Self care is what it sounds like: taking the time to take care of yourself. But it is also much, much more.
Loving yourself, fully and without conditions. Resisting the pressure to say you are not good enough. Stepping back from the relentless pressures and cares of life, and giving yourself a moment (or two or three) to breathe. Disengaging, if only for a little while, from situations that stress you (even if you feel societal pressure to stay engaged in them). Telling yourself you don’t need to be 100% at all times.
This is not laziness or selfishness disguised as indulgence. Instead, it is a a building block of strength. Self care is absolutely necessary if you are to do any good in the world. It is also a political act in itself.
As women, we are not taught to love ourselves adequately. From the subtle socializing we get in school to the ads for our beauty products, we are bombarded with messages of inadequacy. You are not enough as you are. You should put the needs of others before your own. You should be a caretaker figure, radiating benevolence and competence in every direction while taking in nothing for yourself.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with striving to better yourself or looking out for others—these are fundamental parts of moving through the world. But there is a particularly insidious pressure on women, and especially women of color, to let these demands on our time and energy wear away at our own protective armor until we are exposed, dimmed, and exhausted. Whether it’s smiling calmly at our street harassers, or taking on more work for less reward in the workplace/household, these psychological and physical demands will drain us until we are empty.
Let us not forget that we are not all equally armored against these stressors in the first place. The world we live in is not designed to protect vulnerable populations: the poor, people of color, women. And these vectors often overlap.
Here is where self care comes in. Whether this care is physical or mental/emotional, it is an act of resistance against a world that does not expect you to survive well, let alone thrive. Looking out for yourself becomes more important the less the world looks out for you. Audre Lorde said it best:
Taking care of yourself and loving yourself are the radical foundations of any good you are able to accomplish in this world. Whether it’s taking a second to stretch, cooking yourself a good meal, or allowing yourself an hour of that truly trashy-delightful TV show, remember that your self-care is an essential act of revolution.
Reminders // How to Enact Self Care:
1. Exercise. Take a walk in the sun.
2. Say no when you need to—to demands on your time, to stressful and unnecessary people in your life, etc.
3. Eat well—and cook yourself a meal
4. Talk to the people you love
5. Watch TV (especially “guilty pleasure” shows)
6. Journal / draw / think out loud
7. Clean your space / de-clutter
8. Cuddle pets or people :)
9. Remind yourself that you’re doing well
Do you have thoughts on self care? Strategies? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.