5 things we can all do to practice self-care and become more self-aware
I get asked about my mechanisms + steps that I use when ‘returning to myself’. Often we have to take some time out and check in with our self. Returning to myself includes reconnecting with my values and beliefs or just progressing on my journey of self-awareness and I decided to write this post to shed a bit of light on the simple things I do. This post is a bit of a fresh style and is more self-help more than anything, so I hope you appreciate the change from my usual journal-esque style I am accustomed to. Everything in this post are my ways of doing things and may not work for you, they should not be used as an alternative to seeking professional help where needed.
As with most things worth having in life, the results are not instant, and you need to show up for yourself and put in the work (one of my favorite phrases) this means actually trying these things out and committing to them, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. These are practices that you can do to become more self-aware and reconnect with the real you. Self-care and becoming aware is not easy and you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you give up sometimes, it’s important to get back up, do self-check-ins regularly and be willing to do the work. Self-awareness and self-love is not a destination, it is a never-ending journey because as we grow and mature, we change, as do our preferences, methods and solutions. My personal advice would be to be honest and just start as you are. Here is part 1 of my 5 things to do to become more self-aware.
Journaling is a form of note taking or diary writing but more for yourself and about yourself. It is a subjective practice and can be done in anyway as long as you are writing about yourself. Some people do it daily- I personally opt to do it every other day and 3 times a week. I bought a bright red Filofax from tiger (my favourite stationary and random shit that I never need store) so that I could be attracted to it. Those that know me know I don’t wear red, in fact, I am scared of bright colours full stop, (funnily enough I journaled about this being linked to my lack of confidence and feeling safer in dark colours (I am a child of light tho don’t ever forget)). Red is bright, bold, vibrant, confident, daring and symbolises vitality so It was a no brainer that I chose it. That’s the first step of journaling- finding a notebook that you like so it isn’t a chore to open it up. There are literally thousands online and specific companies that specialise in noteboopks, planners etc such as the passion planner company.
The second thing I did was write in it using my actual handwriting, which isn’t that great or even legible to be honest, but this was an act of defiance because sometimes we become so obsessed with the idea of everything looking good, to the point where we hold ourselves to standards of calligraphy style handwriting just to feel like everything’s in order. Why would this matter if I’m the only person reading my journal? If anything, it’s better that my handwriting looks like Morse code because it assures me that if anyone stumbles across it- they won’t be able to understand it anyway. Journaling is about self, it is messy, raw and honest, I personally refuse fall victim to feelings of inadequacy because my handwriting, setup up or layout isn’t as pretty as my favourite self care instagrammers. But that’s me, you may find comfort in over the top presentation, it may give you a bit more clarity.
How to start journaling: firstly, there are many guides on google and Instagram that have suggestions on how to journal. There are intentional styles- which basically encourage you to write down your intentions daily, what you are happy and grateful for, what you need to work on etc. this is the style of the coveted @alex.elle journal. There are also reflective and meditative styles where there are a few questions that you are encouraged to meditate on and reflect on your answers – the one thing I’d like to reiterate is that journaling is about being honest with your self- and the answers will not always be pretty. Examples of reflective question prompts are again Alex Elle’s questions which she is kind enough to share on her Instagram stories. Examples include questions such as “how are you blooming, what creates anxiety and how do you self soothe? How are you showing up for yourself?” these questions seem vague (because they are) but it is necessary because they are there for you to create meaning for yourself and not back you into a corner.
My personal journaling style is an array of different things:
- When my mind feels very cloudy- I will use prompting questions that I have probably used before to start myself off
- I use my own prompting questions that I make for myself because I know they will make me think
- Some days I write about the mood I am in and how I got there, a detailed description of my day and what I learnt from
- Other days I just write a few affirmations
- At times I form a 2-column table and prompt myself that way
- Other instances days I document my dreams because I am an avid dreamer
- Usually I write down notes from my favourite podcasts and books and why the words speak out to me
As you can see the list is exhaustive. I TRY to write a page each time, as a measure of how long to go for. Journaling is definitely helpful, as it can be used as a release and over time you will see a pattern of thoughts, negative behaviours, positive changes in your content and hopefully become more self-aware in reality.
