A Black Woman's Guide to Self-Care
I really need to take better care of myself. You probably do too.
With all that is going on in the world, it should be a no-brainer why self-care is more important now than ever. I didn't realize how much a toll all of the world's injustices, fear, losses, etc. played on my psyche until a plane ride where I watched Ava Duvernay's 13th documentary. I saw my ancestors hanging from trees, I saw them being pushed and shoved, being hosed down by water hoses, being killed, being criminalized in an institution that is built to hold black people in a way similar to that of slavery. 13th was about a loophole in the 13th amendment that went through the evolution of the criminalization of black people in an effort to keep us less than human - we couldn't be slaves anymore, but we could be prisoners, and the worst part is, it's completely legal. The fact that it works is painful. That fact that I saw so many people slain by police brutality flash before my face had me bawling with a pain I can't quite articulate. I saw hundreds of years flash before my eyes, and then I thought about today.
I thought about all of the news stories that have been going on about Trump and the many executive orders he's been signing left and right, the divisive world he is already spearheading, and the fact that people of color are always the ones made to suffer in the end. It's inhumane, it's divisive, it's immoral, and it's wrong. I'm not trying to get into politics, because the nature of it is also divisive since it's always one side against another side, without much room for shades of gray. It's either red or blue, left or right, liberal or conservative. And usually the people who benefit from the system willfully remain deaf, blind, and naive to empathisizing with the plights of those they don't understand. They don't want to hear your shit. Just look at the way leaders are putting into place anti-protest bills.
This past year has been stressful. A lot of people out there have it a lot worse than "stressful". Their lives are so deeply rooted in decisions made for them by people who don't give a damn that their future looks bleak and the present is a very scary place. My present is scary for other reasons. Either way, the need to practice self-care, the need to support and honor your mental health is becoming more and more vital to endure the troubles and the BS of everyday life. With technology, everything is so accessible now, especially negativity.
When you don't create the time to strike a balance by making the effort to foster self-care, you are allowing negativity to take a toll not only on your mental health, but on your spiritual health as well. All of it is interconnected and all of it must be aligned in order to be what you need you to be.
It won't always be perfect, but it'll always be worth it.
Here are 5 ways I practice self-care and give myself some much-needed TLC:
Reflect + Disconnect
Reflection is important. The only way to truly do that is by disconnecting and in a world where everything and everyone is so interconnected, disconnecting is so necessary. I repeat, so necessary. My beau and I say this all the time, we can't do anything for others, if we don't do things for ourselves in our own gardens first. Take time away from social, take time away from your phone, take time away from people, and spend time alone. I enjoy carving out that space and time for myself because I can do whatever I want with me and take my time doing it. In those quiet moments, I meditate, I do yoga, I exercise, I read, I journal, or I write - as long as I do something that allows me to disconnect with the world, reflect and connect with myself, I'm good.
It's a chore for most naturals, even for me sometimes, because there are typically a lot of steps that are involved when we take the time to wash our hair. It can sometimes feel like a full day's event. However, I've learned to love it and embrace this time of the week because I am able to pamper myself and revitalize my strands. I feel clean, refreshed, and renewed afterwards, and it's all because I took the time to pre-poo, shampoo, condition, deep condition, leave-in condition, oil, and style my hair. See what I mean?
Pamper Yo' Self
Truth be told, daily I am more of a shower girl. But on my self-care days (which usually land on Sundays), I like to really take my time (see Wash Day above), and that goes double for my hygiene routine as well. I like to pamper myself by taking a nice hot bath with my tresses wrapped up in a towel, some candles lit with soft music playing in the background, and a nice bath bomb making an appearance to add to the ambience.
I'm no stranger to this concept, but it's definitely not a coincidence that self-care days typically land on Sundays for me. It's an excuse to take myself or a friend or my beau out to brunch. I tend to eat mindfully, but there's an extra layer on Sundays. This is also a practice that transfers over to any day where I need a bit of a pick-me-up. Food is not just sustenance, it's for the soul, so when I'm having a particularly soul-sucking day, I will have something good, meaning I don't have to cook it. Sometimes that looks healthy, sometimes (usually), it's a big fat juicy burger with fries and a Coke on the side. Likewise, drinking our calories is also an option.
Girl, Put Your Records On
Music does something for me and I'm sure a lot of people can relate to the healing properties that music contains. I like bringing out my record collection and listening to vinyl. Although a record player isn't necessary for me to listen to music, the act of it all sort of elevates the experience and takes relaxation to a whole 'nother level for me. When it's not vinyl, some sounds that have gotten me through difficult times include Solange's A Seat At The Table, Beyonce's Lemonade, and anything by Paramore. With those women in constant rotation, I have all the tools to survive in life.
How do you practice self-care? Let's share and trade secrets in the comments below!