Look, I have nothing against stretching and granola – in fact, I was at my most physically fit when I had the opportunity to take a weekly yoga class, and have always preferred the dull side of the cereal aisle.
What I can’t stand is how this (white) culture of self care that requires expensive-ass gym memberships, eating cardboard-flavored food, and sitting still for 3 hours thinking about nothing is pushed as the end-all-be-all of how to stay healthy and whole.
As an undocumented woman who, at 29, JUST got bumped up to a living wage that’s mostly gonna go to paying off debt accrued when I wasn’t making enough, I can’t afford the time or money to go on long retreats by myself. My only moment of bliss some days is stealing a chocolate from my colleague’s desk, and frankly, I’m a functioning workaholic who needs to stay busy. So stop shaming me for working hard!!! Or eating in front of the TV!!! Or writing Tempest articles instead of going to therapy!!!
This is a big issue in the White Feminist vs. Intersectional Feminist personal-political sphere because marginalized women, and particularly immigrants and women of color, often don’t have the time and resources to “indulge” in everyday health care, much less self-love. Sometimes, we’re even seen as selfish, lazy, and lying if we take a day off to pamper ourselves. And even when we’re part of a culture that prioritizes self care, our internalized shame kicks in and we beat ourselves up over taking some me time.
Let’s all promise we’ll take Audre Lorde’s words to heart: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
I reached out to The Tempest’s incredible Snapchat (@wearethetempest) followers during my takeover this week and asked what their revolutionary acts of self love look like. Here’s some of the wisdom passed down:
1. Spend some quality time with yourself.
“Self care, for me, is an ongoing self-love project. Learning to love myself requires that I learn about myself. So whether it be going on a quiet walk around the lake at sunset or visiting museums alone or visiting mosques mid-day when it’s empty and self-reflecting in God’s house, I think self care is self love. The more time I spend with myself, learning about myself, the more I learn to appreciate who I am and want to be confident and proud and happy.” -Sarah Z.
When Sarah told me she’s 19, my jaw dropped – you don’t know how much pain and anguish I would have circumvented had I been as wise as this woman 10 years ago! Being alone with yourself might sound scary, but it can be a powerful way to build confidence.Self care, for me, is an ongoing self-love project. -Sarah Z. Click To Tweet
2. Have a spiritual practice.
“[I self care by] writing down my prayers and listening to music while cleaning.” -Maya W.
Many people of faith use worship and ritual as a form of self care – but you don’t have to be religious to pray or meditate or even find inspiration from religious texts and leaders! I love that Maya writes down her prayers… you think I could get away with Tweeting them?
3. Binge watch Law and Order: SVU.
“My self-care routine: Sleeping with my cats, painting my nails, and watching Law and Order: SVU.” -Laila A.
Speaking of religion, what is it about this show that’s so damn comforting? Is it the satisfying, formulaic story arch of every episode? Is it the hope that there’s a real Detective Olivia Benson out there who’s gonna be on our team if something bad happens? Why am I obsessed???What is it about Law and Order SVU that's just so damn comforting? Click To Tweet
4. Revel in your race and culture.
“I work with mostly white colleagues, so self care means coming home, and indulging in my brownness: Honey Singh songs, terrible Netflix Bollywood movies, and reading up on current events that I would otherwise never hear about at work or mainstream.” -Dhipinder W.
Embracing and participating in art, traditions, and even politics rooted in your identity, especially if you have to assimilate in your day-to-day, is critical to staying healthy and whole. Take it from someone who’s still struggling in that in-between space.Self care means coming home, and indulging in my brownness. -Dhipinder W. Click To Tweet
5. Unplug and escape.
“My self-care routine depends A LOT on where I’m at and what’s going on with the world. It usually involves a lot of being outdoors, without a phone or technology or anything. I’ll usually go out for a run somewhere different or bike for miles until I find some peace. Then I’ll come back home, listen to my favorite songs (especially by my favorite artist, Kehlani) and journal. I also try and pray a lot, and like REALLY connect with God. It also helps if I look at pieces of art or watch travel videos because the world is so gorgeous!” -Ameera K.
