Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too. – L.R. Knost

Author: Anonymous

As children of immigrants, we’re trained to feel ashamed of all of our opportunities. I say trained because, for me, this has stemmed from a lifetime of being reminded by my parents of the things I have that they never had: an education, a stable, well-paying job, good work conditions, money to spend on clothes, a social life. The list feels endless and sometimes, they’re for things I never even asked for, like having siblings!

This family game of haves and have nots has one loser and it’s me every time. As the loser, I consciously or subconsciously spend every waking hour giving back in some form, whether that means helping a younger sibling with their homework, taking grandma to the bathroom, translating a document for mum, or helping dad out with yet another computer issue. In the hours I’m not doing something, I’m feeling guilty or thinking about what I should be doing. It’s ultimately a never-ending rat race leaving little time for myself, which sends me and my relationships into a downward spiral. I find myself getting sad, anxious, or angry without even knowing why. 

Coming into the sixth week of lockdown in Sydney, I’ve decided enough is enough. This lifestyle of self-loathing is stressful, emotional, and simply not sustainable. I’ve decided that helping myself will help me help others. Dry July is out, and Nonconformist August is in. Who’s with me?

Starting today, I vow to do something daily for myself, including but not limited to:

Incidental activities

·        Daydreaming while doing the vacuuming

·        Dancing to music while cooking

·        Chatting to a friend over the phone

·        Playing music

·        Deep breathing

·        Literally laughing out loud

·        Accepting that it’s okay to feel sad

Activities that take 5 minutes or less

·        Lighting an aromatic candle

·        Chilling in the garden

·        Having a guilt-free afternoon snack

·        Spending a few minutes out in the sun

·        Asking for help

·        Moisturising mindfully

·        Setting screen time limits

·        Playing with a pet

·        Picking/buying fresh flowers

·        Cuddling a loved one

·        Decluttering my social media accounts

·        Meditating for 5 minutes

Activities that take longer than 5 minutes

·        Enjoying a cup of tea

·        Going for a walk

·        Enjoying a warm bath/shower

·        Reading a good book

·        Vegging out in front of the television

·        Exercising

·        Practising creativity – painting, drawing, singing

·        Rearranging the furniture

·        Baking something

·        Journaling