Practising self-care is an often over-looked activity we women must do daily.
You can’t pour from an empty cup, as the saying goes.
In today’s society women are often preached at and persuaded to sacrifice everything in order to care for their family. Women must give up their careers to care for a new baby or an ill relative; women must know their place in the workplace; women must devote valuable time on housework, cooking, grocery shopping, etc. Much is expected from us, yet when men offer the tiniest gesture to help, they expect a ‘thank you note’ or a cookie for it. This must change. And change must come from us.
#Step 1: ASK FOR HELP
Stop shouldering all the chores without complaint. Stand up for your rights, not by raising your voice and picking a fight, but by directly and clearly asking for help. Often enough men are not offering help simply because they never knew we needed help. Think back to the past, has a man ever helped you do some chores but not to your satisfaction? What was your response to that? Did you thank him and then gently let him know how you’d prefer the task done? Or, more likely than not, you told him you didn’t want him to do it any more and you took the task back on?
This TED Talk given by Michele L Sullivan beautifully and eloquently put things in perspective for all of us. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but strength. We are all part of each other’s support systems, and when we work together and help each other, we can become stronger as a team.
Jack Canfield, the author of Chicken Soup for the Soul series and The Success Principles, featured the importance of asking in his brilliant book as Success Principle number 17. This skill is so vital and crucial that he dedicated an entire chapter to it, and created a blog posting highlighting The Power of Asking.
We live in a world that is drastically different from the previous decades. More and more women are working or running their own businesses. More and more of us are hustling in professions previously thought of as ‘men’s domain’. Our time is precious, and we must value our own time as equal to, if not more important than men’s time. Who in the right mind still says that we must be the ones doing household chores? Dinosaurs?
Practise asking, in a nice, gentle, polite but firm way. Express yourself clearly, with details laid out on a sheet of paper if necessary. Sometimes we’ve only ourselves to blame when we become overwhelmed with life’s many trivial tasks.
A lot of housework can be automated or outsourced. Food preparation can be eliminated or at least minimised with careful planning and shopping. Utilising a cleaning company or a meal delivery service can reduce your housework load drastically. If you are affluent enough, you can even consider hiring someone to help with the chores. You can also outsource your personal life to India! I know this sounds shocking, but A. J. Jacobs has personally done this to prove that pretty much everything in your life can be outsourced. It may be more extreme than you are willing to try, but there is a point to it. Read A.J.’s blog here.
If you need any help with practising the skill of asking, you should check out the Nightingale-Conant programme on asking: The Aladdin Factor, and gain a much better understanding of how to ask effectively and clearly, with the belief that you will get what you ask for. Audible is very good for those who don’t have enough time to read but travel frequently. You can ‘read’ many books while travelling or waiting for your transport.
#Step 2: LET THEM DO IT
I know this is a tough one, because I also used to be a perfectionist. No one is good at something they do for the first time. We all inevitably fail at something. When you’ve been doing all the chores for years, and you compare your results with the results achieved by a man who’s doing this half heartedly, for the first time, with your eagle eyes carefully watching them, and you breathing down their neck, … their results are going to be unsatisfactory. Be encouraging. Point out the positives. Remember, your aim here is to make them feel good about helping out, and want to do this again, and thus freeing you up to do the things that you need and want to do.
#Step 3: TAKE TIME OUT FOR YOURSELF AND CHILL OUT
Periodically leave others in charge of the house and the kids and take time out for yourself to enjoy life.
Go for a run, watch a movie, get a massage, listen to music… Do nice things for yourself. Be a little ‘selfish’. You’ll be amazed at how this affects your mental and physical health, and how much more capable you feel about taking on another possibly challenging day, week, or month. Start to think your body as a vehicle that you use to take you through the journey of life. You look after your car, don’t you? It may not be a Ferrari or a Jaguar but you take care of it. You check your type pressure, you perform a little tune up every now and then, you change the oil, you give it a wash, … you maintain it, right? Because you want it to perform better and for longer. Well, our bodies are vehicles too. If you keep on running it and using it non-stop, but never give it any service, it’s going to break down.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to start thinking about taking care of yourself, physically, and mentally. Perform the little tune-ups needed regularly, and you can avoid having a breakdown.
# STEP 4: USE GUIDED MEDITATION TO HELP CALM THE MIND
I think we can all agree by now that meditation helps calm the mind. There is scientific proof that medication can help reduce stress, anxiety, and fear; can calm down the over-stimulated mind, and can reduce the feelings of pain and discomfort. Many expectant mothers use meditation to help cope with labour pains, and have reported that the technique reduces a significant amount of pain.
This brilliant article published on the website Healthline.com lists 12 science based benefits of meditation. No wonder meditation has become more and more popular among today’s busy working people.
Technology has made meditation much easier and more efficient. Many people don’t have hours and hours to devote to meditation as monks did back in the day. There are many programs and apps that offer meditation courses in 15-30 minutes, or even when you sleep. Apps like Headspace, Calm, MINDBODY, etc, gives you access to meditation on the go. The newly developed and launched website Gaia, is a massive library of consciousness-expanding resources. For a small subscription fee, you have ad-free access to over 8000 videos on yoga, meditation, spiritual growth, and truth seeking. There’s new materials added each week, some of which are original materials that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.
There’s never been a better time for the busy working women of the world to take advantage of all these easily accessible resources and make our lives more calm and enjoyable.