Updated: Feb 9, 2022
As a professional indigenous woman, I’m familiar with the hamster wheel of trying to do everything. The pressure placed on women in society to be the voice, be the change, to be the best mom and the best partner, all while having to excel at all our passion projects, is overwhelming on the easiest days. We are here to say, “No more!” I realize that this type of pressure and need for perfection is not sustainable. Without down time and relaxation techniques, when am I supposed to replenish those parts of me that spread too thin? This quest for having it all, doing it all, always comes at a cost.
Many parents have been conditioned to think that they need to have their children enrolled in every program and every sport imaginable, and that it’s necessary to be involved in all aspects of their children's lives; from school boards, coaching teams, providing snacks for 20 plus kids and sitting next to them during homework time. Iʻm not quite sure when this shift occurred. I don’t recall my own parents being so involved, but not once did I feel neglected or ignored.
Somewhere in the past 20 years we have lost the fine art of slowing down. I feel like I’ve forgotten how to take time to enjoy hobbies and passions separate from our family members. When I’m without a second of free time, shuffling kids here and there or volunteering for every school function and team sport, it’s like I wear it like a badge of honor. Culturally, we have sensationalized the overworked, super busy mom who still looks put together. Everyone loves a strong woman that shows no weakness, they call her something like “Girl Boss”. For communities of color, we’re used to overcoming. We expect that there will be obstacles and feel shame when we can’t overcome and make our communities proud. But itʻs time to challenge that narrative and separate ourselves from the hustle and bustle to replenish and fill up our cup.
The term “self-care” invokes images of women spending the whole day at the spa or going for lunch and shopping with no care in the world or men in their “man cave” tuning themselves out to the world around them. This term has received a bad reputation and we are here to tell you that itʻs not a “dirty” word, but rather itʻs a Superpower! We all deserve and need to take the time to honor ourselves and our bodies. It’s harder to enjoy things that we love or to aid those we care about if we are not full and whole within ourselves.
Here are some strategies to slow down and show yourself care and love:
Put together your go-to self-care kit: a movie you love, a comforting song, a delicious and satisfying meal, a form of movement or exercise you enjoy, your favorite hobby, and a grounding habit.
Write yourself a letter of gratitude. Use the following prompt “Thanks so much for doing ______, it really helped me ______. I needed it” Example: “Thanks so much for going on a long walk, it really helped me reconnect with nature. I needed it.” (adapted from Michelle Han, msha.k1/mintymich)
Set boundaries with your energy and time. State what you need and take it. Examples: turn off the phone or say no when you donʻt feel like going out.
Meditate or manifest, even if itʻs for five minutes. Reflect on all the good that you have in your life, dream big, or simply sit in silence.
Have a dance party. Think Meredith and Christina of Greyʻs Anatomy and just “Dance it out!”
Give yourself some flowers with words. Write in your journal affirmations or mantras that resonate with you. Or simply write “I am” statements. Example: “I am kind. I am generous. I am honest.”
Set up a routine, whether it is a bedtime or morning routine. Anything can be a ritual, even making yourself a glass of lemon water everyday. You are not simply making lemon water. You are making time for yourself by cutting the lemon and squeezing it into a glass for you to feel refreshed and honor waking up everyday.
Self care doesn't have to be elaborate. There is no need to get sucked into the perfect ideal of self care. For some, self care involves reading a book. For others, it means roller derby once a week. Go enjoy those bath bombs and face masks, but true self care is just giving yourself time and space that you set aside to honor and love yourself, no matter what that looks like.