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I left my apartment this morning. This sweet place with white walls and a beautiful view of grass green hills, was a lover that was not meant to last for a long time. A lovely stay that never really felt like home. Lately, I’m not quite sure what home feels like. Sitting in a tiny square on the floor, midst an unplugged refrigerator, a couple dissembled bookshelves and a few boxes, I am not completely sure of how I feel or what I want from myself. Between moving homes all the time, career crises and existential conflicts, life has become a glorious little chaos. Sitting down to write about self-care for a website, I have now had a cup of tea, a cup of coffee, have put on my “focus” playlist and looked at creative Instagram accounts for inspiration. Yet, I find myself struggling to find the right words. As simple as it may sound, self-care is a tad complicated to figure out.

Image source: Feminism In India

My little sister came to visit me for a month and a half in June. I remember we picked her up from the airport and laughed about the cabbie’s ringtone on the way to one of my favourite restaurants, before we headed home. About 40 days from then, is all sort of a blur. I have been spending a lot of time on autopilot—forgetting details and losing the essence of a moment.

Many times, self-care to me is giving my brain the space to feel vulnerable, annoyingly negative and powerless. Changing the narrative from “I am such a negative person” to “I am negative right now” with no judgement is a big part of taking care of myself.

She left yesterday and I cannot believe how quickly the time went by. There has been too much to worry about, and sometimes it’s easier to not think about the gravity of a situation while you’re in it. It’s easier to just mindlessly get by. I would love to write about how helpful it is to take yourself to therapy, treat yourself to a nice meal at a fancy eatery or watch a favourite show with a sheet-mask on, but in all honesty, caring for yourself in chaos is a hard thing to do. 

Like the twisting and turning of a washing machine, my brain has been a swirly mess of too much and nothing at all. With early mornings of black tea and nocturnes, throwing out the empty bottles of shampoo before stepping into the shower, light-hearted conversation with a friend over cakes, writing heartless articles for commercial travel companies who want me to edit out the parts about the local delicacies and street-food, because the foreigners coming to explore India are “luxury travellers who are on a culinary tour to taste wine and exquisite food.” (Okay, maybe that was too specific)—in important and inconsequential moments, I have only looked for meaning. And to my disappointment, I have found very less meaning in my decisions. However, lately, I am starting to realize that my definition of ‘meaningful’ might be flawed. 

I think caring for oneself starts with recognizing what is meaningful to one in the present. It doesn’t have to look like someone else’s meaningful. There is no fixed template. I guess sometimes caring for yourself starts with questioning and readjusting what self-care means to you.

Image source: Twitter

Niki, my older sister is an untiring advocate of positive thinking. Over cups of chai in the evenings of getting together to talk about the future and now, she often interrupts me with, “Don’t say that so negatively! Say instead that it will work out.” I love my sister more than anything in the world, but man, do I want to roll my eyes every time she does that. “I don’t think to resist my negative thoughts will do me any good. I will be my positive self again when I feel like it.“, I tell her. And more often than not, I do get back to a place of clear-headedness and positivity.

Many times, self-care to me is giving my brain the space to feel vulnerable, annoyingly negative and powerless. Changing the narrative from “I am such a negative person” to “I am negative right now” with no judgement is a big part of taking care of myself.

Image source: Mindful

A newbie minimalist, I have found a way to take care of myself in my chaos by simplifying life in little steps. One morning sitting at my messy coffee table and shoving papers and clutter into a pile to make place for my cup, I finally decided I had too much stuff that I did not need. Stuff that completely took over my mind as well as the blue coffee table I love and wanted to use. So I went through my clothes and donated more than half my closet. Saved a few papers from journals full of thoughts and drawings, that I had kept for sentimental reasons, expressed my gratitude for the quiets they shared with me over the years and let them go.

Responsibilities, hardships and temporary ‘not-working’s are scary and inevitable. But taking care of yourself through all of it is the one thing that is absolutely in your control, in one way or another.

Slowly, I sorted through my dishes, mugs, accounts I followed on Instagram and newsletters that I was subscribed to. I sat down to mindfully notice how the people in my life make me feel. Are this person and I, really friends or have I always felt obligated to have a relationship because I’ve known of them for years? I am working only on having intentional things that serve a purpose. Last week, I sold my big wooden bed. For the life that I envision for myself, I don’t need big pieces of furniture that I don’t really, really want. Turns out I am starting to have about 15% more clarity about what I really, really want. That counts for something, aye?

Also read: How To Prioritise Self-Care During The Triggering Time Of #MeToo

Sitting midst unpacked boxes half-worried about life-things right now, self-care looks to me like a hot cup of coffee with a dash of milk and a good spoon of sugar. It’s accessible and I can imagine how nice it’s going to taste and go along, with the Lo-Fi music that I am listening to. I know I’m going to be an anxious mess again when I start to contemplate my ambitions once more, when I plug the refrigerator in the new kitchen and irrationally worry about it not working till it starts working again, and when I have to respond to yet person about yet another thing. Responsibilities, hardships and temporary ‘not-working’s are scary and inevitable. But taking care of yourself through all of it is the one thing that is absolutely in your control, in one way or another.

Maybe minimalism does not make sense for the life that you’re in right now. Maybe you cannot make time to self-reflect and sort your thoughts. Well, then here is a question that might make things simpler for you: What is one small thing that you can do right at this moment to make yourself about 10% more comfortable?

Image source: Cams Kids

Maybe it’s making your bed and taking a nap, looking at all the pastries at the bakery, taking a walk, taking a shower, lighting that one candle you have been saving, crying, taking a scissor to an old shirt and making it a new crop-top, cleaning out that coffee table you love. Just one thing—not to make your life better, not the solution to your problems, not the most rational and clever thing to do, but just something to make happier this little moment under your nose. 

Also read: Why Caregiving Needs To Move Beyond The Boundaries Of Gender

Taking care of yourself in chaos is a really difficult thing to do. So let’s not try to figure that out just yet. Let’s start with this minute. If nothing at all, make this writing your little self-care. Make some tea. Sit down.


Featured Image Source: Mindful


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