Saliha Afridi is a licensed clinical psychologist and the managing director of The LightHouse Arabia – a community mental health clinic. She moved to Dubai in 2008.
I wake up, pray and meditate. This is a quiet time of day when I like to reflect on my inner self; I sit with the calm inside me before the sun rises and the day begins. It’s my holy half an hour and a time of anchoring myself in intention for the day.
I have three kids – one daughter, Liyenna, and two sons, Isa and Ismael. They wake up at this time and we start the routine of getting ready for school, eating breakfast, and doing a brief pep talk about how to move through their school day. I typically drink cinnamon tea and hot lemon water every morning. This is to flush out all toxins and start my day with my body in mind.
I work out on the treadmill and then start getting ready for the day. There was a time when I was forgoing exercise and starting work a lot earlier, but I realised that in order for me to best serve my community, my clients, and my family I needed to take care of myself. It doesn’t take long but it sets my day off with a positive energy.
I leave for work. I am lucky to have a short five-minute commute. My husband and I chose to live close to my clinic to maximise my time with the kids and with my patients.
Typically I see five to seven patients a day for an hour each. Today I see two patients, one of which was a 90-minute session. The types of patients that I see are typically going through difficult life experiences, resulting in depression, anxiety, relationship issues, body image difficulties, work-related stress and the likes.
Today I’m on the Dubai Eye parenting panel. We talked about emotional intelligence and how to raise children that are not just intellectually bright but also emotionally skilled. In my opinion, this is such a hot topic that deserves a lot more attention and discussion.
I return phone calls either from newspaper reporters asking for expert opinions, or clients who have questions about something that has come up. I also handle new queries about psychologists, treatment, or parenting issues from members of the community.
This is when I pray again. The midday prayers are a moment of silence and meditation amid a busy and often chaotic day. They help me to centre my energy and reconnect with my purpose.
Today is early dismissal and after school activities day for my kids, so I spend time with them on the soccer field. I always wanted a career that would allow me flexibility to be part of the day-to-day lives of my children while I fulfilled my individual purpose. Being a psychologist in a private practice affords me this flexibility. After soccer, I return to the clinic and see another patient.
I am home and typically take 15 minutes to be by myself; I pray, recentre myself and become present. Then I go out and play with my children. Today we jumped on our trampoline, which is a perfect way of releasing all the day’s tensions.
Dinnertime with the kids. I like to sit down with the children as much as possible and make sure that we talk and learn about each other during these dinners. The meals are typically planned in advance and consist of healthy vegetables and meats, but there are days when we order in for a change.
We are upstairs reading, writing, or playing – no electronics allowed. I perfume the room with oud or scented candles every evening to create a warm and comforting energy in our space. At 7.30pm it’s lights out for the kids.
I pray and re-centre myself in the evening. This evening I read and prepare for an upcoming seminar that I am conducting titled “How to Communicate with Your Child”. Depending on the day of the week, I may go out with my friends, have a quiet dinner at home with my husband do some professional reading, do some work with journalists or call it an early night. Lights out on most days is by 11.30pm.
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