“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” —Audre Lorde
I am often asked how I can continuously work to advance equity, inclusion, and justice while existing as a Black woman, a mother, and a wife whose identities are as vulnerable as they are powerful. In all honesty, I ask myself the same question from time to time, especially when I am exhausted, and the last few weeks have been just that. The answer for me is radical self-care. This concept, coined in the 1950s as a means for understanding post-traumatic stress, spread to the civil rights movement and remains a fundamental strategy for avoiding burnout.
Radical self-care is steeped in the awareness that in order to survive, certain boundaries and practices must exist, and that we cannot wait for permission to cry, rest, grieve, or even to exist. Fighting for your own humanity is exhausting and failure to practice consistent self-care only increases your vulnerability. Individuals impacted by and fighting against anti-Black, anti-Hispanic, and anti-Asian racism, as well as anti-LGBTQIA hate must leverage every opportunity for rest, joy, community, and for sacred space. Our very survival is contingent upon our willingness and ability to care for ourselves deeply.
If this resonates with your experience, I’d like to offer some simple but meaningful practices and I invite you to make time for at least one each day this week.
- Create screen time limits for social media apps and stick to them!
- Purge your timeline and unfollow or snooze negativity. Understanding challenging perspectives can provide insight AND do harm.
- Get some sun and fresh air. Being in nature helps us to feel grounded.
- Review and, when necessary, revise your schedule. Offer to reschedule or email updates and deliverables instead.
- Grab a coloring book and revisit your childhood.
- Take a nap. Never underestimate the value of a power nap!
- Ask yourself, “What do I need?” And when you come up with answers, honor them by advocating for yourself. (e.g. “I need to take the day off.”)
- Last, but not least, SLEEP. Rest is not a reward.
Self-care is a permission slip giving you all access to that which feeds your spirit, preserves your body, and keeps you whole. I hope that you will commit to caring for yourself and helping your siblings to do the same. To learn more about this concept, watch this video on YouTube.