Self-love during COVID: A 29-point guide
Pooja Priyamvada is an author, columnist, translator, online content & Social Media consultant and poet. Currently she is Academic Director at International Institute of Mass Media (IIMM) Delhi.
An awarded bi-lingual blogger she is a trained psychological/mental health first aider, corporate emotional wellness trainer, mindfulness & grief facilitator, reflective listener, mental health researcher and suicide prevention activist. She has been associated and published at reputed national & global portals, anthologies and journals.
She is a course facilitator of an online course- “Leadership & Management in Health” offered by University of Washington. She is a part of the organising team of Kritya International Poetry Festival 2021 and has been actively organising theatre and reading workshops at the National Museum, New Delhi.
She has translated Joseph Murphy’s The Power of the Subconscious Mind to Aapke Avchetan Mann ki Shakti for Penguin Random House in 2022, A Night in the Hills, a collection of short stories by Manav Kaul published by Westland Books in 2019 and Caregivers’ Handbook for Down’s Syndrome published by Sangati Foundation in 2021. Her ebooks Mental Health: A Primer and Lessons for Life from Death:Papa & I and translation Land of Ghosts: Iceland are available on Amazon Kindle.
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Self-love in times of extreme physical distancing is a must for our mental health and overall wellness. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that self-care or self-love is being selfish. It is not. In fact, in a situation like this, it is the best you can do for yourself and others.
There is a mile of difference between the two. Without self-love, we are neurotic, self-centered, and insecure. With self-love, we become more capable of extending love and support to others too. This leads to ultimate satisfaction in relationships because you become capable of extending to others the same kindness and acceptance that extend to yourself. This can create a positive impact in other areas of your life, like work.
Love is always something you do and not something you say. And so is self-love. It is a verb. It entails treating yourself with kindness and patience when you are not able to achieve a goal, whether it is a mental one or a physical one. If you are trying to get out of a mental state, let’s say, sadness or depression, it is likely that you will not succeed in one go. You will make some effort. Progress a little. And perhaps relapse. But you have to keep trying until you succeed. Similarly, if you have some physical goals that you want to achieve, it will not happen in one go. So do yourself a favor, breathe deeply, and hug yourself and try new ways until you succeed.
A few things you can do are the following:
- Begin your day with a positive affirmation, anything that will make you smile- plan for the day ahead with some memory of the day before.
- Know you are worthy of your own time and energy. You need to look after yourself before you extend that care to someone else.
- Nurture your body with food and drink. Physical health is the first step to mental health.
- Accept your appearance, your health conditions, and do what you can to keep the body healthy by doing some suitable exercise.
- Do not believe the inner critic inside you always; it is okay to know your weakness as a human being, but being still critical of yourself is not right.
- Be surrounded by people who encourage you and make you feel loved.
- Do not make unhealthy comparisons. The only person you should be continually comparing yourself with is you that existed the previous day.
- Identify and end toxic relationships. Someone who makes you feel lesser. It could be a friend or family or lover, or a spouse. Such people do not deserve to be a part of your life.
- Celebrate your small wins, pat yourself on the back and be proud of every small achievement.
- Take time out for calmness and mindfulness every day. Breathe in awareness and do something that nourishes your mind and soul.
- Be patient and persistent. Practice self-love daily. Especially in these hard times.
- Treat others with love and respect too. Be accepting of differences. As they say, do to those as you would want to be done to you. Kindness and empathy!
- Be grateful for at least one thing every day. It helps to make you find peace and know there are hope and love in the world.
- Reach out to people you need to help you through the tough times. No man is an island. The social being in us needs lots of support, and seeking help does not make us weak.
- Learn to say no. Period.
- Forgive yourself generously. Everything is a learning experience, and it is human sometimes to fail, make mistakes, and make bad judgments.
- Try to keep a journal, record your feelings in writing, in audio or video, no need to share, listen to them when you are calm. This shall help you identify your triggers and unhealthy coping mechanisms.
- Turn off technology and social media for a while, being in nature is suitable for all humans.
- Give up the need for approval from others. There will always be someone who does not like you or approve of you. People do it sometimes without any reason. Do not let them acquire your mental space.
- Be realistic. Allow yourself to be human, flawed, and imperfect.
- Get creative and try to express yourself in some way- painting, writing, cooking, crafts, and music, dance, or whatever takes your fancy. DO not try to match the professional standards. Do it for your happiness.
- Let go of past trauma and wounds. This can be difficult but can be done easily if you seek others help for support.
- Find your happy place. This can be a physical space- a bay window, a rooftop, a garden, a beach, a balcony, or just a mental area where you retire to recuperate.
- The next time you are feeling joyous and confident, create a list of your best qualities and accomplishments. Use this as a reminder when you are having a bad day.
- Have quiet conversations with yourself. Get in touch with your inner noise. Speak to yourself the same way you would speak to a friend or any loved one in trouble.
- You are the expert on yourself. Because you have lived your life and braved every single day of it so far, do not let someone else put their labels on your experiences.
- Figure out who you are as a person sometimes comes from figuring out who you are not.
- Self-love is about who you are when nobody’s looking, enjoy your own company, and pamper yourself once in a while.
- Remember the savasana (the sleeping pose) at the end of all rigorous Yoga workouts? Rest your body, soul, and mind often and as needed.
Self-love is a lifelong process but needed so much more when the world is plunged into a pandemic, and most of us are struggling with below-average mental health. With work from home, isolation, and stress building up self-love is needed more and more for everyone.
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