Self-care refers to regular practices that are meant to maintain and enhance personal physical, emotional, and mental well-being. As a black woman, this idea of self-care is something that I am constantly teaching myself and learning to value. Black women are arguably one of the most marginalized groups of people in our society, so it’s not uncommon for us to compensate for this by overworking, overreaching, overcommitting, and the like. I’d like to challenge the notion that we as black women are only as valuable as our latest project by pushing forth the importance of self-care as a significant part of our life’s experience.
Here are three simple steps that you can follow to jumpstart your self-care journey:
1. Prioritize Your Self-Care
Yes, this first step seems like it should go without saying, but if you’re anything like me then you might need to be reminded of this from time to time.
I think of self-care as essential to my health, as important as brushing my teeth and eating my veggies. Without practicing self-care I am neglecting my mental health and conservation of my well-being, which has the capacity to affect other areas of my life. And as someone living with depression, neglecting my mental health can cause my complete being to down spiral rapidly and dangerously. Self-care is pretty darn important.
It might be of use to you to schedule self-care time, as you would anything else that is important to you. For example, I know that I have a date with my yoga leggings and beginner yoga YouTube video every Saturday morning at 10. I also have my bible study group at 7pm on Wednesdays and I’m cheating myself out of essential mid-week inspiration if I skip it. I know that I could fill in these times with work or even sleep, but if I want to learn to value my well-being, then I must challenge myself to stay accountable.
2. Choose a Hobby
It’s important to have something for yourself that you can retreat to. Like I said, coloring is one of my favorite hobbies. I love that I can take my low moods, which are dark and looming, and turn them into something vibrant and prolific. It’s possible to have that sort of reframing around any hobby of your choosing. (Need more help choosing a hobby?)
Don’t be afraid to take that step out of your comfort zone (especially if your current self-care routine isn’t working for you) and choose a hobby that will take some practicing! Self-care is as much a journey as it is essential to your well-being, and as with any journey there will be new leafs to turn. And you can handle it.
3. Be Kind To Yourself
Being kind to yourself means giving yourself special consideration, listening to your body’s needs and wants, and being gentle with yourself. This may manifest itself in turning down an invite to join a new organization, or taking the first half of your Saturday to sleep in and watch Netflix instead of working on a project. You’re kind to yourself when you offer yourself the same grace that you would a loved one. You’re kind to yourself when you speak your needs. We’re only given one body, one mind, and one spirit. It’s our responsibility to not yank them around carelessly, but to love them with might and intention.
Remember that self-care is a journey that you have the rest of your life to work on, so there’s no rush! You will have to practice this, but remember to be patient with yourself as you learn. And let these steps function only as a guide, because your self-care journey is unique to you. This is just the start!
National Suicide Prevention Week is September 7 - 13, 2015. For more information, visit https://www.afsp.org/news-events/in-the-news/national-suicide-prevention-week
How do you practice self care? What are your favorite ways to take time for yourself?
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”- Audre Lorde