When Audre Lorde, an African-American writer, feminist and civil rights activist, wrote about self-care back in 1988, it was not about buying candles, bath bombs or new herbal teas to self-indulge in. Instead, she believed that mindful self-care is a way of fighting back against unfair systems. In other words, when society treats certain groups unfairly, taking care of yourself becomes a form of protest. It’s like saying, “I won’t let these injustices bring me down.”
Audre’s quote really resonates with me. In a world that actively seeks to marginalize and oppress, self-care can be a difficult chore to do, but it is necessary for our survival. It doesn’t help that self-care is often linked to items such as skincare or any other form of consumerism approaches when it should be about nourishing our physical, emotional, and mental well-being through meaningful practices.
So, forget about the expensive spa treatments or retail therapy hauls that are often glamourised on YouTube vlogs! Here are three ways we can practise mindful self-care.
1. Listen to your body.
Be it saying ‘no’ to set boundaries or taking breaks when life becomes too overwhelming, listen to what your body says.
When we listen to our bodies, we are able to understand ourselves better and address our physical, emotional and mental needs. This allows us to make informed decisions on what’s better for us and our body.
2. Do you, be YOU.
In a society that constantly pigeonholes women’s lived realities, we need to take control and ownership of what works best for our lives, even if it means doing things that people constantly deny your right to. Our bodies are ours and only we have the agency to define and prioritize what is best for our health, happiness and empowerment.
So defy those unrealistic beauty expectations set on you. Challenge stereotypes and gender roles. Because women can have short hair, be in leadership positions and men can wear pastel colours. What is important is that you are doing YOU!
3. You are human, and humans have needs.
And these needs deserve to be met regardless of what the world tells us! Sometimes, this involves nurturing our mental well-being. Opening up to someone we trust with our worries and frustrations can provide relief and strengthen the bonds of support in our life. After all, everyone needs a safe and validating space to express their emotions.
It’s important to remember that seeking professional help is a valid form of self-care. Our mental health is as important as our physical health and seeking help when necessary is a courageous act. Here are a few helplines and resources available if you are in need of support.
And remember, self-care is not a selfish act! It’s about sustaining our energy, well-being, and, as Audre Lorde would say, our solidarity as we continue our work of dismantling oppressive systems.
So take a breather and do what’s best for you. We are in this together!