I am exhausted; 24/7, 356 days, I am just exhausted. It’s bone deep; no amount of sleep, no amount of ‘relaxing’, and no amount of social media breaks have helped. I had to get to a point of finding the problem, and I now realise and accept that daily living is exhausting.

Every day we must wake up and be different things in different situations: a colleague, a sister, a daughter, a friend etc. Our bodies, our minds and mental health go through a lot, and we tend to overlook taking better care of them. But self-care is beyond bubble baths; it’s building healthy boundaries for yourself. To be a better version of yourself means, all aspects that make up who you are, are well taken care of.

I struggle with sleep quite a lot. Not getting enough sleep has affected my mental and physical health. What has helped is switching off my notifications. I don’t interact with anyone for an hour before I go to sleep. That sounds like such a small thing but it has helped a lot.

Different aspects of self-care:

Physical – Your body is your temple; exercising isn’t always about losing/gaining weight. It’s also making sure your body is performing optimally.

Social – your environment and the energies you invite into your personal space is very important. Toxic friends, social media and even toxic family members can affect your self-care if you don’t draw strong boundaries.

Mental – Be aware of the things that can affect you negatively. Know your triggers. One of my biggest triggers is shouting; when I was younger I was raised in a household where shouting was used as part of the violent tactics employed to make sure I behaved as a kid. Till this day I am sensitive to the volume in which people talk to me.

Spiritual – Spirituality doesn’t have to always involve religion if you are not a believer. But find things to feed your sense of self, and that can mean different things for different people. For me, every night I like sitting outside (not during Cape Town’s chilly winter nights though!). I will sit and just look at the moon for a while. Even my neighbours will sometimes join and they call it ‘Inyanga kaBusie’ which means it’s my moon now. I can’t tell you how much peace that has brought me.

Emotional – Knowing your mental triggers means you can take better care of your emotional health. For me, it’s staying off TikTok’s that are always romanticising mental health. Sounds like nothing but after doing it, I started to have a more positive outlook.

To make any of these possible, you must understand the problem and set a boundary…

Creating healthy boundaries – This means identifying what makes you uncomfortable and drawing a line on what you will allow and not allow.

Setting a boundary – you need to have a set of rules that you abide by, for example with time. If you say I will not discuss work after hours, that’s setting a boundary. Communication is key, letting people know what you will tolerate and not tolerate so they don’t test your boundaries.

Saying no – I struggle with this but not saying yes to everything helps you avoid being overwhelmed. I read this somewhere: Sometimes saying no to others is saying yes to yourself. According to an article by Psychologytoday.com people actually respect us more when we communicate a positive no; whether it’s our partner, colleagues, or friends. That “no” also teaches yourself that you are able to put yourself first and it’s okay.

Life is fast paced at times, so it’s good to take a breather. Get some alone time and do the things YOU enjoy. For a change take care of you.

Tell us: What does self-care mean to you?

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