July 24th 2023

Embracing Self-Care: A Testimony from Afghanistan

As we celebrate Self-Care Day, we reflect on the significance of nurturing ourselves and the challenges faced by individuals in different parts of the world, through the stories from our colleagues in Afghanistan.

In a world that often demands our constant attention and energy, taking care of ourselves can easily fall by the wayside. However, self-care is not only essential for our physical wellbeing but also for our emotional and psychological needs.


Abdul Shakoor, HNTPO Programme Director in Eastern Afghanistan, shares his insights on self-care and sheds light on the importance of integrating it into our lives.

"Even simple practices like enjoying a healthy meal, engaging in exercise, going for a walk, having a cup of tea or taking a bath can significantly improve one's mood and wellbeing "

- Abdul Shakoor, HNTPO Programme Director

Practicing self-care with Abdul Shakoor

Abdul Shakoor understands first-hand the prevailing stigma associated with self-care in his home country. In Afghanistan, self-care is often stigmatised due to internalised shame surrounding mental illnesses. However, Abdul emphasises that self-care is not just about physical and nutritional health but also about addressing our emotional and spiritual needs.

“Even simple practices like enjoying a healthy meal, engaging in exercise, going for a walk, having a cup of tea or taking a bath can significantly improve one's mood and wellbeing” says Abdul. Despite his busy work schedule, he makes it a priority to incorporate self-care into his life. "Whether it's through acts of self-kindness, indulging in a soothing bath, or ordering a delivery to alleviate stress, I understands the value of taking time for myself."

Abdul recognises that self-care plays a vital role in managing stress and anxiety effectively, reducing the risk of burnout and other mental health concerns and improving the work environment. However, he acknowledges the challenges that hinder the adoption of healthy self-care routines. “Lack of time to dedicated to oneself, unrealistic expectations set by authorities and interruptions in routine office work can all impact how or if I can practice self-care”.

Incorporating self-care into programmes

Abdul firmly believes that self-care must be an integral component of all health and humanitarian projects. Self-care should be used to improve health and mental health, and to support humanitarian workers, incorporating psychosocial therapies, the judicious use of medication and health-promoting lifestyle changes. Such an approach would benefit numerous projects and contribute to the overall wellbeing of individuals by managing stress, preventing illness and increasing energy levels.

Abdul suggests that self-care should be recommended to all HNTPO staff members in training facilities, as it can have a profound impact on their overall wellbeing and productivity.

Let us take this opportunity to advocate for a cultural shift, both in Afghanistan and globally, where self-care is valued and embraced. By prioritising our own wellbeing, we empower ourselves to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives. Together, we can create a world that recognises and supports the significance of self-care for all individuals.