Taking care: internally and externally

We all have different ways in which we approach and cope with things. We also have different ways in which we take care of ourselves. We have different ways in which we treat the people around us as well. My ways may not suit you and your ways may not suit me. But what we both have in common, is the need to look after ourselves. It’s an essential part of our functioning as human beings even though we sometimes require a reminder from time to time. In this article I’ll cover a few areas I’ve managed to improve in and will share a few tips that work for me.

I don’t think I’ve slept properly in months, although I’ve seen my sleeping pattern fluctuate quite a lot lately. Now, I’m not always the best role-model to follow as I’m someone who becomes super active once the clock strikes 1am – sometimes it feels like I’m doing everything backwards – but this also means that I’m well aware of the struggle.

Sleep matters – and you can manage it

Sleep stock Since I was a kid, I’ve had various professionals deliver long repetitive speeches to me on sleep hygiene and how important it is. Sleep hygiene is a collection of various practices and habits that help you to enforce a good night’s sleep, decent in quality and yielding complete alertness during the day. Having a healthy sleeping routine is vital for both mental and physical health. It can boost productivity and can benefit everyone, from children to older adults.

The right amount

One of the most important habits to grasp is knowing how to spend an appropriate amount of time asleep in bed, not too short or anything too excessive. Sleep needs vary from person to person and are indeed linked to individual’s health and lifestyle.

Napping

Limiting day naps to 30 minutes is another key practice. Napping will never compensate for lost sleep during the night. A short 20-minute nap, however, can aid to improve mood, awareness and impact your behaviour.

Coffee and alcohol

Steering clear of any stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine leading up to bedtime is helpful too when aiming for a good night’s sleep. When you’re drinking alcohol, however, moderation is key. Despite alcohol being known to help you fall asleep quicker, consuming too much alcohol before bed can seriously disrupt your sleep in the second half of the night as the body processes the drink.

Physical exercise

An obvious but useful one of course is exercising to promote quality sleep. Even just 10 minutes of aerobic styled exercises can rapidly improve sleep quality at night. This can be cycling or walking even, just aim to avoid heavy workouts right before bed. That being said, the effect of hard-core exercise during the night hits everyone differently, this is where you shape your practices to you.

Food and eating habits

Trying to eat earlier in the evening is another recommendation as rich food, fatty or fried meals, spicy plates and citrusy fruits can trigger indigestion which then goes on to disturb sleep.

Light

The next fact may sound a little silly to some, especially those of us hibernating through lockdown, but make sure you get your daily dose of natural light, especially if you tend to stay indoors most of the time. Exposing yourself to the sunlight during the day as well as the dark at night helps create a healthy sleep cycle.

A cosy environment

And lastly, make sure you establish a calming and regular routine and try to make your sleeping environment as cosy as possible! Sleep means more than you think.

Nurture of Self

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all had our share of stress, fatigue and overall exhaustion recently. Whether you’ve been working-from-home like a lunatic or been out in the streets fighting for change; nurturing yourself inside out right now should be a necessity. Taking care of ourselves is a lot harder done than said, but being aware and knowing how to start is positive in itself.

Eating right is one thing and having an outlet is another. I have covered eating habits in the past so will not delve into that here although I will make a point on ingesting the right amount of water, vitamins and minerals. I cannot stress this enough, especially if you are attending marches and gatherings of activism.

Finding your balance

I’d like to touch on how we respond to others and how we distribute our energy when it comes to handling those around us. I have spoken a lot about not feeling pressured into replying to social media and cutting off toxic people and I will make a point of it again. Just because we are confined to our homes and have our phones to hand most of the time, this does not mean we owe anything to anyone. Let me say that again; We do not owe any of our time or energy to anyone other than ourselves primarily and if you feel that you do, be cautious and self-aware with it.

We constantly check the apps on our phones, absorb tons of information and drain our eyes daily. Screens are unhealthy. Forcing yourself to socialise when you are quite the introvert is unhealthy. Shutting yourself away for long periods of time is unhealthy too. This is why finding a balance suited to you is something to prioritise.

You’re only human, and so am I

Many of us find ourselves lost somewhere in the middle and that is fine. You might find yourself extra chatty on some days and super quiet on others. You might feel like posting a photo or a status to wheel in interaction and then you might find that you delete it all and ignore every interaction. My point here is that you are human and so am I. Let that just marinate for a minute. Often, we forget and as stupid as it may seem, we all need a little grounding here and there.

I also want to make a note to those who follow and read my blogs. I am not all positive affirmations, pretty colours and flowers. In order to extract the tips and advice I dish out in my writing, I have had to take myself into dark spots saturated in trauma which is never as easy as it may seem. You might read my work and think, “What a content I’ve-got-my-shit-together type of girl she is” or “Wow, I wish it was that easy for me”. Let me tell you that without my background and sticky situations I would not be who or where I am now. I think that is something worth reflecting on as a lot of people often only see what I choose to show on social media or portray on my exterior (my face). However, I am here to remind you that I indeed was once what some would call a misplaced child in care and that I have seen and heard my fair share of negatives too. Sometimes I write from places of inspiration and sometimes in fact I write from having a break down and overthinking things.

Be easy on those around you as you never know what kind of landscape someone’s mind follows and remember this is doable whilst looking after yourself too.

Maya Barach

Maya is 21 years old and currently studying English Literature and Philosophy.

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