There are a lot of articles are out there on how to best care for yourself, physical and emotionally. One article really resonated with me, on how detrimental constant interaction with social media platforms can be. When I finally came around to really considering the advice posed by so many and finally deciding to do something about it, what I found was incredibly rewarding. And there are thousands of accounts and platforms dedicated to motivating and inspiring us to be the best versions of ourselves, teaching us how to invest in our physical, mental, and spiritual health.
I hope to introduce you to just a few that have helped me along the way.
So, I compiled a list, inspired both by personal experience and several Instagram accounts that I followed, on different ways that we can exercise #selfcare.
1) A Consistent Morning Skin-Care Routine
A consistent, nourishing skin-care routine is something that can make a world of difference; and it can be super practical. For example, my mother has been making her very own DIY mask from a mix of honey and yoghurt (which she applies two to three times a week) ever since she was thirty. She just celebrated her 60th birthday and, I kid you not, she does not look a day over 40! #SayMashallah
My favorite skin-care instagram accounts are @skincarehoney and @pullin.gravity. But the basics are simple: always have a facial cleanser on hand, facial moisturizer, and a sunscreen that contains Zinc Oxide (if it doesn’t contain this ingredient, consider your sunscreen useless). The more you invest research into this the more you will come across the benefits of facial oils, serums, vegan-friendly products worth applying, and face masks, but for my beginners focus on those three. The act of pampering yourself in the morning and night strictly for your own health and benefit is something that not only increases your health physically but mentally as well.
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The more you invest research into this, the more you will come across the benefits of facial oils, serums, vegan-friendly products worth applying, and face masks.. The act of pampering yourself in the morning and night strictly for your own health and benefit is something that not only increases your health physically but mentally as well. And, remember, no matter how much (or little) you end up doing, the key is always consistency.
2) Drink Water!
Okay, y’all, I know you’ve heard this more times than you can count, but believe me when I say that all the stories are true. The benefits of drinking water are through the roof! It helps clear up your skin, boosts your metabolism, helps with weight loss, activates your organs to function on an optimal level, hydrates your brain to avoid headaches– like, Masha’allah, the benefits are endless!
At minimum, you should get in two liters of water daily, but for best results you should aim for three to four liters of water per day. If that sounds like a lot, try and plan it throughout your day. For example, I make sure to get in at least 1.5 liters of water before noon. Or, filling up a handy water bottle regularly (and keeping track of how many times you refill) always helps. Planning makes the process less daunting for those who usually avoid water!
Just on a personal note, I am currently in the middle of my weight loss journey, and it’s a test that I struggle with daily. That being said, I can’t tell you how important implementing exercise into your week truly is, not just for those wanting to lose weight. Thankfully, there are so many accounts on instagram that have helped me when it comes to motivating me towards implementing my own exercise routine, and teaching me the best (most practical) exercises to do throughout the week.
Just to name a few of my favorites: @changingmyfatitude and @healthy_everyday_living constantly motivate and inspire people to embrace the benefits of exercise; and @surefatloss and @syattfitness give daily tips on what exercises to include in workouts and how to should remain conscious of the foods you put in your body.
You know the old saying sharing is caring? well I’m trying to care you to get your Monday workout done today because the grind is only loyal when you are. This is a great circuit style workout using compound moves (full body exercises). Four exercises, 12 reps of each exercises back to back. We are pushing out here ⛷ so rest only when needed. P.S. don’t be afraid to think outside the box if you don’t have access to a gym🎯. When I trained at home and could not afford weights I used 2 litre water bottles and food tins. Did that give me my baby muscles? no! but it meant I could still get my workout in and a decent sweat. Work with what you have and do what you can. It’s June and we have used up all the excuses from the jar. Now let’s werk.
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However, just as a basic layout for my beginners: try and find 30 minutes to put aside three times a week and fill those 30 minutes with something physical like walking, weight-lifting, dancing, cardio, whatever works for you! Plan those exercise sessions, implement those plans, and stay consistent. I promise you will feel the difference.
4) Listen to a Podcast/Take an Online Course
I know this is veering away from the physical self-care tips but, in truth, the mental and the spiritual self care tips are the ones you really don’t want to ignore!
As a Muslim who doesn’t know how to read the Qur’an in its original Arabic text, I really struggle when trying to engage with the English version– I just know there’s a jarring dissonance between the English translation and the beauty and meaning in the native Arabic. So, when I watch a 30-minute lecture highlighting elements of the Prophet’s life, or listen to a khutba (lecture) describing just how incredible Khadijah (the Prophet’s wife) was, I gain so much spiritual fulfillment from it– all while learning so much about my religion and coming closer to it.
