When we started planning this series, I thought it was a great idea. As women of color, the world is hard on us in varying ways and we need to remember to be kind to each other. But more importantly, we have to remember to be kind for ourselves. We have incredible worth, with so much weight on our backs but we cannot do more for others if we cannot at least do for ourselves.
As I thought about writing this list, I asked the question: “What ways do you care for yourself? I mean, really care?”
Many people will say that retail therapy or eating cupcakes is self-care, but both of these, without moderation can become unhealthy behaviors. Shopping too much can lead to debt and hoarding, and avoidance of dealing with your issues. Stress eating can lead to food disorders. I speak as someone who used to shop when angry or sad, finding fulfillment in having new things, the act of ripping off tags satiated me. I’m sure this rivaled my feelings of sadness, anxiety, loss of control and inadequacy from my childhood that was full of second-hand clothes. Obviously, eating to much and overindulging in tasty treats causes weight gain and a host of health issues that go along with it.
It turns out, this list originated as one a lot more personal than I’d intended to be here just yet. But, here we go.
Doing my hair
It takes a lot of energy and time to do my hair. I’ve spent the better part of the last 12 years with my hair loc’d. It takes a few hours to go from washing and conditioning to re-twisting or interlocking and then styling. I always feel better when I take the time to do this but sometimes, I just don’t have the energy. Sometimes, I just put off bothering with my hair at all until I can’t avoid washing it and then just let it air dry. I know that taking the time to do it is a treat to myself, by spending time with myself and investing in my appearance. It’s a good way to give back to myself.
Moisturizing my skin
My skin is dry. More often than not, I don’t bother putting on lotion if the outfit I’m wearing today covers my arms and/or legs. But by taking the time to moisturizer my skin and give special attention and care to the largest organ of my body, I am being kind to myself. I’m also giving myself a nice surprise when I later find how soft and supple my skin feels.
Taking meds and seeing a therapist
This is a big one.
Last year I got into a habit of making daily posts, asking asking my friends if they had had eaten, hydrated and taken their meds. I had found through individual check ins that most of my friends had forgotten to do one or more of these things. The habit reminded me to eat and drink enough water too.
But then people started asking me if I had taken my meds and the answer was no. I haven’t been on medication for anxiety or depression in more than 10 years. I hadn’t felt like I’d needed it… And then I realized that I did. During a job search cycle in the summer and early fall, I had gone on about a dozen interviews, pushed through My anxiety to sell myself as an asset that each perspective employer needed to have on staff. I had gotten to the final round with references being called, only to lose out on actually clenching the job offer. I felt awful.
After a few weeks, I realized that I couldn’t shake the feeling of worry and hopelessness. I decided in December to set aside money via HSA for copays to see a therapist. I went to see my primary care physician and was put on an antidepressant. I started therapy in January and its really been incredible for me. I’ve been able to understand my own behaviors better and also how to deal with undesirable behaviors in others. I learned to be able to say “No” as a complete sentence that does not necessitate an an explanation. I learned to be kind to myself.
Its been important for me to have help unpacking my past and planning my future. I’m grateful for my therapist. I found them on psychologytoday.com. You can find one there too!
I don’t sleep enough. I never have. My mind never wants to shut down so that I can sleep, its always going! When I’m being kind to myself, I try to get to bed at a reasonable time so that I can get at least 8 hours of sleep. I try to nap on the weekends, which is imperative so that my kids and I are all able to recharge during the day.
Eating and drinking well
Like getting enough sleep, eating well and drinking water are good for me and important to overall health. I love a good treat, but I also can appreciate a good salad. When I keept liquid intake restricted to water and hot tea, I feel s lot better. I love the taste and smell of coffee, but I know that the more coffee I drink, the less water I reach for. Simple facts are, my body runs better when I’m kinder to it.
What are ways that you care for yourself? What’s on your self-care chceklist?