Self-care: A work in progress


Photo by Arisha Hirji

I was born an overthinker. I grew up caring what everyone thinks of me, automatically assuming someone is mad about something I said or feeling that everyone is staring at me when I wear a top that hugs my body. Growing up the youngest in the household, everyone was constantly nagging me for every insignificant detail of my life: “Ashna, don’t wear that; it’s too short.” Or if I try to stand up for myself, “Ashna, don’t say anything; what will people say?” As a teenager, I noticed that these sayings became my biggest insecurities and accumulated into my heightened anxiety. 

When the pandemic hit, being left alone with my worries and insecurities put me in the deepest slump. Online school did not work to my benefit and my mental health plummeted further. I woke up, looked at myself with complete disappointment, and ran away from my biggest problem: myself. 

I was constantly avoiding precedences that played a crucial role in my future. If it was difficult for me to face, I would evade the circumstance at all costs. For the first few months of the pandemic, this was a consistent routine. I would label these essential problems as irrelevant and simply move on with my life. It wasn’t until I took a good look at myself and realized that I, alone, was enough that my self-care journey began. Like every journey, it was a challenging quest, but the biggest takeaway from its beginning was that change takes time. Below, I have a list of habits that I found sufficient and productive throughout my self-care journey. 


Exploring new styles:

Like everyone else during quarantine, leaving my house became a rare activity, so I ended up spending most of my spare time creating a new style through online shopping. The downside to this was that I had nowhere to strut this new me, so I decided to start slowly by making a Pinterest board with clothes I loved but never had the confidence to wear. 

Online shopping forced me to get rid of my previous mindset by pushing myself to press the order button, buying clothes out of my comfort zone, and seeing them at the front of my closet. Especially being back at school, showing off my new and improved style has boosted my confidence more than ever. 


Setting up a routine: 

Staying at home throughout the entire school year completely ruined my motivation and work ethic. I became lazy and lost rhythm with my priorities. When I came up with a routine and started planning the day from beginning to end, it pushed me to complete most of my tasks.

The most helpful thing about having a routine was writing out what to clean in my room, when to take a break, or even reminding myself to brush my teeth before sleep. Writing out the minor details made me feel obligated to complete these tasks. Meeting a set schedule before school makes me feel ready for what’s to come during the day and helps me plan for when school is over. 


Having music-free moments:

During online school, I began my morning by playing my playlist from the minute I woke up. Listening to music completely distracted me from focusing on the content I was supposed to be learning, resulting in me not understanding the homework that night. It was challenging to navigate through other aspects of my day when songs were constantly playing in my ear. 

Music plays an immense role in my life, so focusing on my priorities and giving up something I love was difficult. As a result, I came up with a compromise. I refrained from listening to music during class, but only while working on assignments. By doing this, avoiding music during the day allowed me to focus on my priorities which favor my productivity. Being back at school in person also minimizes my urge to listen to music, because teachers present information before me, which genuinely forces me to pay attention to what they say. 

Working on improving my mental health is a dilemma I had been trying to understand for the majority of my high school career. Looking at myself as a freshman to a now senior, it is easy to spot a difference in confidence. 

Practicing self-care is a meaningful aspect that must be learned at some point in life. Recognizing flaws through reflection authorizes room for growth and self-love. Learning how to approach features that seem resentful as early as possible sprouts confidence immediately, which becomes easily noticeable. Of course, it takes time to present this newfound confidence, but once that love is within, there is no way to keep it inside.