If you're reading this, you don't have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. One can only handle so much, so forget the mental naysayers that are saying you're not doing enough or only accomplishing very little. The truth is, you're doing the best you can.
As much as we tell ourselves to keep calm during stressful days, let's face it - those days can be stressful to deal with. When the going gets tough and you need to find a balance in your life, we hope these self-care tips will help you get there.
1. Follow your everyday routine
When you stick to a routine, it'll give you a better picture of your day and how you can plan it out. If you're staying indoors and working from home, wake up at the same time every day, have your meals like you always do, and most importantly, dedicate a small portion of your day for self-care. Sure, there are unread emails waiting and an assignment to stay up to complete, but you can do simple self-care exercises such as a 5-minute meditation or a 20-minute indoor workout. The moment you give your mind and body a chance to rest or recharge, better focus and calmness will follow during these stressful times.
2. Eat healthily
When you're feeling stressed, it's easy to turn to high-processed junk food, sugary sodas and extra-sweet bubble teas to cope with it. Fueling your body with snacks and sweets won't give you the energy and nutrients to stay in shape, but healthy food will. Before reaching out to banana fritters or potato chips for snacks, munch on some apples, bananas or other fruits instead. If you're craving for something sweet, enjoy fruits with a spoonful of peanut butter. You can also snack on vegetables like celery sticks or baby carrots that are bite-sized and can be easily portioned throughout your day. Treat food like medicine to your body, and it'll help you feel better about your physical well-being.
3. Keep yourself busy with a long-term project
It's easy to go down a spiral of stress and boredom when you're not keeping yourself engage with any long-term activities. When your day is over, close the laptop, put your phone aside and do something that'll you keep your mind off the outside world. Now it's time to binge-watch on Friends or The Good Place, solve a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle, learn to paint from a 1-hour long tutorial video, catch up on your favourite Harry Potter series, practice an Ed Sheeran song on the guitar, or complete a Mandala colouring book. By doing a long-term project, you can break away from your stress and worries, even when it's just a few hours.
4. Prepare a self-care kit
Similar to having an emergency supply kit for your car, you need a self-care kit dedicated to stressful days. It's also very simple and easy to do! All you need is a cardboard box or any bag that's big enough to fill all the things that make you happy. Some things you can consider for your self-care kit include sheet masks, a stuffed toy, essential oils, a scented candle, beauty lotion, calming tea and more! Better yet, you can use some of these self-care items to create a relaxing spa session at home.
5. Spend time with your loved ones
When you have a whirlwind of tasks and activities in your daily schedule, it may be tough to dedicate some time for social self-care. Talking to your loved ones and building a close relationship with them will help you to feel connected. It's also great to know that someone is always around to care and listen to you whenever you need some support. If you're living or studying far away from your family, give them a call and check on how everyone is doing back home. Since everyone has different levels of social needs, figure out how you can add them into your daily schedule and find an optimal amount of social self-care that is best for you.
6. Exercise regularly
You don't have to be a gym junkie to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. That's because there are many easy ways to keep fit and healthy even when you're indoors. Exercising regularly is one of many ways to keep your stress levels low and release a rush of endorphins to your body. Perfect for your mind and body, it does wonders in energising your body and giving you that positive and happy feeling that will help you through stressful times. If you can't keep up with cardio workouts, you can try dance-based workouts, tai chi, yoga or pilates. Just spend 15-30 minutes each day, and notice how your mood and energy improve over time.
7. Get sufficient sleep
Just as essential as eating well and exercising regularly, getting sufficient sleep is important for your mental self-care. When you have 8 hours of sleep, you can rest your mind and recharge your body, so you're ready to go through a brand new day. It also increases your focus, energy and social interactions too. If you find it hard to sleep early, avoid drinking caffeine in the evening, do some workouts in the day and put your phone away an hour before bedtime. It's also crucial to set a fixed bedtime routine, so your body can ease itself into a relaxed state when it's time to drift into dreamland.
8. Focus on the good
When you're having a hard time, negative thoughts tend to creep up once in a while. As much as you feel like the world is against you, remember the blessings and positive things that happened in your life. To keep calm and stay positive as a Muslim, our writer Ili shared that you can change your mindset towards more optimism by remembering that everything happens by the will of Allah (s.w.t). As the Prophet (S.A.W) once said:
Wondrous is the affair of the believer for there is food for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allah and thus there is good for him, and if he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus it is good for him. (Hadith by Sahih Muslim)
9. Reach out for help
When you find yourself in a situation that's too much to bear, don't be afraid to reach out for help. It's important for you to know that you don't have to go through it alone. There are many helplines and resources that can help and provide emotional support through these tough times. No matter what the challenges may be, you can seek help from this list of organisations in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
10. Remind yourself that everything is temporary
Regardless of the challenges and tough times in your life, nothing is permanent and this too shall pass. It is stressful and terrifying to go through a path that is filled with uncertainty and hardship, but the best thing we can do is to stay calm, positive and keep our well-being balanced. Once the grey clouds are no longer within sight, you can look forward to sunny days with clear skies that remind you of His promise of better days to come.
Just like everyone else, you'll go through tougher days, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to overcome. You don't have to carry the weight of your burden alone. Take each day as it comes by remembering to sleep well, eat healthily and exercise regularly. Prioritise your well-being, so you'll be in the best headspace to overcome any stressful situations. If it's too much to bear, reach out to your loved ones or speak to a professional who will offer the emotional support you need. Once things are starting to get better, so will you.