Self-care is an essential part of maintaining overall health and wellbeing. For busy Black women such self-care is especially critical because we deal daily with the negative impacts of systematic oppression and its damage to our emotional, spiritual, and physical selves. It can be easy to prioritize work and other responsibilities over our attention to Self. In fact, we’ve been socialized to do so. Our prioritization of others over our self-care can lead to burnout, stress, and other health-related issues. Here are some self-care tips for fellow Black women who find themselves in need of a bit more attention.
1. Schedule Self-Care Time One way to ensure that you prioritize self-care is to schedule it as a part of your daily non-negotiable to-do list. This could mean blocking off an hour each day to do something that brings you joy, such as reading a book, taking a bath, or going for a walk. It may also include scheduling that mammogram or meeting with a financial planner that you’ve been avoiding. By scheduling self-care time, you make it a priority and are more likely to stick to it.
2. Practice Mindfulness Mindfulness is the use of deliberate strategies to become fully present in the moment. These techniques support your awareness and help you identify your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Incorporating mindfulness techniques into your daily routine can help reduce stress and increase overall well-being. Try taking a few minutes each day to practice deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. I’ve blogged about some of these practices here.
3. Get Enough Sleep Sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. However, many busy women struggle to get enough rest. It's important to prioritize our sleep habits and to create a bedtime routine that helps us relax and unwind before going to bed. This could include reading a book, taking a warm bath, or listening to calming music. The most important thing is to create signals that your body can use to know that it’s time to unwind. To help prevent distractions from your sleep, try to stop all technology use about two hours before you go to bed.
4. Build Community Connecting with others can be an important part of self-care especially for Black women. Our cultural traditions necessitate, and benefit from, community. This could mean spending time with friends and family, joining a community group or organization, or seeking out a mentor or coach. Connecting with others can help reduce stress and provide a support system during challenging times. As I like to say, “heavy is too heavy to carry alone.”
5. Destroy the idea of “Lazy”. Black women are socialized to avoid being “lazy.” We’ve been told time and time again, that our inactivity is a negative characteristic to be avoided at all costs. One of the worst insults one can levy against a Black woman is calling her lazy. For Black women in particular, destroying the myth of our laziness is paramount. In fact, I don’t think there are many others on the face of earth that work as hard as we do. It's important that we learn to take breaks throughout the day, especially when we are overwhelmed and underappreciated. Taking short breaks to stretch, take a walk, or do anything that brings us joy can help reduce the impacts of stress and can create a better sense of wellbeing.
By incorporating more self-care into our daily routines we can combat the effects of racism, sexism, and misogyny to generate greater overall health and well-being. I hope that if you are not already practicing a sacred ritual of self-care that you consider trying one or more of these strategies.
Let me know how it goes.