It was a particularly beautiful evening. The sky was grey and the trees were in hues of green. Spring is in full swing so in the backdrop of the grey and green, pink, purple, and yellow flowers were in full bloom. The effect was quite breathtaking. If we could magically create a season by blending together two seasons, I’d definitely choose spring and monsoon. There would be grey clouds with rainbows in the sky and the lush green trees would sport vibrant flowers. Just like today.
It started raining after a while and the air was filled with the smell of mud. I love the earthy scent! And I love the sound of rain too. For a few minutes, I just took it all in and felt peaceful. My heart was filled with a sense of simple joy. That got me thinking about all the other things that make me feel the same way. The smell of books, both old and new. Resting my head on my mother’s lap. Hugging my grandma. The feel of a fresh, clean sheet on my skin and the soft pillow beneath my head. Curling up with a mug of hot chocolate on a rainy day, reading a good book. Watching a feel-good movie in my pyjamas eating some hot Maggi noodles. Lying on the terrace in the cool night air, gazing up at the moon. Taking a long stroll in the view of a full moon. Hanging out with some besties I’ve known since I was eight years old.
What fills your cup?
What brings a smile to your face and fills your heart with a childlike joy?
What activities do you find restorative?
Self-care is about restoration. It’s about knowing what fills your cup. You should be aware of the wellspring you could consciously drink from to feel like yourself and whole once again. You could of course just watch a random movie on Netflix when you want to unwind. There’s nothing wrong with that. But you could also do some activity that is uniquely your way of unwinding. It might just mean that you change into your favourite pyjamas and make yourself some hot tea before you settle down in front of the TV. It might mean that you do something entirely different – such as taking a long stroll outside on a sunny morning. It pays to put a little bit of thought into doing something that’s your way of reconnecting with yourself.
Self care is about joy. What brings you joy? It’s important that you aren’t just doing the things you think you have to. Society and media tout a number of things to be the ‘best self-care practices’. For eg., you might think that doing a 30-minute yoga session is a great self-care practice. Is it for you, though? Yoga might be a great way to exercise and keep your body in shape, but you might personally view it as more of an exercise. On the other hand, a long shower followed by reading a good book might be something you really enjoy. Then do that! There’s always time to exercise too. But when it comes to self-care, think about what brings you joy. Only then does it qualify as a self-care practice for you.
Self-care is also about the bigger things that leave you feeling expansive. For eg., I feel a sense of elation and expansion when I travel to a new place. Traveling to a new country literally adds a new dimension to me. Traveling can keep my cup filled for weeks afterward. What are some of the bigger self-care things for you? Things that you would do less frequently or that need a longer time commitment, perhaps. Maybe it’s going on a long yoga retreat. Maybe it’s getting together with dear friends for a prolonged period of time. Maybe it’s immersing yourself in a series of books. Maybe it’s disconnecting from work for a week or two. Maybe it’s doing a Vipassana meditation course.
Ask yourself these questions to determine what your best self-care practices would look like:
- What makes you laugh? Is it watching a particular TV show? Is it playing with your pet? I, for eg., LOVE reading the Asterix comic books. They make me laugh! I’ve read every single one of those comics and never get tired of reading them. My mother, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoys Korean sitcoms. I never get why because I don’t understand the language but that doesn’t matter. They have her in stitches.
- What are some of the things you used to do as a child that you still love? Maybe it’s painting. Maybe it’s riding your bike. Maybe it’s eating Cheetos. For eg., I used to absolutely love reading fairy tales and Enid Blyton books. Remember The Magic Faraway Tree? I still love those books.
- What activities can you get lost in and forget that the world exists? For me, it’s hands down reading books. Specifically, fiction and fantasy novels at that.
- What leaves you feeling light and fresh? A good night’s sleep? Meditating in the morning? Taking an afternoon nap? Listening to some good music? I love it when I get 7-8 hours of sleep in a clean and organized bedroom after reading for a while.
- What makes you feel expansive? Maybe it’s a 3-week trip to a different country. Maybe it’s a road trip with your close friend. Maybe it’s immersing yourself in documentaries about the cosmos.
Take some time today or this weekend to make a list of things that fill your cup. Put some thought into it – you should feel that they’re uniquely you when you read them. Then consciously start incorporating some of them into your life – daily, weekly, yearly. The more you you become, the more you will have to offer to the world.