Tips from Black Womxn on taking care of your body and putting you first.
Last week we learned about four inspiring womxn who shared their stories and best self care practices with us. They taught us the importance of meditation and saying no to people who would drain us otherwise. They also taught us to know our worth and that holding oneself accountable is a form of self care.
This week we will hear from four more Black womxn, including myself. I have been very intentional about the womxn I chose to share their stories with us. I chose incredible womxn who know how to love themselves in spite of all the challenges they face on a daily basis. These womxn are all hard working entrepreneurs who are juggling many different projects, businesses, jobs, and more! They are doing it all, yet they still make time for self care and so can you.
Maintaining A Healthy Lifestyle
“Caring for myself as a Black womxn starts with the nourishment of my body.”
Improving your overall health can be a big part of practicing self care. Your body is your temple so in order for it to be happy, you have to be healthy. Bridgette, a 30 year old mother, student, and entrepreneur, is devoted to carving out time each day to make sure her body is in mint condition. “Normally my self care routine starts in the mornings with meditation, drinking water and some skin care. During the day I take care of my body by fueling it with the right foods and staying active because that’s what I love doing,” she said. Mental health and diet often go hand-in-hand. By making sure that your body is getting the right balance of nutrients, proteins, and vitamins, you can reduce anxiety and increase your overall happiness.
Bridgette has been on a journey to improve her diet and exercise routine ever since she took a nutrition class a few years ago. She said, “Caring for myself as a Black womxn starts with the nourishment of my body. As a community we struggle with illnesses like diabetes and heart disease because our diets tend to consist of too much fatty fried food, sugary drinks and snacks with excessive amounts of sodium. None of these options are okay with me at this point in my self care journey.”
Normalizing Self Care
“I make time for self care because that’s essential to my being. I don’t consider my self care as time to myself. It’s just another thing I have to do.”
When we talk about self care (even in this article) it’s usually in the context of something we have to make time for because it’s not part of our daily lives. Well Latisha is here to change the stigma about that! As a flight attendant, mother, and wife she knows how easy it is to get wrapped up in caring for other people. She says, “I have a toddler but I make time for self care because that’s essential to my being. I don’t consider my self care as time to myself. It’s just another thing I have to do.” By adding self care practices into your daily routine like Bridgette and Latisha, you cut out the stress and guilt of not feeling like you don’t have the time to do it.
Latisha says, “When I was growing up I would watch my mother working out to Denise Austen videos. She would always tell me to make sure I took care of my body.” So she gets regular massages to work out any tension and stress that may be built up at work or at home. “I always feel like we have so many outside forces bearing down on us. Dealing with the microaggressions, the expectations, the stereotypes, just from day to day life. The only way to deal with it all is to center ourselves. Nobody else will love you as much as you love yourself.”
Learning To Be Selfish
“DO NOT feel bad or let others make you feel bad for making yourself a priority. You have a divine right to put yourself first.”
As children we were taught that it’s not nice to be selfish. If you have something, you should share it with others. Let me tell you right now that’s ridiculous! Black womxn get to be selfish with our time, energy, and feelings. We give so much to others yet we get so little back. Nneka Gigi is an artist, business owner, and PhD student who has little time to spare at the end of a busy day. “Self care means being selfish with my mental, physical and spiritual space. It requires me to understand that being a Black womxn requires particular care to my mental state of mind. Our struggles are unique and we have to be kinder and more patient with ourselves,” Nneka said.
Practicing self care isn’t just giving yourself time to care for your body and mind, it’s also knowing how to remove yourself from people and situations that can weigh you down. Nneka said that, “Black girls and womxn are kind of indoctrinated into a lifestyle of taking care of others, and while that can be rewarding, it can be easy to forget about yourself. I have had to learn the importance of self care and selfishness.”
From such a young age we are told that we should put ourselves last. Whether it’s taking care of others first, or even considering their feelings before our own. To Black Womxn who are just learning to practice self care she advises, “DO NOT feel bad or let others make you feel bad for making yourself a priority. You have a divine right to put yourself first.”
“On this journey I have learned that self care is an act of self love, and I have found strength in choosing to love myself above all else.”
To me, self care as a Black womxn means loving yourself enough to reserve space for healthy people and habits in your life. Having the strength to walk away from people and habits that continue decrease the value to your life and create a cycle of unhealthy behaviors. It means making choices that positively affect your mental and emotional health.
Part of my selfcare routine is reflecting. Reflecting on the relationships in my life and how they affect me. We have to know when it is time to walk away from people whether it is a temporary, physical distancing yourself or a permanent erasure. Whether it’s a friendship, relationship, or coworker, it is important for us to realize when someone’s toxicity is decreasing the quality of our lives instead of improving it. As a Black womxn I’ve become accustomed to seeing microaggressions and picking up on certain words and red flags that indicate that someone is ignorant or lacks respect. For example, angry, irrational, acting crazy, etc.. When people carelessly toss around words like that in describing me or other Black womxn, I know it’s not someone I want to be around. The best thing I can do for myself at that point is sever my connection with that person. Black womxn are womxn who feel emotions like everyone else.
We also have to be mindful of the habits and routines that set us back. Things that we did in our early 20’s may not be good for us in our late 20’s. The knees don’t work the way they used to! Practicing self care means reflecting on how my daily habits are affecting my life and whether or not I need to make a change. Change is inevitable, and part of that means saying goodbye to who we were and embracing and loving who we are becoming. On this journey I have learned that self care is an act of self love, and I have found strength in choosing to love myself above all else.