Hello, my lovelies! I wanted to take some time to discuss the practice of self-care, especially during a global pandemic. Many of us have had our movements restricted, but have also had to adjust to new ways of defending ourselves against a harm we cannot see. All of these changes and responsibilities have come about very quickly, out of necessity. Because of these we've had additional stress added to our lives, especially for everyday activities to which we would not give a second thought (e.g. walking by a runner, doing the weekly shop; visiting friends and family). The mindless things have had to become mindful , and that requires our brains to process and reconfigure our lives. Many of us, including myself, have underestimated the mental toll living through a pandemic has caused. It took me two weeks to fully process what was happening and what it all meant. In some cases, this crisis has compromised some of our usual outlets for dealing with stress and taking care of ourselves.
So, let's talk about what it means to care for ourselves, and what it does not mean. Please understand that this is not a diagnosis, but me working through my understandings of self-care. These are not meant to be definitive or judgmental. In fact, at the end I'd love for you to chime in and tell me your favourite forms of self-care, even if you are still struggling to regularly address your own needs. Let's start with what it is not (shout-out to binary opposition):
Self care ain't...
This is a tricky one because some of us like to get our hair, nails or feet done by a professional. Those things have been denied to us for months now. Whilst that is not my personal ministry, I know many of you see this as time you are taking for yourself. I don't consider this 'routine maintenance'. I'm talking about taking a shower, getting some sleep, eating, or clipping your toenails. You know, things you need to do anyway. But what about wash days? For me, my wash days represent self-care to me. But this is only because I approach as a block of time in which I force myself to slow down and be deliberate about cleansing, deep conditioning and styling. I'll even listen to uplifting or humorous content whilst I do it. In that way, it's not a chore, and spiritually, it's more than routine.
As a brand owner who sells stuff (including a Self Care Indulgence Kit), this might seem counterproductive for me to say. Of course I'm not including things we buy that can become part of caring for our needs. I'm referring to the simple act of buying things for the purpose of making us happy, or what's known as 'retail therapy'. That feeling is so fleeting. There are so many amazing products out there, and we simply cannot buy them all. Sometimes out attempts at buying things may just be a way of deflecting from emotional pain. I'll give you an anecdote from my grandmother years ago. I went home to visit her and I kept noticing packages arriving nearly every day. My grandmother used to work at night, as a home health aide. When I pressed her on this, she told me that she was lonely and coming home to packages gave her something to look forward to.
That was so real. The point here is that the product itself may not be the answer to your emotional needs, even if it temporarily fills a void.
Selfish or destructive behaviour disguised as 'care'
This is a tough one because many people are using this crisis to make sweeping judgments about the 'usefulness' of longtime friends, connections, and family. Ditching things that don't serve us shouldn't mean we abandon relationships without considering the other person. A person is not a thing, and neither is a relationship--romantic or not. Unless there is abuse involved, re-consider if ghosting someone is really the solution and whether the consequences outweigh the fall-out.
Self care is...
Loving on yourself
No matter what your relationship status, everybody and every body needs love. Sometimes that may mean having a little 'hey, girl' moment in the mirror, or patting yourself on the back for the things you did well, instead of chastising yourself for the things that still need work. You are not your worst mistake. Everything I'm saying here is not coming from a high perch, it's coming from a woman who constantly has to reinforce these things. Love is a verb, which means caring for yourself is a practice, not a state of being.
Acknowledging that you are a person with needs and limitations
l love ambition just as much as the next type A girl, but not to my detriment. I recently listened to a cross-over episode of two of my favourite podcasts, Therapy for Black Girls and Gettin' Grown, in which Dr. Joy Bradford emphasized that no one is looking for you to spin excellence during a pandemic. Try to avoid the toxic notion that who you are is equivalent to what you produce. Believe me, on days when I can't complete my ludicrous to-do lists, I have to repeat this to myself many, many times and deep breathe my way out of guilty feelings. Living in a highly capitalist society can make us feel dehumanized already, don't contribute more to this by feeling like you are a robot, and that you have to "earn" sleep or any form of rest. Girl, that's just the bare minimum! You cannot pour from an empty cup. Fill up, first.
Finding satisfaction or peace in something
Last Saturday, my partner locked me out of the BBN studio after a very hard week with little sleep. I considered it an act of love, and a nudge for me to 'be kind to Kadian', which is what she likes to remind me. I spent the day cooking (it relaxes me when I don't have to do it), and working on my sourdough bread skills. I cannot tell you the level of satisfaction I felt when I pulled that beautiful loaf out of the oven.
It was my third time trying, and I had finally gotten it right. Ya girl was mad proud (I'm not even from NYC lol what am I doing)!!! The point I'm making is that I found satisfaction in what I was doing. It also made me feel great to accomplish something that was just about me. Your satisfaction may come from allowing yourself to stay in bed all day re-watching the Chewing Gum series, reading a book or taking a nap during the day. It could be anything that brings you peace or satisfaction. Those things renew your spirit and fill up an empty cup.
Tell me, what have you done for self-care lately? Even if you are struggling. Do you agree or disagree with this list?