“Unprecedented” – a word that entered everyone’s colloquial language and understanding. It became synonymous with the times we are currently experiencing. Above all, a sense of collective grief, loss and trauma. The 2020 pandemic brought even the politically powerful nations to their knees. In these tough times, when collective solidarity was the need of the hour. As a result, we, to protect each other, from the worst – isolated from each other.
Consequently, the virtual spaces became our strongest support system. But, this “new normal” was here to stay, for a long time. Most importantly, we adjusted to remaining away from any form of human touch with our loved ones. Sayfty Trust under the tutelage of Dr. Shruti Kapoor, (Founder and CEO, Sayfty Trust) brought together a one of a kind summit.
The Sayfty Self Care Summit hosted on 26th and 27th June, 2021 opened to everyone who identified themselves as women. Co-hosted by The Villoo Poonawalla Foundation, The Canadian Consulate General India in Mumbai and partners Benetton India and Juicy Chemsitry, it was a two-day-long virtual summit. The goal of the summit was to focus on “self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic”. Therefore creating a space for all its participants to heal, connect and engage. Most importantly, it allowed us to focus on an individual’s personal and mental well-being.
For example, the event hosted a variety of activities, sessions and discussions centered around self-care. Especially as the shadow pandemic’s effects are seeping into women and their lives. The feedback from the self-care summit participants are very encouraging.
The sessions as expected turned out well. The invited session conductors were experts in their field. The entire experience was focused on self-reflection, mindfulness, and pacing down in life. An inward reflection, while giving a breather to ourselves.
Each session therefore hosted was carefully curated keeping in mind the restrictions in pandemic. Since it focussed all around self-care and mental health as a result the audience could relate it to everyday life. Attendees took away small steps that could impact their lives greatly. As we are spending most of our time indoors. The sessions’ content was relevant and helpful.
At a time when all of us are struggling to purposely keep our distance from our loved ones. Embracing small gestures of comfort are elusive to humans. Certainly, the genteel understanding and personal touch by each of the presenters was the key highlight. The focus was on the attendees. Although virtual spaces cannot replace the joy of ‘meeting’, in the current situation it is a welcome change.
For most people, it was a safe space where they interacted with each other. People of varied nationalities were brought together, discussing their experiences. Moreover, everyone was respectful of each other and their diversity. Therefore, this allowed everyone to open up and let their hair down.
The presenters went a long way in making everyone feel as if ‘at home’ from their homes. Their approach was appreciated, a humbling experience for all. Sessions were flowing smoothly, without interruptions.
The focus was on self-love. Especially for women who are indoctrinated since childhood to avoid putting themselves first. An inherent guilt, engulfs them. As if they are ‘neglecting’ themselves. While it is important to keep oneself mentally, physically and emotionally stable so as to extend our love to our family and friends.
Felt Like Home
It is ironic how our brick and mortar spaces that we call ‘home’, that shelter us are the same spaces that are exhausting us. More so, because we have been confined to these spaces forcefully. To ‘stay at home’ and ‘feel at home’ are two different emotions. For most the circumstances are different and maybe precarious. The summit gave everyone a space to “feel at home”, a feeling that most of us have been longing for.
Mind, Heart, Body & Soul
The sessions were all focused on the individual self. It encompassed all aspects of an individual’s life. The balanced sense of self, empowering oneself through their own efforts. With the presenters being utmost gentle and the guiding force towards those in attendance. A constant reminder and message that resonated through all the sessions – that – the power to self-love and healing lies within our reach and minimal efforts.
Begins From Within
Every journey begins from within. For most of the women who attended the sessions, the decisions they made to register themselves was the first step. A step towards acknowledging that they ‘deserved’ a break too. An important realisation in the lives of women. The time they ‘gifted’ to themselves, makes each of us feel beautiful, about our existence.
The bounty of the summit’s sessions were the sessions focusing on mindfulness. There were varied ways for each one of us to reach this through a variety of ways. For some, it was the high-intensity zumba, for others it was the quietude of meditation. Or perhaps, the art of zentangle, or mindful writing. Each session’s approach was different but the end result achieved was similar.
Here are some of the key takewaays from the two-days summit
The pressure of the pandemic not only affects every women, but also our ability to build stable communities in this environment self-care has never been more important.
As women we put ourselves last. Focusing on self-care is not selfish.
Gratefulness is the true key to happiness. Think about thoughts of love, courage and compassion and look within.
Beauty and skincare can be very simple and doesn’t need to be complicated. Therefore, don’t fall for marketing gimmicks. One can use everyday kitchen ingredients for example Aloe vera, potato, oats, coffee, coconut etc.
When we are stressed we eat more, and therefore use food solely for comfort, But one can practice self-care in nutrition. A self care approach to health is more sustainable in the long run. Eat to nourish
I choose to self-love and be here, completely for me.
During this pandemic, increase in mental health issues including burnout has impacted women, thats why it is critical to highlight the importance of self-care and invest in tools of self-care.
Is it really work-life balance? Work is one part of my life. Changing language, perspective is a powerful tool towards balancing my various life roles. Work being one of them and not all of it.
Creating simple art like Zentangle can be helpful for self-care. Zentangle is therapeutic and therefore feels like meditating with a pen. It also makes an artist out of each one of us
Focus on self and to accept situations as is and take one step-at a time.
Cooking healthy dishes needn’t be complicated. According to Chef Maneet Chauhan, Cooking is not about following recipes, its about putting your own signature on dishes.
During the breath work and meditation session we were reminded to be kind to ourself. We like stillness, clarity but everything is a process and it takes time. That is perfectly ok and we must understand that.
Make fitness a part of your self-care routine. Zumba teacher Sucheta Pal, encouraged us to groove to the music while following simple Zumba steps. Fitness can be as simple as keeping your body moving regularly.
Do check out these other articles about the Self-care summit
About The Author
Ayushi Mehta (She/Her) is a masters student of Gender Studies at Ambedkar University, Delhi. She is an intersectional feminist and is passionate about women’s rights, gender, & policy related research. A trained Bharatanatyam dancer, who swears by Faiz’s couplets. Here is another blog by Ayushi that you might enjoy. Follow her on Twitter
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