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"How you gonna win if you ain't right within?" -Lauryn Hill
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”—Audre Lorde
I’m pretty sure we can admit; black girls are the reigning queens at getting the job(s) done, hands down. We’re the nurturers day to day and we’re living busy lives, whether it be attending school, grinding at work, or taking care of others. We do these things to the best of our abilities all while dealing with life’s every day struggles, and of course societal oppression. Such women are goddesses, and quite frankly, deserve the world if you ask me. But it can seem like a daily and constant cycle of wake up, grind, take care of loved ones, sleep, repeat.
As black women, our self-care is vital. Naturally, our two sides, the nurturer in us (the gentle side that doesn’t want to let our friends and family down) and the boss in us (the fierce, get-sh*t-done-and-prevail-over-any-and-all-hurdles-towards-my-success) can prevent us from taking care of ourselves, if there isn’t a healthy balance. Where is our “middle”? I’ve talked to plenty of women who unfortunately believe that they must sacrifice their happiness in order to look out for their families, jobs, and/or education.
Now, don’t get me wrong, many fail to see that working hard is an amazing form of self love. What better way to say, “I love me”, than to put my all into getting what I deserve in the long run? However, we all know that too much of something isn’t a good thing. In fact, I am able to work hard in a more proficient manner by taking care of and loving myself. I feel like many of us fail to see that rejuvenation periods are actually major keys to success. Like Audre Lorde says, self love and care are acts of preserving who you are as an individual. Think of it as preserving your magic, like putting your skills, talents, nurturing and hardworking abilities on a charger. Just like your phone that needs charging and your car that needs fueling,
So. Do. You.
If I help myself first, I find that I actually have more energy to give into helping others and doing what I have to do, and I can do my tasks enthusiastically! We need to remember that our needs are just as important as anyone else’s. Many of us were raised to live by, “put others first” as our primary motto. There is nothing wrong with sacrifice and it is indeed necessary from time to time, but it should not involve giving up your sanity and/or happiness. If you see anything in your life taking you to a negative space, it is your duty to yourself to confront it, whether that means having a heart to heart with someone you feel is weighing you down (or distancing yourself from this person), or breaking up big tasks into smaller ones.
It is okay to say no to that party and go to sleep or have some time to yourself. There’ll be tons more parties and you’re still cool to those who matter. It’s okay to sit and have hot tea or a glass of wine with your favorite show after a long tedious day. Ma’am, it’s been a long week, and you know good and well that you are more than deserving of that candlelit bath.
So with that said, if you are reading this, remember that you are only able to give healthy love, when you love yourself. You are a queen, so treat yourself as such! I totally understand as someone who works through depression myself that it can be easier said than done, but, it is vital to remember that self love and care is a continuous practice, and is not a destination or something that you can take a day off from. Take it step by step, and make it a point to practice it each and every day. I hope the tips provided below find you well on your journey!
My Top 10 Self Love/Self Care Tips:
- Ground yourself spiritually. My spiritual practices keep me grounded. You DO NOT have to be religious to be spiritual. Meditate, pray, do yoga, or go to church if that is for you. Create your own rituals that instill peace within you. Anything that truly resonates with your soul will do.
- Make a vision board that embodies everything you are, that you love, and what you desire for your life. Pick out magazine clippings, photos, images, odds and ends and glue them all on to a poster board (or a cardboard box!). Hang it up where you can look at it every day.
- When I’m feeling less than fabulous, I throw on some Erykah Badu, India Arie or Lauryn Hill. Those three always set the vibes right for me and help me vibrate higher again. And of course those are my personal faves, but just turn up some happy tunes to get you going again!
A Few Songs (of many) I’d Recommend:
- Erykah Badu
-On & On
- Lauryn Hill
-Nothing Even Matters
- India Arie
- Taking your time with your day always helps, especially in the mornings. Brew/buy your favorite coffee or tea. Don’t just rush out of bed, be still and say a prayer or meditate. Take your time on your makeup. Before you leave, look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful and that you love yourself dearly.
- Work out! Those feel-good endorphins are no joke! After a nice exercise routine, you’ll feel refreshed, motivated and ready to take on the world. This practice is healthy mind, body and spirit.
- If you need to go to counseling, GO. I’m not playing. I don’t care what your father, mother, sister, auntie, or your cousin says. Please go. Your mental health comes first and FOREMOST. Many fail to see that inner issues can creep slowly but surely into aspects of our lives if they are not addressed or healed.
- Pamper yourself! Take a bath complete with candles and soothing music, paint your nails, and/or a facial. Can’t take a bath or hate them? Invest in an all-natural body scrub to use in your morning or nightly routine. When you’re looking good, you’re feeling good. Also, I highly suggest that every woman invests in organic coconut oil for skin and haircare. The tropical scent and your smooth skin will have you feeling like a Nubian goddess within seconds.
- Take yourself to bed earlier. Get everything taken care of and get some well deserved rest. Sleep lessens depression, irritability, as well as makes you feel ready to take on the day, not to mention retains memory for all you college gals. Put your phone ACROSS the room, drink a hot cup of tea, and focus on your breathing before you tap out.
- Keep a journal. Journaling is a healthy way to release the thoughts and feelings we harbor throughout the day. For me, writing is my life. It continuously keeps me in tune of who I am and where I am in my life's journey. Even if it’s one line, make it your goal to write something every day. Don’t know what to write? Here are a few examples:
- “Today, I will show myself love by_______”
- “Two (or more) positive things that happened today are______”
- “Tomorrow, I will create a better day by______”
- Write down the top 3-5 things you love about yourself. If you can write more, WRITE MORE by all means! Now next to each quality, write down how you will you enhance these things, or how you will do you do better to remember these things when you’re feeling down.
- Write a 10 sentence autobiography about yourself, containing a couple of sentences about your past, present and future each. This is a great way for you to see your legacy in plain sight, and to remember who you are and where you are headed. Hang it up or store it where you can see daily.
- Drink PLENTY of water. Great with inner and outer properties. You’ll feel better and your skin will love you lots!
I hope you enjoyed these tips and that they aid you well on your self-love journey!
Peace and light always,