Saturday, 16 October, 2021
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Self-care: A Tool of Empowerment for Women

Jainab Tabassum Banu Sonali

Self-care: A Tool of Empowerment for Women
Jainab Tabassum Banu Sonali

As COVID-19 has tossed a yank in the country, the work-life balance has actually volatilised especially for women. Around 35 countries in the world could show gender parity during this pandemic according to a statistical report. However, 120 countries still show a remarkable gender gap. From education to health and from household chores to workforce participation, women are being tested in every sector. In a systematic sexist society, any woman and her issues come later. Even women themselves put their lives, personal choices and priorities later and sometimes even cannot recognise their self-worth. As a matter of fact, the suffering of women causes wretchedness in the entire community. When a part suffers, the whole ultimately falls apart too.

Let me ask a series of rhetorical questions. Who is doing the majority of household chores? Who is mostly responsible for homeschooling? Who is waking up first in the morning to wake others up later? Who is crying frantically for not being able to fit into the given box? The simple answer to all these questions is: a WOMAN! The discriminatory society has its own sets of ideology to make a woman believe that she needs to work for others first and then for herself later (if she still has a little life left to her). This notion is rooted in the racist, sexist and discriminatory tormented history of human civilization. Even, whenever a woman tries to look for her self-actualization, she feels guilty. She feels selfish, lazy and self-indulgent. There is a misconception that needs to be broken with clearly uttered words. And let me take the privilege to do that!

Self-care or personal care is not a selfish act. Rather it is a wonderful tool of empowerment. Women, especially mothers, often forget to take care of themselves. They do not eat before the family finishes the meals. They wake up early and go to sleep late, because they think that they are the standing military force, and even a one-man-army, in the family. Now, dear mothers and ladies, when you take care of others and make them feel secured, you ultimately empower them with your verbal and non-verbal gestures, with your love and care and with all the humanly dedication one can possibly offer. It is great to be kind and generous to others. That is what we all should do as humans. But have you ever thought of doing the same things to yourself?

Before anxiously saying, “no one takes care of me”, we should rather ask “am I taking a good care of myself? Am I kind to myself? Do I do anything for my emotional and spiritual happiness? Am I eating on time and doing physical exercises to keep my health fit and fine?” Self-care has nothing to do with selfishness. It is a simple way of taking care of your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. It is more than meditating and journaling your emotions down on a piece of paper. It is appreciating your own worth and respecting the choices you have made so far. It is not just a coping mechanism but also a wonderful tool of empowerment.

When you hear good things about you, you feel positive. A simple token of love makes you smile. A set of appreciative words boosts your confidence level. You really work so hard that sometimes you tend to go beyond your capacity to please others. You rely on the outsiders for your happiness. It is important to look for positive vibes and motivation inwardly. Let me simply crack the hard nut to you. Please understand and admit that whatever you do, you cannot make everyone happy at the same time. The world is full of different kinds of human beings. Your efforts to make everyone jovial and then seek positive vibes from them is a near-to-impossible act. Therefore, it is better you focus on the only person who really stays with you no matter what: that’s yourself!

We, women, have a tendency to cultivate conventional shames and guilts in us. The corporate culture has turned women into competitors. We are endangering our sisterhood by just falling into the trap of corporatization. Although self-care is an individual act, the motivation comes from a healthy and positive support system. Look around and ask yourself, “does this support system make me feel empowered and appreciated? Or it makes me worthless and trashy?” If the latter is true in your case, it is high time you formed a new and enthusiastic support system. Be with those who admire you for what you are and who you are. Focusing on a constructive support system is also a way of doing self-care which ultimately empowers you and your entire women community.

Dear ladies, caring for yourself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation. You need to preserve yourself before you get lost in the labyrinth of social expectations. Eat healthy. Take a good bath. Meditate. But if you sit in a corner and meditate all day saying “I will accomplish this and that”, it will never happen. You have to work for it and make it happen. Working on actualizing your dreams is also a way of caring for yourself. Never say “yes” when you mean “no”. See what makes you happy. Do that! See what makes you feel toxic. Avoid that! Seek help from others. Don’t feel shy to admit that you are a human being too. There is no greater joy than to be kind to your own beautiful self!

 

The writer is a Lecturer, Department of English Language and Literature, Premier University Chittagong