Why is it important for women to create moments for taking care of themselves? Many women confess to putting their needs very low on the priority list because taking care of themselves before others makes them feel guilty.
Hope Bagyendera Chigudu, a feminist and life transformation coach from Akina Mama Wa Afrika, notes that self-care at its core is about consistent activities that help one recharge and feel good. Self-care leads to wellbeing, which includes the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, and relational or intimate wellbeing both at the individual and community levels. Wellbeing does not happen in a vacuum; it is influenced by the larger social context. This includes work, family, community, society, environment, and socialisation. If you are not making time for daily self-care, you are more likely to feel stressed, unfulfilled and overwhelmed. When you take care of yourself, you give yourself the fuel you need to show up as the best version of yourself in your everyday life.
You are a well in need of regular replenishing
“Imagine yourself as a well; when outflows exceed inflows, the well eventually dries up. When you continually give without replenishing yourself, your sense of personal and collective agency diminishes. You begin to experience the world as something that is happening to you, forgetting that you are capable of being intentional, taking breaks and choosing to care for yourself. This results in burning out, unhealthy self-sacrifice, secondary trauma, experiencing different kinds of distress, hostility towards colleagues, and structural violence,” she says.
The life coach notes that our level of self-care is shaped by our cultural roles, beliefs, images, and expectations. Patriarchal beliefs and values dictate that women should take care of their children and everyone else except themselves. “This internalisation and socialisation of our identities as caregivers who must always sacrifice for others, contributes to our sense of self and our beliefs about self-care, both positively and negatively,” she reveals.
To overcome this limitation, Chigudu suggests creating emotional and physical boundaries with the significant people in one’s life. “Whether it be someone who is sad, angry, toxic, negative, grieving, or any other emotion on the human spectrum, do not let it get into your ‘bubble’. Create time for self-care; it is the most revolutionary, responsible, valuable, and important work you can all do for yourselves and for others,” she advises.
It is imperative to be intentional about getting your own physical space and allowing others to have theirs too. “Create a personal space where you must not be interrupted by anyone. If you do not have a spare room, find a nice place outside the house. This could be under a tree. It also could be in your car. Organise a timer for when you will be free. Let the children or any other person wait until you are free,” Chigudu advises.
Setting one’s boundary is not a bad idea, but it is an uphill task and you will experience resistance. Expect chaos during the transition but keep working at it; remember filling your emotional reserves takes intentional effort. Do your inner work to get rid of guilt and pressure. Claim serenity and alignment.
Wake up call
Trinity Nansereko, a mother of two shares that after having her first child, she sank into depression without even realising it.
“I did not realise that being a mother had taken a toll on me and that I had lost myself. I stopped caring about my physical appearance; I started looking frail and tired and older than my age,” she says.
It was until she started reading about behaviour patterns that she discovered she was under depression and time to re-discover herself. Within a few months, Nansereko says, she was a much better person, mother and friend. She encourages women to find time for themselves and create moments that just make them happy.
Catherine Bekunda Tumwebaze, a counsellor and CEO, Family Builders, notes that when one is over-dependent on others, this is a sign that one does not take good care of themselves. Bekunda further says: “If you have not improved yourself in a long time, for instance, by upgrading your studies or taking on a new course or teaming up with people better than yourself such as an investment group, then know that you are not taking care of yourself. If you are detached from the world, are forgetful and sloppy, that is a manifestation that you are not taking care of yourself.”
Bekunda adds that when one has no love, is ungrateful even towards those that do great work, then one needs to take a step back and examine themselves.
“If you are withdrawn, prefer to be alone all the time and do not honour invitations this too is an indicator that you need to take better care of yourself,” she says.
How much time do you need?
Chigudu explains that taking care of self is appropriate all the time and it should be part of one’s DNA. Self-care will only work if you are willing and ready to invest in it using your vehicle (body) as a vital site of change. However, if you are not grounded, you will continue to see power as outside yourself and not use your inner power to nourish yourself, to light the fire of vibrancy, joy, vitality, and solidity. It is only by strengthening your power and will, that you will take actions that are difficult or challenging and move towards transformation. The beauty with self-care, the results are evident and you will radiate positivity and be a better version of yourself.
Do a regular scan of your body every day. Ask yourself, how it is doing, which part of my body is not happy. What can I do to make it happy?
•Regular exercise without fail including walking in nature, yoga, swimming and may be even going to the gym
•Conscious eating, eating food that is alive, not dead such as the one found on shelves of super markets
•Go to movies/ soulful restaurants, hanging out with friends, reading, journaling, meditation, identifying people that feed the soul and being with them.