I used to go on solo bike rides around the city at night when I lived in Utah, and it’s what kept me sane through some tough times. The endorphins certainly helped, but there’s just something about seeing the stars, and mountains, and even tall buildings that brings life into perspective.
6. Talk to friends and drink cucumber water.
“I spend time alone, write how I feel on paper just for myself to look at year’s later, and some days I want to talk to a best friend to lift all my built-up feelings off my chest since I feel great after. However, being alone with my thoughts, whether it’s talking to myself about a serious issue or making myself laugh with something silly, really helps me ‘remember be happy.’ Plus, putting cucumbers in cold water is nice.” -Lalissie E.
I’m terrified of therapy, so you better believe I have a few shoulders to cry on when I need ‘em. This can get problematic, though, so make sure you’re not dumping on the same friend over and over, and that you return the love – with some fresh cucumber water handy, of course.Putting cucumbers in cold water is nice. -Lalissie E. Click To Tweet
7. Exercise your brain.
“My self care: crocheting or sewing, looking at tutorials and ideas, reading at night.” -Sumayya S.
Sumayya self-identified herself as a mom, wife, student, and Muslim – and I thought I was busy! We absolutely need to take time to learn and practice our hobbies, especially when our roles as women often mean we’re overseeing our family’s development. We wouldn’t neglect them, so why would we neglect ourselves?
8. Make the most out of the little things each day.
“Self care to me is the little things I can do on a daily basis: The application of a mask on my face at night, praying to God for anything that I may want, or even cooking myself something I’m craving… watching a new episode when it comes out, applying lotion before going to bed… even texting/speaking with someone you deeply care for, going out to lunch once a week with a friend, writing in one’s journal, or thinking about one’s blessings. So much can fall under self care. It’s how we perceive our everyday acts. If we have the mindset that they’re forms of self care, we could take our time and live in the moment while doing them.” -Wafaa A.
THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS.It’s how we perceive our everyday acts. -Wafaa A. Click To Tweet
9. Actually deal with the issue (and yes, walking away is an action).
“I guess the way I see it is that as often as you practice self care, it will only work if the other areas of your life are healthy too. I know those things like exercise and eating healthy help you ‘cope,’ but it’s like a mask. Like a bandaid that soaks up the hurt, but the wound reopens every time you go near it. Toxic situations are so dangerous. People can manipulate us out of their own fears, and most of the time we don’t recognise it until it’s too late. (By too late I mean, until we’re an emotional fucking wreck that has been stuck on a backwards roller coaster for one too many rides).
My self care includes knowing when to walk away. It can be hard to stand up for yourself, but whatever the situation… work, your relationship or even a friendship, if that situation feels toxic in any way, remember that it’s okay to walk away. While yoga and mindfulness might help you handle those situations, sometimes removing yourself completely from them is the only solution. Carrying your problems to a new, safe space whether physically or mentally, where you can work through them in a way that works for you. Then you can meditate, eat a whole pizza, do some gardening or take a nap… and face what comes next as your whole self. But through it all, don’t forget to breathe.” -Karamea P.
Hit the road, Jackie.My self care includes knowing when to walk away. -Karamea P. Click To Tweet
10. Do good.
Did you know that self care is also a community action? I work a social justice job, but that connection wasn’t really made until my undocumented community at the Dream Resource Center organized a webinar this week to talk about it. You see, there’s a bigger reason why we’ve gotta take care of ourselves – and why self care needs to be intersectional: We need to be strong so we can do the work to heal our communities from systemic trauma.
Whether you’re marching in the streets, sitting behind a desk amplifying the movement, writing a Tempest article to connect to others through your story, being a revolutionary momma, or whatever your community work looks like – you need to prioritize your health so you can be there for your people, because at the end of the day, if they’re not liberated, you’re not liberated.
This one’s from me 😉