As women have been taught to put their needs aside and take care of everyone else around us. We should give untill everyone has their fill and if there is anything left then we should divide that equally and share it out again. This should be repeated with every ounce of strength and life within us until there is nothing left. You can see this mentality every womans/ mothers day when women are lauded for carrying the crap of the entire world.
Hey you basically keep everyone a float here is a day and a card! WE HEART YOU!
It is only when you are making sure others come first will you be a decent woman. Not spectacular, simply decent.
Because that is what women do right? Give everything up for everyone around them?
Contrary to myth women are not endless wells of selflessness, strength, sunshine and smiles. Life gets to us, life happens to us and some days are just bulls**t. Some months are monstrous and some years are just full of crap. All this takes its toll on us, but seldom do we ask ourselves the question ‘why can’t I take time off for me?’
What a lot of women, especially black women, do not realise is that completely sacrificing yourself to take care of those around you helps no one. Eventually you will be utterly and completely spent. So here is a guide with some tips and tricks from some amazing women on how to take care of yourself, for yourself.
We are beginning to really ask questions about black women and self-care, for example this piece by Moiyattu Banya questioning ‘Who cares for the black woman’s body?’
So here are some pointers to pull for a little self-care.
Listen to your body: when it is not happy it will tell you, when it is not healthy it will tell you, if it needs rest it will tell you, when it is sad if will tell you. You just need to stop and listen and not ignore it.
Be honest with yourself and others about where you are: If you are having a rough time of things reach out to those who you care about and care about you. Share fears, times of exhaustion, lows and anything you are struggling with. There is courage in being vulnerable.
Take note of your mental health: People always dismiss issues of mental health as either sadness, laziness, or even in some extreme cases demon possession. However, mental health is a very important thing and yes it does affect women of colour, even if it is seldom spoken about. As women we are not immune to depression, disorders such as bipolar or any other form of mental health issue.
See a therapist if you feel you need to: There is nothing wrong with seeking help and there are some things you cannot take through with your friends. The notion that you are somehow weak or something is seriously wrong with you is not true. The brain, like any other organ, is susceptible to times when it takes a knocking and mental health needs to be taken care of.
Do some form of physical activity: If you are into yoga, pole dancing or even just taking a walk try and get as much exercise as you can. Exercising can be something that calms and relaxes you and the endorphin thing is so real. It also helps to centre your mind and body. And it doesn’t have to be at the gym. Simply Google ‘squat challenge’ or ‘beach body challenge’ and download the image! Free exercises at home. Here is an article of exercises you can be at home. And another one.
Write a journal: There is something very scary but also very exhilarating about seeing your thoughts exist outside in the world. This is along the same lines as having a therapist in a sense, seeing the thoughts out there existing makes them more real and in some ways more manageable. It also helps in ordering your thoughts, charting your ups and downs and also analysing your
Find a random hobby: Try getting something outside of your routine. Sometimes having something that is just for you that
Have Sex or Masturbate: On that note of physical activity this is obviously a great one. Adding on to this making sure that you understand your body is magical and you deserve pleasure can do wonders for self confidence. And the endorphins aren’t mad either. A little love makin’ or a wild doesn’t matter, the feeling of being carnal with something can be a great stress alleviator and also give you a some time outside of your head. NOTE: do not have sex if the act will be triggering, emotionally taxing or harmful to your general well-being in any way.
Masturdate: This is a word meaning taking yourself out on a date. Take yourself out and make yourself feel special, or plan something nice at home where you just make yourself feel incredible.
Curl up with a good book/ movie/ series: Have something that will allow for you to switch your mind off, sometimes you need that moment where you are just not heavily engaging in things. Binge watch/ consume something that allows you that ‘feel good’ relaxation vibe and shut out the world for a little bit. Try and schedule this in. Schedule in days when you just refuse to adult (v).
Travel somewhere different: sometimes getting out of your space means that you can get out of your head. Travelling is something that can be expensive but if it is open to you travelling can really give you time out and give you a new perspective.
Join in discussions and surround yourself with people who are in your lane: If you are a feminist try and find other feminists. If you are a queer African woman then try and find other queer African women. If you are tired of being surrounded by racist slurs and slights find spaces where this will not happen. If you find everyone around you does not understand issues of mental health find people who do. Although educating and engaging with people is important sometimes you need to drown yourself in people who can allow you to live your full existence without explanation. This is very important to rejuvenate.
Sleep: Get some rest, everything looks better in the morning.
Find breathing exercises or meditate: Sometimes it pays to just be still. There are many ways you can take time to simply breath and the best thing is oxygen is free. There are even apps that help with being calm and deep breathing. Here are some apps on meditation, mental health and specifically anxiety.
Learn to unplug from the online space: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat. All the ways to connect and come together. Sometimes the online space can be amazing a place to meet new people and learn new things and have fun. But sometimes it can be a space that seriously messes with your mental and emotional well being. Not only is the level of fomo (Fear Of Missing Out) quite intense at times as people live their best lives but sometimes the intense levels of bullying and toxicity can be overwhelming. Taking care of yourself could be as simply as simply logging off the social media sites and muting the whastapp groups.
For another here is short guide on self-care and giving up and check out this HOLAA! guide on loving yourself and being better.