Self-care is a term most folks have heard but rarely do we delve into the gender, race, and socioeconomic aspects that have been the foundation of this concept. Self-Care is a radical act of protection of ourselves and our emotional, physical, and community resources. July is BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color) Mental Health Month and July 24th is International Self Care Day which is recognized by the World Health Organization as critical to overall health. To discuss both of these I reach for the words of members of the BIPOC community. In the words of self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” Audre Lorde self care is “…self preservation and that is an act of political warfare”.
Self care is a broad term for any activity that can be used to calm, heal, or increase resilience in face of challenge or struggle. So this is by no means a fluffy blog on how to add some ‘me time’ to your week. This is an encouragement that it is the right of every human to be able to care about themselves and feel validated when engaging in self care. I often tell parents, clients, and friends “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. What I mean by that is if you don’t have anything left you can’t share with someone else. You are a better friend, parent, or partner when you have a full cup.
Adrian of the Navajo Nation states “As an Indigenous woman, I find that one of the ways I can de-stress and show myself love and care is to reconnect with Mother Earth, Shimá Nahasdzáán”. Culture has an impact on how we engage in self care and the importance we put on caring for ourselves. Self-care is intentional, practical, restorative, and individual so what might work for me might not work for you. I have added a few basic suggestions but encourage you to find your own radical act of taking time to take care of yourself in the ways you know you need.
Put yourself on the list
This is one of my big suggestions for parents I see in counseling. Your kids and family may be at the top of the list but you deserve to be on the list too. Making time for your own needs such as sleep, food, and enjoyment help you and help your kids.
No is a full and complete sentence
No. Learn to love this sentence and use it often. It’s okay to set boundaries and say no to be protective of your time and energy.
Find the joy
For me joy fills up my cup and I feel more able to support the folks in my life. Self care does not have to be large grand gestures. I can be having tea outside before work, watching a cheesy 80s movie that makes you laugh, or hugging an animal (three of my favorite small self care practices I incorporate as often as I can). Self care can be 30 seconds or an hour. It’s a matter of practice and continuing the practice intentionally in our lives.
I hope you are inspired to find your own self care practices and engage in the radical act of caring for yourself. You matter!