

This world and its wants, make us feel as if we never have enough or that if we do not have certain things by a certain age we are less than. I am making myself learn to take my eyes off the world and fix them on what God’s words say about me. I focus on life-giving words to remind myself that I am not a puppet, to be tossed about by every flight of fancy that the world throws my way. I practice being grateful for the small things and big things as well as everything in between. I also actively pursue peace and contentment in my life. This is self-care in action.

I am grateful for something as simple as taking a shower and stretching out on my bed every night. After a tiring day, that is just wonderful!

A good way to practice gratitude is to jot down a few things each day that you are thankful for. This has a way of shifting the focus from what we lack to being content with what we do have.

Cultivate a grateful day, one day at a time and help your mind to be at ease.