While the term self-care may seem overused in nearly every wellness marketing campaign, there is value in the concept of caring for the self. In order to perform the important work of activism, caregiving, or providing support to others, fortifying mental and physical health is crucial, yet the formula to optimizing health is different for every person. The following are five individual methods that can be utilized separately or together to start caring for the self in order to care for others.
1. Find the good food
Eating healthy can cost more, as fast and easy meals typically are less expensive at the grocery store, deli, or restaurants. Faster food costs less initially, but eventually it takes a toll on overall health. In a COVID-19 world during which money is tight and food purchases have to stretch a long way, making the more-healthful choices can be a challenge. Marisa Moore, a registered dietician nutritionist was raised in a rural area of the south and provides healthy recipes through her blog. Moore’s dishes are mainly plant based, but there are a few meat recipes that rely on lean ingredients. Seemingly smaller choices, such as choosing a piece of fruit for a snack or grilled vegetables and meat—rather than fried—can make a difference in overall mood and lay a foundation upon which to build a stronger self.
2. Indulge in the tempting treats
Treating yourself to indulgent dishes every so often allows the mind to feel that it’s deserving of a reward. The reward need not be for reaching a lofty goal—it could simply be for reaching the end of the week. While indulging in delicious comfort food might seem to be a path down the unhealthy road, tempting dishes can be indulgent, yet made from wholesome ingredients. Orchids + Sweet Tea founder Shanika Graham-White shares decadent foods and beautifully made beverages that seem too comforting to be good, yet they are made using quality ingredients. From Fluffy Overnight Apple Butter Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls (a post in which Graham-White shares her own apple-butter recipe) and Hot + Spicy ‘Nine Mile’ Buffalo Chicken Wings—or Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites for adherents of a vegan diet, Graham- White has indulgent dishes made from quality ingredients, perfect for a well-deserved reward simply for being yourself.
3. Stretch the mind, condition the body
Yoga has become more-accessible in the age of Instagram and YouTube. Plenty of free videos can be found online to address any issues from sleeplessness and headaches to pre-workout conditioning and generating a mood boost. Sisters of Yoga is described as “…a global wellness collective to serve as a home and a safe space for women of color. Women who feel called to explore holistic health and wellness, spirituality and mindful living.” Tie Simpson, founder of Sisters of Yoga and the Hippie Heathen lifestyle brand can be found on Instagram @hippie_heathen, a channel where she showcases yoga poses, treats followers to sound baths, promotes mindfulness, and simply looks gorgeous doing it all. Former NFL athlete turned personal trainer and yoga instructor Derrick DJ Townsel can be found at dade2shelby.net. On Instagram, he can be found @Dade2Shelby, where he shares poses, yoga retreat news, and pictures of himself partnering with his fiancée and fellow yogi Jamie Norman. For a comfortable space among friends, Torrey Brooks-Mauga leads fellow AFBA members in a weekly Saturday morning Stretch & Breathe session at 3:45 p.m. GMT, which is 10:45 a.m. EST and 7:45 a.m. PST. The session is held through Zoom and Facebook, affording access to all AFBA members for a healing, refreshing community experience.
4. Extend shower and bath time
We should all remain cognizant of our water usage, but one of the easiest methods to quell the mind and soothe the body is by taking a warm shower or bath. At the end of the day, shut the bathroom door and simply take a few minutes to step into the shower or bath and wash away stress from the day. Allow muscles to unwind under the heat of the water and clear your mind, only thinking about the warmth you’re feeling. For an additional benefit, light a few candles, play relaxing music, and add some bubble bath, bath salts, or a shower bomb. When finished drying off, apply soothing lotion before putting on comfortable pajamas. Kaharra Harbour, founder of Buttafly Jonez Artisan Collective provides an excellent array of wellness and beauty products. In addition to handcrafted candles, Harbour sells naturally made Loc Detox Hair Bath Bombs, body butters, balms, scrubs, soaps, and lotions that are created using ingredients such as coco butter, shea butter, apricot kernel, avocado, coconut butter, aloe vera, cucumber, green tea, blood orange, and rose hips. These tiny moments of dedicating time to allowing yourself to relax promote recharging for the body.
5. Make time for rest
Many of us don’t devote enough time from our day—or night—to quality sleep. Whether obligations include work, school, children, partners and spouses, caring for elders, there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day for all of our chores, which makes finding time for rest more difficult. Though it might be challenging to rationalize resting when there isn’t enough time in the day for all of our work, taking a few minutes to disconnect during the afternoon and devoting a sufficient number of hours to sleep at night will promote health and wellness. The proper amount of sleep differs for each person, but a reasonable range is between six and eight hours.
Remember—in order to care for others, you must care for yourself and you are worth the