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Self-preservation is the key to a happy life

Beyond pamper sessions and Self-care Sundays, looking after yourself extends to protecting your mental and emotional well-being. Only when your cup is full can you give from the overflow. We’ve roped in the experts to help you put it into perspective.

The literal meaning of self-preservation is to protect yourself from harm or death. In the context of Covid-19, we’ve become accustomed to taking precautionary measures daily as we endeavour to protect ourselves and our families. The past few months have been stressful, which is why it’s more important than ever to look after yourself, says life coach Sharon Piel. “It’s about taking care of your emotional, social and spiritual needs by managing stress, practising self-compassion and staying connected to your loved ones.” But, as a transformational coach, author and international speaker, Justin Cohen, points out, this shouldn’t be at another person’s expense. Rather, it should serve both parties. Justin shares this practical example. “When you’re on an aeroplane, as in life, the air steward instructs you to take care of your oxygen mask before helping other people.” So, how can you practise self-preservation in different scenarios such as at work, home or in your relationships? “A doctor will advise you to exercise, eat five portions of fruit and vegetables and sleep for seven to eight hours a day,” says Justin. Following his or her advice is just as good for your mind as it is for your body.

So, keep the following in mind: healthy body, healthy brain, healthy mind. “How kind and compassionate are you when you’re distressed, frustrated or unhappy? When you’re good to yourself, you’re good to others.” Conversely, being unhealthy harms your creativity, focus and empathy. But where do you draw the line between focusing on your needs and being selfish? It’s selfish to manipulate someone into doing something that serves your needs but not theirs, such as taking their money and giving them nothing in return. However, let’s say you end a relationship that isn’t working for you. Justin says that even though it may hurt the other person, ultimately, it’s good for them, “because if it’s not working for you, sooner or later it’s not going to work for them either”. That’s mutual self-preservation because it’s an unselfish act that’ll benefit both of you in the long run. Our experts agree that the best form of self-care isn’t selfish. “When we take care of ourselves, we can take care of and serve others,” says Sharon. As the saying goes, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’. “If you’re feeling drained, emotionally and physically, you’re more susceptible to illness because stress and overwhelm lowers your immune system,” she adds. Ultimately, self-care is crucial for your wellbeing, allowing you to perform at your optimum and show up as the best version of yourself.

Practicing self-care Sharon Piel’s Tips:

Physical

  • Get enough rest and sleep, eat regular, healthy meals, drink plenty of water, and go out in the sunshine and exercise daily.
  • Make your living and working environment healthy by removing clutter and toxic people.
  • Make time for fun, whether it’s a hobby, sport or reading.

Emotional

  • Healthy ways to cope with stress include meditation, mindfulness and breathing exercises, journalling, and exercise (yoga, especially).
  • Set boundaries, especially if you’re working from home. Your work day should end at the same time you’d usually leave the office.

Social

  • Contact family and friends regularly, using an app such as Zoom or Skype.
  • Build a support system. It helps when you’re feeling down and in need of encouragement.

Spiritual

  • Spend time alone – in nature, if possible – meditate or pray.
  • Express your creativity through music or art.

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