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2020, a year of unprecedented and uncharted territory. At the beginning of the new year, we ushered in a new decade and celebrated what we hoped to be a fresh start. We didn’t know what it would entail, but as the year has unfolded, many of us have found ourselves feeling unraveled and undone.

If you are reading this article, at minimum you have endured a pandemic, racial tensions, and a tumultuous presidential election. Black people specifically have felt the weight of intergenerational inequity, inequality, and racism;a weight too burdensome to carry, and at times, unbearable to endure. For this reason, I want to take a moment to pause and celebrate your resiliency. Whether you are hanging on by a thread or by a climbing rope, you are still holding on, and that is worthy of commemoration.

This year has managed to keep all of us on the edge of our seats, and this may be our posture for the months to come. Consequently, I will spend time talking about a practice you can engage in to preserve, protect, and improve your well-being.

Self-Care Defined

Self-care is an intentional activity done with the purpose of caring for your overall health. It is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, improve self-awareness and self-esteem, and fosters rest and relaxation. The concept of self-care is easy in theory, but can be difficult in practice.

If you are a single mom finding time to invest and care for yourself, self-care may feel seemingly impossible. You may be a college student working two jobs to stay a float. No matter your circumstance, finding time to care for yourself is not an easy task. Do you feel guilty for stepping away from your responsibilities to care for yourself? Have you internalized sayings like, “I’ll rest when I’m dead,” and, “If it don’t make dollars then it don’t make sense?” These sayings have permeated our culture and have led to relaxation and rest being disregarded and undervalued.

What It’s Not

Caring for yourself is not a selfish act, but an act of care and restoration. Equating self-care to selfishness is like not viewing an oil change as an act of maintenance. Self-care is also not an obligation, but an opportunity that you get to engage in freely.

Liberation

Self-Care is limitless, adaptable, and flexible; it’s also no respecter of persons. Caring for yourself is similar to putty, molding to the direction of your individual needs. You can spend 10-15 minutes a day engaging in self-care or you can incorporate an hour or more of self-care into your weekly schedule.

Here are a few ways you can practice self-care:

Physically

  • Make sure you aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. 
  • Stretching is a great way to relieve tension and give attention to areas that could use some love. 
  • Having a balanced diet can ensure that your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to properly function.

Mentally

  • Taking a social media fast is a great way to take a step back from society, disconnect from those you follow, regroup, and give your mind a break.
  • DIY Projects are tons of fun, provoke creativity, and are a great sense of accomplishment once completed.
  • Decompress, improve your mental speed, and strengthen your short-term memory as you put together a puzzle of your liking.

Work

  • It’s important to have good time management skills when it comes to work – this way, you don’t over work yourself and contribute to burnout.
  • Breaks are great opportunities to grab a snack, take a breather, and revive your energy.

Spiritually

  • Meditation and prayer are helpful tools to utilize to care for yourself by reaching out to God.
  • Exploring and resting in Nature can help you relax simply by providing fresh air, or greater connection to it.

Emotionally

  • Of course therapy is a great self-care tool! Talking to someone about your feelings, emotions, thoughts, goals, etc., can be a very freeing experience.
  • Journaling is a great way to let out your emotions in a positive, healthy manner.

Financially

  • Budgeting can bring peace of mind and help you relax because you know your money has a plan.
  • It’s always good to have a savings plan for that rainy day. 

Personal

  • Having a few hobbies enjoy and doing something you love you is a great way to take care of yourself.
  • Create goals and then take the necessary steps you need to reach those goals.
  • Fun Activities, new or old are nice ways to care for yourself and are stimulating for the mind and body.

Social

  • Expressing your needs is vital to caring for yourself. Though it can be hard, it is important and necessary.
  • Engage with life-giving relationships and avoid relationships that deplete you.
  • Communication is key in every relationship; be sure to keep that line open. 
  • Setting boundaries protects you from being taken advantage of and allows you to honor and care for yourself.

Let’s start today. Select one or more of the following activities to begin prioritizing your health and overall well-being.

If you are reading this article and want to begin engaging in self-care by exploring therapy, we would love to connect with you and support you on your journey. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.

Written by therapist Treshana Lewis

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