My challenge with practising self care

A week ago I went to the doctor. I have been feeling quite on edge for a while now and at first I brushed it off. I told myself not to be such a whimp and just keep going. A couple of weeks ago I hit a wall and I felt like I couldn’t even do the simplest of tasks. I either slept too little or too long, I had no appetite or I’d eat everything in sight, I had heart palpitations and my body developed small aches that I couldn’t quite explain. I also felt like I completely lost my grounding. So I mustered up the courage to go see my doctor and talk about my issue with stress.

My mom always called me a lazy person by nature and I’ve always hated it. So whenever I take time off I feel guilty. Guilty for not using my time better. My daily life consists of this ”rise and grind” attitude, yet this time it has finally bit me in the ass. My doctor told me to make spare time activities a priority, because ever since I started this course I’m currently doing at school, I’ve had to cancel them. There are just not enough hours in a day for me to be active, go to school, make homework, cook food, clean up while trying to maintain a somewhat existent social life. She told me to prioritise the things that bring me joy and give me energy.

So I’ve started to reflect a little.. How would I make this work? What can I do to take this stress away? I recently re-joined our local pole dancing studio here and I have been having a blast, but I feel guilty for not focusing on my homework instead. And as I’m writing this, at my favourite little café in town, I’m feeling guilty for not attending my pole dancing class.

The thing is, being so hyper-focused on being productive, I have lost myself in the process. And I have made the decision to cut down on some things that are incredibly time consuming, just so that I can have my hour or something a day that is not school focused. And I can already feel a huge difference.

I think this obsession with productivity nowadays makes a lot of people unhappy. I’m not telling you to be lazy, but I AM telling you to make time to practise self care. Be it taking a nice bath, eating that food you like, going to fitness or seeing a friend. We need to take care of ourselves first before we can thrive. And there will be guilt. It won’t be easy when you’ve been grinding all your life. But it is good to take a step back and just breathe. So yeah, I may not be doing my homework every day, but I feel a whole lot less on edge. I don’t feel the urge to be perfect all the time.

Happiness is so important. We only have this one precious life, shouldn’t we aspire to live it to our fullest and be happy?

Do you practise self care? If you do, how do you like to do it?

I would love to hear about it!

– Naiyee

How yoga saved my life

Lately I haven’t been feeling very grounded. With school, exams coming up, trying to keep a social life and visiting family I have been nothing but busy. All of those long days and days away from home I have really not been able to practise yoga the way I want to. Not just in the physical sense, but also mentally. For the past three years I’ve been keeping my practise (somewhat) consistent, but this year has been really difficult!

I started my practise back in 2015, only a couple of months after my mother passed away. I felt very lost and as if my life had lost all of its meaning, so I decided to look for something to do.. I had been flirting with the idea of yoga years prior, but had never seriously considered it. I only saw the physical aspect of it, but never the mental aspects. The thought that I wasn’t flexible enough or skinny enough went through my mind a lot. But the more I thought about it, the more the idea of Yoga pulled me in. So I bought a cheap yoga mat and started following along with video’s on YouTube. At first it was only 15 minutes a day, but I could immediately sense how calm it made me feel.

During that period of my life my mind was racing. Thoughts about how much I missed my mother and my family back home, but also thoughts that were much, much darker. I felt the need to be in control of my life, since I couldn’t be in control of my mother’s fate.  I was yearning to find some peace in my life. Starting with yoga was scary to me. I was very insecure, having been overweight and bad with any type of ”exercise”, so this was a challenge. But I decided to face it head on and so I did. Soon I found myself on my mat ever. single. day. My practise started on my mat, but soon expanded itself into everything I do. I focus on how I breathe, how I speak to other people and take time to meditate a little, even if it is just for a minute or two. But it also made my relationships with other people better. I feel as if I have a deeper understanding of why people do what they do or say the things they say.. Before I used to be very quick to judge, not really paying people any time of the day and just living on the fast lane.

Yoga has taught me in times of stress to take a step back, reflect and ask myself: ”What is this teaching me?”. If something doesn’t serve me, I let it go. If I can’t control something, I let it happen. It has also taught me a lot about my own body too. Asana is one of the 8 limbs of yoga and asana means posture. It is what you see people do on their mats. Asana humbled me beyond belief. I used to see a pose and think: ”Wow!! I want to do it too, I’m totally ready for that!” even though I wasn’t. In the beginning that made a dent in my ego. Not being able to do a handstand or a middle split within 3 months bugged the living daylights out of me and even made me want to stop at times, but as my practise progressed, I realised that it really doesn’t matter. Sure, it is a fun goal to have, but that’s the thing. You should enjoy the journey towards those goals instead of only focus on the destination.

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This pose in particular I started practising about 2 years ago and I still struggle with it! Such a humbling experience every time I try it.

That lesson I could also apply to my real life. You see, after my mom died, I was waiting to die myself as well. I didn’t see any point in living anymore if she wasn’t there to see me do the crazy stuff I do today. I then realised that I am going to be around for a long time still, if I’m lucky. So why would I wait for that final destination, the day I die, while beating myself up about so much stuff that is not my hands? That final destination will happen, whether I like it or not, so I might as well enjoy the time I still have left. And that is how yoga saved me. It saved me from a life filled with emptyness and misery.

I might not have time or energy to practise asana every day, but you better believe I try to practise the other 7 limbs from the moment I wake up until the moment I hit the hay. And that’s the beauty of it. You are completely in charge of the way you want to practise as long as you are not forcing it.

Have you ever tried yoga?

-Naiyee