So, this Ramadan, one thing that I did to gain more knowledge about my religion and feel spiritually fulfilled was listen to a podcast series called “The Purification of the Heart,” narrated by Mikhaeel Ahmed Smith. I also watched recorded khutbah’s uploaded onto Youtube by the Women’s Mosque of America.
Of course, the podcast or lecture doesn’t have to be religiously based, but do try and find a podcast that stimulates you on a spiritual, mental, and/or intellectual level. Investing in your growth as a human being, spiritually and intellectually, is truly one of the most valuable things you can do for yourself.
5) Read Books
I have been an avid book reader ever since Harry Potter was introduced to the world in all its glory, so this one might feel a bit biased, but really reading books on a consistent level is a huge mental investment! Reading books stimulates your mind, reduces stress, increases knowledge, expands your vocabulary, improves your memory, focus, and concentration, can increase your writing skills, the list goes on and on. It doesn’t have to be an epic novel; maybe even just an article or two when you wake up or before bed.
6) Tap Into Your Artistic Side
Now this really can mean anything from taking a ceramics class, scrapbooking photo albums, dabbling in some watercolors, or maybe just investing in one of those cool adult coloring books. I read this awesome article talking about the mental benefits of engaging in some sort of artistic and creative activity and let me tell you, consistent artistic engagement can potentially be life changing!
It reduces stress, gets you to start thinking creatively, boosts self-esteem, increases brain activity leading to a healthier brain that’s more aware, alert, and focused, and that’s just the beginning! The best part? Anyone can do it!
I know when we Muslims think about meditation, our mind sometimes goes to the five daily prayers. And that’s true; we have meditative breaks built into our daily religious schedule. But the benefits of meditation are so vast that doing more could only help.
This is something that I never personally took seriously until I started following a few transformation coaches/ fitness mentors on instagram. These people really opened my mind to the reality that we have to master our mental health first if we are ever truly going to gain physical health, as well as spiritual fulfillment and genuine happiness. Two of the most important tips I learned were: one, to develop a morning routine where we do NOT interact with any phones, emails, or social media at least for the first hour and a half of your day and two, to meditate anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes daily.
Usually, when we go throughout our day, we become complacent to our brain functioning on autopilot and being in control of whatever stressful thoughts it decides to throw in our direction. But, if we give ourselves just 15 minutes a day where we release our toxic hold of the past, our dominating frustrations with the present, and our anxiety for the future, and just let ourselves achieve a mindfulness that allows us to regain control of our thoughts and our temperament, we will change the course of the day ahead and have it play out in our favor regardless of the trials we will face. Just try it out!
8) Keep a Journal
I feel like this is one of the more cliche self-care tips I have to offer, but this is also an incredibly rewarding element you can include into your life because it allows you to maintain a direct relationship to your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual progress.
My advice: take the time to find a journal that speaks to you just on an aesthetic level, something that makes you excited to look at it and open it. Next, find your favorite pen, and never let it go. I know that that can be a lengthy frustrating process, but once you find a pen that you love, the satisfaction you get from using it will be infinite. And last, build and maintain consistency with this journal. You don’t necessarily have to write in a journal every day, but you should commit yourself to at least one journal entry per week. Just set aside 5 to 10 minutes on a Sunday morning and let your thoughts pour through the ink and onto the pages. Do not limit yourself on what you write! It can be about the frustrations you bottled up throughout the week, the epiphany about life you had while driving to work, or an idea you thought of that can potentially be great.
9) Green Smoothies!
On the real, these are the greatest form of natural medicine you can give your body to build its health and strength! Make this a part of your morning routine to get in several servings of fruits and veggies. I know when it comes to nutrition a lot of words and information gets thrown around, but for your green smoothies all you need to know are the names of two super food powerhouses: spinach and kale!
I know this sounds hipster, and makes you want to roll your eyes, but do not shirk the superfoods. If you find eating vegetables to be miserable and you can’t find many ways to make them delicious and incorporate them into your daily meals, this is the solution for you! You can shove several handfuls of spinach and kale into smoothies, add in some fruit and water, and not even taste the veggies, but you still get all of the rich nutrients and antioxidants that will rejuvenate your body.
10) Sleep! Like a Lot!
I felt like ending on this last note because this has got to be one of my favorite self-care tips. SLEEP!And I’m not talking about laying in bed with your phone, scrolling aimlessly through instagram. Seven to nine hours of solid sleep should be what you are aiming for. If you are not getting in those hours, try and incorporate naps into your day because it is vital for your health!
A lack of sleep can destroy your body in SO many ways. It can affect your skin, make you gain weight, mentally and emotionally destabilize you, and so much more. Sleep is truly essential and needs to be prioritized for you to achieve your healthiest self.