"Self care resists the idea that we should put our families, partner and others first, and it preserves our well being in a nation where we are taught to dislike ourselves. It is an act of survival." - Audre Lorde
National Relaxation Day was founded in 1985 by 9-year-old Sean Moller who believed that there should be a day without cleaning or chores. While he may have just wanted to get out of doing housework, the concept is one that is beneficial to each and every one of us. With today's fast-paced life, taking the time to rejuvenate and recuperate helps prevent health risks.
Why Self-Care is important
Self-care isn't just important – it's necessary. Taking care of yourself first not only impacts you but everyone else around you.
- Better productivity - You cannot drink from an empty well. Taking the time to slow down and recoup can help with focus and productivity. Slowing down should mean whatever resonates best with you. I personally choose to read by the lake or take a long (but not too tedious) hike.
- Improved immune system - Taking time to do things like exercising, eating, and sleeping well allows for our immune systems to function at high levels through rest and restoration.
- Ability to give more - Being able to give to yourself allows you give to others and increases compassion. You cannot give someone that which you don't have.
Radicalism of Self-Care
Black women are particularly not accustomed to self-care. As as an African woman, I was taught to take care of others first, including my younger siblings. I first started putting self-care into practice when I was in my late 20's. I decided that once a month I would take myself out on a date. No book, no phone, just food and the people around me. I wanted to know that I could enjoy my own company and not fear judgment from others about being alone. Now, that was not always economical so I discovered that I enjoyed hiking alone, or reading or writing near the lake.
The joy of self-care other than the joy it brings is that there is no "one size fits all." Do what works for you. You will realize that many things do and it's a great time to get to know yourself. As women, especially women of color, there is not a lot of room given for this because the needs of others are prioritized.
I think about my mother and, while she never used the word "self-care", I remember her getting her hair done occasionally. Was that self-care for her? My mother had four children by the time she was my age. Her mother was married at 16 had 10 children by the time she was my age, all of whom she gave birth to at home. I know for a fact that my maternal grandmother did not have the "luxury" of self-care. And while that was a different time, what remains the same is the emotional trauma that is passed down generationally. Self-care is more than a method of sustainability. It can also serve as a means to combat generational trauma. It is never to too late to learn about self-care and what works for you. Some sites are geared specifically to motivate black women to take ownership of their wellness.
Start your self-care process today. Whether it be in a cathartic way like writing in a journal or by having solo dance parties (I am an avid participant of these), take the time to find out and enjoy what makes you feel good. Noire Care is a great digital resource where black women can harness the necessary tools for self-care. Use the #NationalRelaxationDay and join in the conversation on social media. Imagine how much more powerful we could be if we weren't running on fumes all the time. Self-care helps us better help others.
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