A “self care checklist” looks different for each of us. This is because women of color, depending on how her identities intersect, face unique challenges in the world.
Sikivu Hutchinson, author and educator, tells us, “Black women experience intimate partner and domestic violence at a rate of 35% higher than do white women.” The mental, emotional, physical, and economic violence black and non-black women/femmes of color face puts us in a state of constant stress.
It’s true that self care looks different under different circumstances but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about what it looks like for us and invite conversations about what it looks like for others. There is wisdom to be passed around between us.
My life is filled with chaos and there’s a distinct pressure that comes with having a big, beautifully, blended family like mine. I’m a mom of six, including three teens, two gradeschoolers, and a toddler. My husband, a devoted and present partner, is a disabled veteran. I have an incredible number of critically important “balls” in the air, constantly.
Plus I’m facing economic challenges unique to me as a Boricua woman who is being paid 58% less than white men and 20% less than white women in my field. Being head of household, a caregiver, a mom, while trying to find economic security in a world that devalues me because I’m brown makes things complicated.
Self care for me look as simplistic as remembering to stay hydrated while keeping all my proverbial balls in the air. It’s tricky, my kidney stones flare up when I can’t remember to stay hydrated. When this happens, I have to drop every single ball while recuperating.
I often fail at self care miserable. Daily. It is so much harder than it looks. It’s not the same as taking a nap or going to the salon, although both can be very beneficial. It is a practice and a discipline. It is every so hard to respect it because, it is hard to love and care for myself in a world that does little to show me love.
The truth is, self care is Love. It is love of self, obviously but, it is also love of people in my life loving me, and my place in this world. #selfcareisLove and we should engage in it often as possible for the greater good.
This post here is my checklist. Asia will no doubt be drafting her own version of this checklist, we will compare and contrast notes and turn over the differences between us and examine how we can love ourselves better. At the end of the day, what matters most is that we love ourselves, any way we can, in every way possible. If we don’t, who will?
Keeping hydrated is as easy* as pouring yourself a glass of water from the tap but, I swear to you, some days that feels like too much. I get it. Imagine eating? Which is way more complicated because cooking for yourself is labor intensive. Even toast feels like too much, if you are exhausted after caring for seven other people. When you love to cook this makes sense as self care but, if you don’t, get clever. Keep bananas, apples, granola bars, ready made salad, and other easy, compact but healthy food on hand so you don’t have to be cooking to be eating right.
Take a shower
This feels like a no-brainer for “regular” people. In actuality, when you’ve neither the energy or care to shower, doing so anyway is an act of self care. This is because by the end of my day I have literally done, felt, thought, so many things, been so many places, a shower feels like climbing Mount Everest after a 5K run. I try my hardest to start my day with a shower, as opposed to ending it with one. When I do, I take my damn time. I don’t care who is knocking at my door, I’m going to exfoliate. I will enjoy a few minutes in the one place on this planet where I can actually block out the demands of the world.
Disengage from stress
Whether it’s blocking a toxic person from your life or your Facebook inbox, avoiding rush hour traffic, or turning your phone off, disengage from stress immediately. It took me a long time to be able to call out my stress triggers. Even longer to be able to then put up a boundary to protect myself from them. I didn’t feel like I was allowed. However, boundaries as a means of self care is critical to my peace of mind. I need to shut off the noise, collect my thoughts, and find a path. Whether the path be to the market to get groceries, the shower, or the kitchen to get a bite to eat. It only matters I put some space between me and what stresses me.
Do something enjoyable
Listen to your favorite song and dance like no one is watching. Reach out to your best friend for a chat. Binge watch your favorites on Netflix, read a book, take a walk, hit the gym, buy yourself something cute, whatever it is, do it. It only has to be something that will put a smile on your face. You deserve simple pleasures, they help us get through the day. It can be something as extravagant as an entire makeover or as simple as having a cup of coffee, alone, while you peruse Facebook and talk shit with your friends!
Do something good for you
Sometimes good for you doesn’t necessarily mean enjoyable. It is still important to do at least one thing that will be good for you per day. Eat a piece of fruit or take a walk. Make that appointment for the dentist you’ve been putting off. Call your therapist. Take your meds. Anything you need to do for your personal health and well being, counts as putting yourself on the list.
Check your melanin, make sure it’s still poppin’
Above all else, be kind, gentle, and loving with yourself. Take a look in the mirror and say something positive about yourself. Give yourself a wink and a smile because you matter! We love you!
*recognizing not everyone has access to clean, running water and so getting some is neither “easy” or simple.
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