Photo Credit: @tamarcusbrown
I’m going to ask you a real question and I want you to think of a real answer. How are you? This is not a trick. I am literally asking how you are. I am willing to bet that you thought of Fine as your answer. But are you really? How much time and consideration do you give to yourself and how you are feeling on every level? Physical, Mental, and Emotional.
In America, especially in the Washington DC Metro Area, the home of politics and people who don’t necessarily have time for proper rest, we are constantly on the go. We are constantly considering what we say and to whom. We are constantly on our guard. If you are a person of color, chances are you are even more so on your guard. If you identify as a woman AND are of color, chances are you life has been, in some ways, hijacked by considering what you say, to whom, when, and weighing out the possible consequences. Considering and re-considering, all the time can be EXHAUSTING! Black women especially, are known for being Superwoman; constantly on the go with a whole heap of folks on the list to take care of, with the self being nowhere near the top.
How do you take care of yourself when times are hard and (for a lot of people) have felt hard for awhile? Take it back (but let’s not go too far), if you will. Some people have been upset and disappointed since the November presidential election, holding out small amounts of hope. Out there in the universe, there have been consistent issues, protests, and shenanigans stemming from the current President, then there are things like slavery in Syria, the water in Flint, police brutality, education reform, tax reform, net neutrality, and the recent 1 year anniversary of the Women’s March, which for many still didn’t adequately address PoC. There is a lot going on “out there” and then of course whatever you deal with on a daily basis: anxiety, depression, Sallie Mae, general health, friends and family, office politics, etc. It can be a lot. So, how do you take care of yourself?
I done took you back through the whole fog huh? Feeling a little up tight? Let’s take a deep breath together. Breath so deep and s-l-o-w, think 4 seconds breathing in, its like you want the air to hit your feet. Hold it for 3 seconds, now release that breath S L O W L Y for 6 seconds. Repeat as necessary.
Let’s get into what we are here to talk about: Self Care. It is a buzzword these days, but we are going to consider it anyway. Many people are under the false notion that self-care is that thing you do once a month by either taking a bubble bath or having a massage. While those things are great to do and can be part of your self care routine, they are not the end all, be all in taking care of yourself. Like most things, there are levels to this. We are going to start on Level one for this blog post. The next level will come up another time. For now, though, let’s focus on this level and see if you can help yourself to feel a bit better.
LEVEL 1: Physical Self Care
Self care can be suuuupppper basic, and yet still so hard. For this level of self care, its about making sure you take of your physical body. The body you wear is gonna be your home for a while. This ain’t GET OUT where you get to transfer your brain bits to someone else and use their body like a house. No ma’am. Taking care of your physical self can be as simple as getting enough sleep at night. Making sure that you are eating and snacking throughout the day. Or even staying hydrated. Self care, is not just the grandiose things we have to pay services for, but these small gestures that show we care about ourselves on some level.
Taking care of your basic needs is a great way to start a self care regimen, if you don’t already have one. For those of you who already make sure you get your sleep, eat, and drink; let's take it up a notch. Now that you have taken care of your body, maybe throw in some exercise, and upgraded your food game to include something other than pizza and chicken (of which I have been more than guilty of having day after day for a couple of weeks--HEY NO JUDGEMENT!!).
The easiest way to start is to create a routine. Think about what you do naturally when you wake up in the morning. What are some small changes you can make to ensure you are taking care of yourself physically. For me, it was hard to drag my butt out the bed. I like my sheets, it’s too comfortable. I just didn’t want to get out right away. NOW, I wake up an hour earlier than I need to, take some time to roll in the sheets, check FB, IG, and my email. Read for 20 minutes and then get out to start the other physical portion of my routine. I brush my teeth, make my breakfast, and really set myself to work.
Now, for the evening routine! This is the time to pick a bedtime that helps you get up at your preferred time in the morning. Maybe you need to get to sleep earlier? Again, create a routine that works for you. Make tomorrow's lunch, brush your teeth, take a shower, and be in bed by 11, and lights out shortly thereafter. Find what works for you, try it out, and adjust until it is a streamlined routine.
HOMEWORK: Many of the people who work with me would tell you that I tend to give homework. You are no different. :) Observe the routine you currently engage in and try to make it work for your morning and evening goals. How can you streamline your day to make sure you are eating, drinking, getting enough rest, are clean, etc.? Now that this is all at the forefront of your minds, try to make your day better by meeting those physical needs.
What are your plans to improve your physical self care?