TCB: Self-Care That Goes Beyond Skin Deep
A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to go to San Juan, Puerto Rico. I fell in love with the island and am looking forward to returning. It has been a hectic year for me and I really needed to take the time out to reset my brain and recharge. The time that followed my return, really helped me to hone in on what I want more of in my life, and what I have decided to cut out completely, which ultimately led me to the pinnacle of what self-care should truly be all about.
I can not count the number of times, self-care has been minimized by those closest to me. I’m not referring to pampering yourself beauty wise. However, I am referring to the emotional and mental pampering that so many women forgo.
A friend of mine lost her father recently, and as we were catching up over drinks, she would often start tearing up. Of course, this made sense given that she was grief-stricken. However, every single time she started to cry, she would almost immediately stop herself and apologize for it. I repeatedly said, "are you kidding me? Why are you apologizing? Please, let it all out. You are allowed to be sad. You are allowed to have this moment."
Another friend of mine was also going through a difficult time and echoed the same sentiment as my first friend. For her, it was a matter of not feeling sorry for herself and not having the time to take a break.
Personally, I have gone through this more times than I care to admit. I punish myself for being human, for being "weak", and emotionally vulnerable.
While you may be doing your weekly manicures, daily workouts and any other type of self-indulgent treatment you can afford, far too many of us continue to neglect our emotional well-being. We over extend ourselves. Attend functions we don't really want to go to because we feel bad about not going. We answer phone calls because we feel too guilty to "click certain people away". We consider it ‘lazy’ to take much-needed breaks because we have an endless to-do list and exist in a culture where you are expected to push yourself regardless of how you feel.
Self-care is literally an act of sustaining yourself. A feeling that far too many women don't allow because they've erroneously associated self-care with self-indulgence as opposed to a self-requirement.
Particularly Black women. My mother used to say, "Black women take a licking and just keep on ticking" in other words, they never acknowledge their hard times or pain because historically they haven't been given the "luxury" to do so. Studies show that women internalize stress more than men. We are the caretakers for those around us, the glue that holds a lot together, and as a result, we often place our own needs on the back burner. However, having suffered from burnout on more than one occasion, I have truly come to understand why emotional and mental self-care is paramount and necessary to achieve happiness.
It’s about being kinder to myself. Allowing myself to make mistakes and giving myself the self-love to get back up and try again. I recently made an error and literally agonized over it for 3 days straight. It ruined my mood. It caused me to cry. To say I was disappointed in myself was a gross understatement and I definitely beat myself up about it. However, self-care is about accepting your faults and loving yourself in spite of them, having more self-compassion and self-patience. Achieving some sort of contentment that is very different from settling but instead taking the time to celebrate yourself and your accomplishments, rather than continually pushing yourself onward to the next goal.
It's also about not continuously sacrificing your own needs, for the selfish desires of others. Ultimately, mental and emotional self-care is about recognizing when you are at a low, and prioritizing and loving yourself enough, to restore yourself to your high.
What do you think? Is self-care often minimized for you? Do you struggle to balance your needs with those of your loved ones? Please do share your thoughts and comments, either here, FB or IG?
Photography: Sebastian Marquez Velez (IG: @sebastianmarquezvelez)