Finding wisdom in listening to Podcasts + reading
I am a podcast fanatic, I set myself a target of 1 podcast a day, just to control the amount of time I use In my day for them. I listen to podcasts that promote self-awareness, self-love and care (and dabble heavily in marketing and entrepreneurship podcasts too). Podcasts are my way of learning from people and absorbing more knowledge. I am big on learning and actively seeking lessons and wisdom from everything and podcasts has made this an easier route for me to do this. I laugh, cry, and beam with joy daily with my favourite Podstars (can we make that a thing?). Podcasts achieve the same effect reading does for me, and although I don’t think one can replace the other Both are extremely beneficial in gaining an outside perspective on current situations you may be experiencing, teaching different ways to approach and understand things. I use reading and listening to podcasts as an act of self-care by surrounding myself and absorbing the right content and doing it daily. Some material has changed my life and approach in ways I cannot be grateful enough for. So yes, books and podcasts are amazing ways to realign and become more in touch with yourself. I plan to do a detailed post on my fave podcasts, books, journals, articles and blog sites before the end of the year so we can start 2018 on a high. But for now, My favourite ones at this current moment are:
- Black Girl in Om (pod)
- Myleik Teele’s podcast (pod)
- Hey girl by my fave Alex Elle (pod)
- Happy Black woman podcast by Rosetta Thurman (pod)
- Joyce Meyer Ejoying everyday life (pod)
- Upile Chisala – Nectar (book)
- Alex Elle- Neon soul (book)
- Peter F Drucker- Innovation and Entrepreneurship (book)
- Joyce Meyer- the confident woman (book)
- Norman Vincent Peale- The Power of Positive Thinking (book)
Finding and dedicating time for my self
Building and establishing a relationship with yourself is imperative! I had to cut out people from my life that were doing more harm than good, and I noticed once I did this, “me time” became less hard. When I came out of a past early teenage relationship (which I regret with my entire being and am still forgiving myself for) one of the distinctive ways I got to know myself and realign with Kemi was through time spent with and on myself. The more time I spent with myself sub-consciously changed the notions I had of myself. I started to become more confident and self-aware and at that time the practice of me time was unintentional it was just a natural response to my then situation. Nonetheless to spend time with yourself is to know yourself and this doesn’t always have to be at home with hot chocolate (although I wouldn’t mind if it was), as twitter loves to preach: it’s not always bubble baths and face masks (although self care practices like this are also important in learning how to take care and appreciate yourself, appearance and cultivate loving your physical self in the long run). Now that I understand the benefits of my own time more I have recently been intentionally spending my me time in the library, gym (great time to listen to my fave songs, pods and music), restaurants (thanks for introducing me to Gails Olivia and to prince of Peckham, Dami), boutique coffee shops etc. Some of these places are great for me to journal, plan or just enjoy my food and drink and treat myself!
This brings me onto my next pressing point: we cannot always wait on dates or significant others to treat us or fill our time. It is dangerous to correlate gifts, treats and dates as things done solely by other guys (talking to the ladies here) why should someone else be the only reason you go out to eat at a nice place? Or go to the cinema? If you don’t put yourself forward as a worthy candidate to be treated by yourself, you will always latch onto others because of the good experiences that they bring into your life, and sometimes this makes us make mistakes about who we keep around I our lives and how long for. If a guy can see me as deserving to take me to get my nails did then I can most certainly pay for a spa day for myself; if he can spoil me with attention, then I can spoil myself with my own attention 20x more. I am not saying that I don’t receive gifts or treats, I do. Rather, what I am alluding to is the fact that 1) we shouldn’t let this attention replace the attention and relationship we have with our selves (2) We shouldn’t let our relationships with significant others, or people we are seeing/ friends with- take over and replace the relationship we have with ourselves (3) don’t let good treatment towards yourself only come from others, we have to treat ourselves greater and more often because it is dangerous to only see yourself as deserving of good treatment and gifts if other people do it for us, this is equal to use putting our validation of self in their hands. Show up for yourself, you are worth it. Do it for yourself, so that when people come into your life, they don’t give you a love that you don’t know how give to yourself (apart from God’s love).
I have to go to the library and work on my masters thesis/dissertation. So I will stop here and post part two of this post tomorrow or something (I actually find it funny that I can write 2000 words easy in an hour but have been stuck on the same 2000 words for this disso for about a week). There are probably 101 spelling or grammatical errors in this and I am sure my friends will message me about them within the next day or so.
I hope you found this first half helpful or interesting, the remaining points that will post in part 2 include: Social media detox (especially for those who make a living from social media like me); Eating good foods and creating a healthy atmosphere. Plus, if any one has any tips for writing a dissertation that would be greatly appreciated, please comment below. AND if you relate to anything I have written, have tried it? Practice it- let me know how it is going for you and share other tips you have in practicing self care and becoming more self aware.
Love and light,