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The Aram

with Tahmina Begum
I'm so tired of self-care this week. I even shared this tweet by author Rakesh Satyal on The Aram's Instagram and with over 900 likes and counting, it looks like everyone else is feeling the same way too.

I have been so 'bad' at taking care of myself recently. Of going to bed before 2 am, of switching off from work, of having a life outside of the internet and this keyboard. I've been agitated when my moments of peace have been disturbed i.e. barking at family members when my already flailing pilates poses have come wobbling down and all because I'm somewhat burnt out and haven't rested properly. 
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Something I struggle with when it comes to the topic of self-care is how it can become an external way of judging yourself instead of simply enjoying your life. Capitalistic self-care has become something you should be good at and another thing for you to do. At times, it misses the human parts of our lives, the bits that can't be smoothed over. Such as the necessary weeks of unrest, in order to remind you of how hard you've worked for the ease you're attempting to maintain now. 

Another observation I've made recently (thanks to therapy) is that I have bought into this idea of perfectionism. Not the kind that means thriving in domesticity or appearing a certain way but someone who tries either their best at everything or doesn't try at all. This is all to say, I find myself exerting 210% energy into tasks that need only the bare minimum. It’s exhausting and cumbersome. This can be applied to the ways in which I have been taking care of myself too. 

My internal pressure and standard of perfection can easily disable any kind of effort. It means I procrastinate because of how large a task seems in my head, and then rush, for example, a night-time routine because whoosh, look at the clock, it's now midnight. I forget that five minutes of being present and sound in my body is better than the planned twenty or none. 

It also makes the larger ideas in life such as climate change or fighting for women's rights, and equality for Black and brown bodies feel like an upward battle instead of one which oscillates. As if you have to always give that 210% in order for any effort to count. 
I realise we perfectionists do this because we’ve internalised somewhere that if everything is done well then nothing can go wrong. I know many children of immigrants feel this deeply as we’ve rarely been afforded the allowance to misstep.

Yet, there is something between everything and nothing. It's in these small and consistent acts that cause real individual and social change. Innocent chit-chat about a cause that eventually gets shared across social media and ends up in our living rooms then moves upwards into the right offices and goes on to alter culture and policies. It's a love letter in how connected we all are. 

So in March, one of my intentions is to live in the middle and not underestimate the impact of small and consistent acts. This week has been a reminder that this is where real change happens, and we all know the latter is already a long game. I'm going to make my wants and desires attainable plus joyful. And just be. There's something in that too. 

With ease and consistency inshallah,

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This edition of The Aram is sponsored by Social Supermarket. The first partnership for the newsletter (yay!!!).

Social Supermarket houses over 80 social enterprises that give more to the world than they take back. All brands are sustainable, conscious and are vetted through a sustainable guideline. Social Supermarket also features over 1,000 products from food, drink, accessories and gifts. Use code TAHMINASENTME10 for 10% off your mother's day gifts (and for treating yourself, of course) as well as 10% off your first order when you sign up for Social Supermarket's newsletter
Small & Consistent Acts
That Help Me Expand And Be

In light of being tired of self-care while feeling the pressure to excel in everything all the time, Social Supermarket asked me about the five small and consistent acts I do, in order to come back to myself. These are the things that have been the catalyst for real personal change. Feel free to switch them up, so they work *for you*. 
1) Setting monthly intentions 
Since the end of 2019, I've been writing down my monthly intentions. These are a couple of attainable goals for the different parts of my life. When I first started to write them down, I realised I was meeting career targets easily (hello, external validation) but forgetting to prioritise hobbies, family, health and spirituality. The evidence was a reflection of how imbalanced my lifestyle really was and is still rather telling every month. Here's a snapshot for this month inshallah. 
2) Take time with your body
It's so easy to come out of the shower, quickly moisturise (we always moisturise here), and then throw on fresh clothes and be done. However, this year, I've made the conscious decision to slow down and truly take those two minutes to massage all the parts that carry me every day, instead of faffing around. You might find this woo-woo and wonder how this helps you grow, but what's central here is gratitude. In order for me to even write this, I need everything to be functioning properly.

3) Date yourself
Date yourself pls! Just like you'd calendar in a meeting, box in time every week to take yourself out for a walk, do an activity that means prioritising your leisure, and romance yourself. If you don't block out time for yourself, trust me, others will take it up for you.
4) Morning pages
This is the act of writing out your stream of consciousness after you wake up (or before you go to sleep). Try this for half an hour. I know it sounds like a long time but it will fly by. I usually do this with the London Writer's Club

5) Stay consistent in your prayers
I have never been so grateful to be Muslim until a pandemic happened were five 5-10 minute prayers throughout the day gave me a foundation of remembering what's important, Alhamdullilah.

But whether you're religious or not, speak whatever it is you're feeling, wanting, deflecting, out. It may seem woo-woo again, but many of us need a wider raison d'être. Also, if you miss a prayer or haven't gotten in touch with your spiritual side for a while, don't for a second feel guilty! There's no time for your ego to be involved if you want to be better for yourself.

PS. be ambitious in what you're putting out into the universe and in your prayers! You literally never know what you'll get back. 
Things That Have Bought Me Comfort Lately
Guest-Author Feature For Social Supermarket

Educating Girls Is Key To Changing The Face Of Climate Change

So Much I Want to Tell You: Letters to My Little Sister by Anna Akana
Wintering by Katherine May

Jealous by Mahalia ft Rico Nasty


Think Twice

Sonder&Tell In Conversation With Pandora Sykes
Hola! I'm Tahmina Begum 👋🏾 I'm a writer, editor and consultant. If you like The Aram, feel free to support my work and buy me a digital Ko-Fi. If you'd like to commission me for any work, feel free to check out my website

Images via @thatschic @c_l_o and @slow_roads

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