Sunday, 17 October, 2021

With the Wind

Dear Self

Tulip Chowdhury

Dear Self
Tulip Chowdhury

It’s surprising how much we could push our bodies when our souls are weary. Such acts would be from people who are sincere and helpful to others. All sounds good, but how much is enough is an excellent question to ask yourself that is too kind to say “No” and often agree to do things beyond your capacity. Paying attention to self, the “Me,” is self-awareness, and being kind to the soul keeps us breathing. There is a thin line between helping others and helping yourself to keep up your acts of kindness. Any one of them overlapping the other could lead to negative consequences.

While we would help others to the best of our means, overdoing could result in stress, get us sick, and no help at all. For instance, think of air travel; the adult passenger puts a mask when air pressure is low and helps the children. When we are at the better of a situation end, we need to be keeping it that way so that people at the other end can call us in times of need. The experts would tell us some “Dos and Don’ts” when taking care of yourself.

♦              Your body talks to you.  Listen to it and take up as much responsibility as you can without feeling pressured. The quote “Charity begins at home” holds weight when we look at the family. Family members are to be there for each other, but that does not mean one will be off the hook on daily chores or errands. The weekly and monthly planners with clear instructions of responsibilities are likely to be less stressful.  As an immigrant mother and a homemaker from Bangladesh, living in NY, Jolly is used to doing the household chores. Besides being a full-time mom, doing a weekend job, and driving the kids to school, she cooks for the family. Jolly feels sad when she has to get all her household chores done on weekends after a full day’s work at a local shop. She is exhausted after work, but her spouse and the sister-in-law who lives with them ignore her Jolly’s need to rest. She had heard stories of working women with fantastic family members who are super helpful to each other. At times Jolly wonders if a high job might bring her husband to appreciate more. Her well-wishers point out that she has to take care of herself, and some family members take her kindness for granted. It would be better to talk to them openly rather than be silent while pushing herself to the brink of exhaustion.

♦             Emotional burnout is a common way to refer to our feelings of being overwhelmed. According to Wikipedia, “Secondary Traumatic Syndrome is a condition characterized by emotional and physical exhaustion leading to a diminished ability to empathize or feel compassion for others, often described as the negative cost of caring.” At the same time, our physical self sends red lights from stress with a headache, fatigue, sleepless night, and so on. The stressed emotions are like a big fire in a small pit. They cannot find open ways to vent out. Sadly, for the modern world of the 21st century, when women are at the top of the helm in decisive moments of life, they continue to face silent oppression. You could hear women being advised not to “take it.” Often there is not much one can do right at the moment. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, and with professional help with time, family members can each do their part to lighten the relationships. The daily well keeping applies to all genders of a family, for they share a home.

♦              Personal self-care is a part of taking care of ourselves: the manicure, pedicure, massage, and so on. But those alone cannot keep us in sound health. The concept of self-care gets mixed with beauty and fashion. The whole idea of managing our diet, sleep, work, socialize all fall into our general lookout for us. Stress and lack of sleep lead to memory deterioration, skin wrinkles, hair loss, and more. No matter how many trips we take to the spa, our problems do not vanish without addressing the core issues. The physical and mental selves are like two buddies; they depend on each other for well-being. The constant demands of society to be successful in life stations burn us from the inside and trap us into fulfilling the wants of the materialistic world. Wealth and power may help us be content in life, but we drown in our storms when they enslave us.

♦               Another way to put giving yourself beyond your comfort zone is to be a people pleaser. Some people are super friendly and don’t know how to say “No” to requests. Sunny is a young man who doesn’t know how to deny permission to friends who borrow his car even if it means he is late to his class; he will let friends take his car for many reasons besides going to the doctor. Family members also depend on Sunny for help at home. He is the one to take the trash out, go to the laundromat, and so on. As anyone will tell you, co-dependency is not a healthy relationship to have with anyone around you.

♦              For daily or weekly health care keeping a slot open for a good walk is a good start to being attentive to yourself. Exercise without a good diet would not benefit the full benefit of physical activity. Finding the food that your body feels good is no rocket science. At best, taking professional help is good. In the long run, knowing one’s own body is a process to follow in daily routine: understanding which food makes your body react or the ones that keep you stable. The wiser ones do not take health tips blindly, for each body has its mechanism of coping with what we eat, how we eat, and when we sleep. They watch and learn about their bodies. Giving time to hobbies and enjoying the company of friends is like life elixirs to one’s well-being. The emotional being is not visible outward, but when it picks fire, a volcano erupts to spew out its destructive lava.

♦              Many problems in our societies and nations stem from our mental selves: the people who cause them and the victims.  As Sanam Saeed an acclaimed actress says, “We need to start identifying the triggers that aggravate mental health issues in our society - bullying, social media negativity and anxiety, gender-based violence, substance abuse, stigma around issues such as maternal issues, etc., and we need to speak up about these more and get to the source of the problems.”


Tulip Chowdhury writes from Massachusetts, USA