A few months ago, I had a very busy schedule, working on a big project with a colleague of mine and coming home to resume the tedious job of nurturing my household.
I was always striving to realize a new goal and meeting the excessive expectations I had of myself at the expense of being the well-rounded woman I was supposed to be. In the process, I neglected myself. Days rolled in and out and in no time, I began to feel inadequate, looking at my reflection in the mirror and disliking what I saw.
I resented everything around me and my discomfort continued to grow. Then finally, I paused. It took me quite some time to figure out what was wrong and in the end, I realized that I wasn’t taking care of myself. This and not the things around me was what needed to be fixed.
Self-care is a fundamental aspect of being a Muslim
This is not just to boost productivity and a positive life but is also a way of showing gratitude to Allah (SWT) for the precious gift of health and wellness. So many of us get too engrossed in the hurly – burly of life; neglecting ourselves in the process.
However, it won’t be long before we’re battered from exhaustion and we begin to operate in a mental fog which makes it difficult to forge ahead even in the daily activities that consume our time. How then do we as Muslims set ourselves up for well-rounded success in this life and the next by practicing self-care? The secret lies in looking into the sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) to implement tiny self-care habits into our daily lives. Here are a few tips to ensure a proper care of ourselves:
1. The Body
• Eat in moderation. Narrow your food choices by picking a few healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners and rotating them for the week. Drink an extra glass of water or add an extra portion of fruits or veggies to each meal. Include super foods from the sunnah like dates, raw honey, watermelon, yoghurt, cucumbers and what you have into your diet.
The Prophet (PBUH) said: “No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are a few morsels to keep his back straight. But if he must fill it, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath.” (Tirmidhi)
• Get active by taking walks at intervals or going up and down the stairs instead of taking the lift. You can also schedule at least 10 minutes every morning for light exercises. The Prophet ﷺ used to keep fit by racing, riding horses and playing archery. He said:
“Teach your children swimming, archery and horse riding.” (Sahih Muslim)
• Give your body a treat by picking wardrobe items which feel great on your skin. Get at least ten minutes of the sun especially if you’re in a cold climate. Squeeze out time at least once a week to pamper yourself by going for a spa or having a massage. Stay a bit longer in the bath tub or under the shower, then breathe, relax and feel refreshed.
• Take quick naps at least for ten to twenty minutes every day. This will reduce your sleep debt and get you ready to take on more tasks. The Prophet (PBUH) encouraged us to take short naps—Qailulah—between the hours of dhuhr and asr.
2. The Mind
• Make out some time for meditation and reflection. Unplug yourself from the world for at least one hour. Switch off your cell phones and go somewhere quiet; probably a designated place for an uninterrupted “me” time. Be still. Sit close to nature, perhaps somewhere green and be quiet for the short time. Tune in to your thoughts, feelings and sensations while breathing and reflect on your immediate environment.
The Prophet (PBUH) used to spend time alone for meditation in the cave of Hira and it was on one of these occasions that he received the first revelation from Allah ﷻ.
•Do a mini de-clutter every now and then by recycling three things from your closet that you don’t really love or wear. You can also fix a small provoking situation at home that’s been nagging you. It could be a leaking sink, a light bulb that’s gone or a broken door handle.
• Make time to do the things you love. It could be reading a book over a good cup of aromatic tea, trying out a new recipe in the kitchen, playing a favorite game or sport, visiting a museum or art gallery, trying your hands out at sewing or even helping others. Just do what makes you feel good.
• Kick off the peeping tom by doing something that has been on your to-do list for ages that you’ll never do.
• Take out any negative people in your life. The prophet (PBUH) said:
“The likeness of a righteous friend and an evil friend is the likeness of a (musk) perfume seller and a blacksmith. As for the perfume seller, he may either bestow something on you or you may purchase something from him or you may benefit from his sweet smell. And as for the blacksmith, he may either burn your clothes or you may be exposed to his awful smell.” (Bukhari and Muslim).
3. The Soul
• Plan your day around the five daily prayers. No matter how busy you are, do not lose your five daily connections to Allah. Endeavor to pray at the right time.
• Spend some time with the Qur’an either by reading, listening to its recitation or reflecting on few of its verses. This will set you up for daily success, filling you with a daily dose of strength and inspiration.
• Give kindness and charity by helping others. It could be carrying a bag for someone, making someone smile, sharing your meal with neighbors, donating money or a few wardrobe items and what have you. Apart from improving your relationship with Allah, it also boosts your levels of happiness and life satisfaction.
The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people then asked, “But what if someone has nothing to give, what should he do? The Prophet replied, “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked, “If he cannot find even that?” He replied, “He should help the needy who appeal for help,” Then the people asked, “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet said finally, “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charitable deeds.”
• Connect with other Muslims by going to halaqas at the masjid, attending Islamic conferences and seminars, visiting friends and family, planning fun Islamic activities amongst other things.
A daily incorporation of tiny self-care activities into your routine will lift the fog, increasing your levels of productivity and positivity and making you feel more connected to yourself and the world around you. You will delight in the small pleasures you’ve created for yourself and nothing will seem quite as difficult as it ever did. And what’s more, it will also enrich your life, improving your relationship with your Creator and setting you up for success in this life and the hereafter.
Originally published on HAYATI MAGAZINE