Coping with Depression, Health

How to Love and Take Care of Yourself: A Journey Towards Genuine Happiness

Don’t hate yourself. You were once an ugly, shapeless mass that is now slowly developing into a masterpiece, being molded by maestro, YOU. You can’t hate a work in progress. You can only admire the journey it took to be a masterpiece – the best version of you yet.

Disclaimer: My advice below stems from personal experience and teachings from my personal coach. I wrote this article to cheer you up, to pat your back, to let you know that everything in life is part of a journey to becoming the best version of you.

This article is two-part: it will tackle two things in life that you need right now: self-love and self-care. I decided to talk about these two in just one article because one doesn’t go without the other. You can’t take care what you don’t love. And you can’t claim to love yourself, if you don’t take care of it.

Let’s start with SELF-LOVE:

I haven’t read the book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck”. But if I had written it, it will hardly be a book as it will only contain one or two pages about self-love as key to not giving a fuck. Before I proceed, let me be clear on what I mean by self-love. I don’t mean self-love in the narcissist way. I’m using self-love in the context of not giving a rat’s ass about what people say about you because of their twisted image of you which could be a product of the bad relationship with them while you were a work in progress. You of all people know who you are, what you went through, the inner wars you had to fight, the emotional turmoil you had to go through before you truly understand who you are and what’s your calling or purpose. Having survived everything fate threw your way, self-love, I hereby define as deep love, understanding, and respect for self as the total package, moles, flaws, and all!

Very few people probably have enough time nowadays to look deep into into self, process thoughts, and acknowledge feelings. Our society has conditioned us to do well in school, after that, find a job that will allow us to earn to pay the bills, pay for convenience, travel and what not, never mind that the job is soul-sucking. But has anyone at school or in your personal circle taught you how to take care of yourself at different levels – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual? I doubt it. Otherwise, there would less suicide and psychotic breaks now. Self-love is being able to take care of one’s self, not only the physical body, but also by enriching the mind, feeding the soul, and strengthening the spirit.

Here’s a self-talk you need to train yourself to do each morning as soon as you wake up and before you hit the sack.

I am enough. I’m the best version of me yet. I can only do so much in one day. If I failed today, I can try again, and again. I’m sorry. I forgive myself. I am enough. I love me.

Self-love is also acknowledging that whatever emotions you are feeling right now is valid. Your emotions are there to remind you that you are human, you need to breathe it out when things go out of control. Your mind is there to listen to reason – to not to make lifetime decisions based on what you are feeling right now. Acknowledge your feelings but don’t let it rule or ruin your life. Your heart and brain were designed to work simultaneously. Use them well.

Let’s talk about self-care because everyone needs it:

Take care of yourself. Allow yourself to block out what hurts you physically and/or psychologically. Here’s a list of things I learned from my personal coach, Martine De Luna of Mastermind Training, and from a yogist I recently met:

1. Detox from social media. You don’t need to know all the things that are happening around you, especially the ones that will possibly trigger a negative stimulus in you. If you can’t help it, go through your wall and learn to filter out the negativity by reflex. I’ve trained myself to visit my feed just to know what’s going on with family, friends, clients, but to scroll quickly by angry or negative posts that I find will only trigger negative stimulus in me. If you have to, unfollow pages, people, or groups. Then pray for the people who seem to have too much negativity in their lives. Pray for wisdom and blessing towards them.

There’s also another reason why you have to detox from social media – the feeling of exclusion from parties, gatherings, can only cause depression. NOT EVERYTHING on social media is real. I’ve seen people brag about their new car, new home, and travels, with #feelingblessed to boot, who begged for their parent’s hospitalization bills the next post. Again, life is not on social media. Your life is with the people who truly matter to you, the ones around you. Exclusion is part of life. If parties where you’re excluded really bothered you, throw your own party with people who truly matter.

2. Try to choose which socially relevant issues you can react to without letting it get to your head. You don’t need to react to every issue out there. For issues that concern the people of our country, the one that also affect you, such as the traffic or corruption, pray that our leaders will have clear minds, wisdom, love for the country, and conscience to deal with the problems. These problems don’t need to be in your plate too. Choose your battles well.

3. If you feel that you have so much on your plate at the moment, and you possibly do, be mindful of how you spend each hour of your day by listing down all things you need to do per hour. I started doing this last week and I must say, I am productive more than ever (otherwise, I would not have the time to write this article). I also realized that I spent too much time going through my Facebook wall and answering private messages, I missed out on much more important things such as my kids’ play time with me or unfinished books. So I decided to just reply to the PMs only when things have settled down which is usually in the evening. I even missed out on calls, I’m sure my real friends will understand.

4. Delegate. This I really need to work on because I don’t have a helper with me now and being a full-time homeschooling mom with business on the side can be draining, mentally and physically. I’m working on getting an apprentice for my business. I’m taking my time though. Like I said, one can only do so much in one day.

5. Rest well. If you feel that 5 hours of sleep is enough, do it. If you feel you need more, do it. Let your body dictate how much sleep you need. Listen to it. Listen well. While I was employed in a large firm, I refused to work overtime. I was willing to wake up early and deal with the traffic for so many years. But dinner and play times before sleep with my kids was non negotiable. I also need to hit the sack by 9 PM, usually the time my kids feel sleepy because we co-sleep. Also, whenever I lack sleep, I notice that I am less productive during the day. If I sleep well and early, however, I could multi-task more efficiently the next day.

6. Eat the right food. Goodness, you must have read this in so many self-help articles before. But I’m repeating this advice here right now for emphasis. Your body is your home. If it’s full of toxins from junk food, it won’t function at its optimal level. You can’t expect good results from a body that’s not at optimal condition. I exercise at least 45 minutes per day, 5 times a week. How do I do it? Using Youtube videos and from the dance routines I learned from my bellydancing days which I still practice. I also don’t watch TV much so I could have time for exercise.

I’ve always loved vegetables and fruits. My meals are never complete without protein, carbs, and vegetables on my plate. I also don’t eat fatty food – I usually trim my meat to exclude the fatty part. I’ve also cut down on salty food except on days when I crave for chips and Filipino favorites such dried fish and squids. If there’s one thing I can’t give up, it’s chocolates and cakes. I love them! What I do is just indulge once or twice a week so I don’t feel deprived. Being a girl, this is hard for me to do during PMS. I know you gals understand.

7. Best of all, write down the things that you are grateful for. My personal coach advised me to write 10 things I’m grateful for daily, 3 in the list should be about me. Did a Grab driver pick you up after 3 cancellations? Thank him. Then include that in your list. Did a neighbor send you free food? Thank her then include in your list. Even the simplest things that made you feel good are worth thanking for. Then thank the times you actually are proud of yourself like acing an exam, keeping your cool during a stressful moment, or when you gave up your seat for a PWD. Thank your self for your kindness, generosity, resilience, talent, etc. Self-appreciation is both self-love and self-care.

I’m a work in progress but I’ve now finally learned to accept and love myself after I’ve sought help from the right people. I ask that you also seek wisdom from the right people when you need it. Ask for help by joining community consisting of people who are willing to extend a hand. Hang out with them. Also help out whenever you can. Go out. Be mindful, grateful, and loving! Love yourself!

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