Indulge in self-care

When I picture my ideal life (on top of having the human chocolate that is Idris Elba as my husband), it also involves a lot more calm than is present in my current reality.

Self-care is a regular conversation I have with my closest women friends. Between juggling careers, relationships, exercise, family and hobbies quality time seems to be a rare commodity.

We want to achieve amazing things then self-flagellate when we feel we aren't reaching these goals in time.

In the same way that cars need regular maintenance to keep running well, self-care should be just as necessary to keep us running well. But we seem to have bought into the myth that the flip side of having it all is constantly being tired and feeling like we are not running the race at the right pace.

Between the late night calls, Whatsapp chats and Skype chats here are some ideas that actually work for most of us:

Curate your social media

I know that there are amazing humans who can take breaks from being online but I am not one of them. I am aware that having a constant stream of information in the palm of your hand is not always the path to calm and focus. So what I do is make sure the accounts I follow are not triggering. My Twitter feed is filled with writers of colour, make-up artists and pop culture magazines.

I am also very quick to use the block button as I prefer a pre-emptive strike: if someone problematic is re-tweeted onto my timeline I block them immediately.

Facebook is mostly benign as I know everyone in my friend list personally. I have a friend who is passionate about animal rescue which means occasionally pictures of abused dogs pop up.

Not here for that, so I stayed friends with her in real life and on the book of faces but muted her feed. I've also switched off notifications for all apps on my phone except email.

As someone who is easily distracted, I prefer to manually open Instagram to see how many people have liked yet another food pic I posted.

Surround yourself with good people

I read somewhere that you are the sum of the five people you interact with most often - which means the two toddlers I live with will eventually drag me down to their level in terms of vocabulary.

I'm not sure where the number came from, but there is a lot to be said for having a squad who is loyal. They can be a sounding board, cheerleaders, safety nets and the voice of reason.

Another part of putting yourself first is removing relationships that don't serve you well.

That could be by cutting them off entirely or just blocking them from the inner circle. At the end of the day, whether its two or twenty pals, surround yourself with people who encourage your dreams and call you out when you need to be checked.

Do the things that make your soul sing

While you wait for the big items on your bucket list to manifest, it is okay to treat yourself to smaller pleasures where you find them. My best friend is obsessed with Rooibos tea and hoards the packets so she can dunk two teabags into a big mug and savour the taste of home when she needs to.

I have another friend who likes to organise the clothes in her cupboards when she is stressed: she says something about arranging them in order is soothing.

Someone else in the group claims cooking elaborate recipes is a great stress reliever as the actions of chopping and stirring take her mind off her troubles for a while.

So from all the articles and blogs these are the few things that have worked in real life.


By Yolisa Qunta, freelance journalist