A quick glance at our social media feeds these days tells us that self-care is the new “in” topic for content creators, but who can blame them? The issue lies in the fact that self-care is more than just a series of Instagram posts, candles, bubble baths, and yoga pants. A consequence of the surge in popularity as a hot topic in modern media brings up accessibility concerns for something that should be a daily practice regardless of class, race, or gender.
Self-care with a modern luxe twist runs the risk of becoming a temporary solution, accessible only to some, as a means to briefly quiet the pain of recurring bad feelings and make modern life feel more bearable. – Nicole StampThe revolutionary origins of self-care
This new age trend of reducing self-care to nothing more than a series of beauty and lifestyle hacks often used as a coping mechanism will not provide the long term benefits most people are looking for to help them break free from the cycle of overwhelm that currently seems to control their lives. The pursuit of daily joy and happiness starts with curating a holistic self-care practice tailored to meet our individual physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. For that to be normalised across the board and made accessible for all, we need to first debunk the myth once and for all that self-care is a luxury. The term “luxury” here is used as an all encompassing term to cover the common misconceptions that self-care is:
- too expensive
- time consuming
Unlearning these beliefs about the way we have been taught to practice self-care by mainstream media can help us to connect to our needs so we can create a routine that allows us to maximise the benefits one can reap from implementing a consistent and holistic self-care routine.
Understanding the History and Origins of Self-Care
Although the concept of self-care has been hijacked by all the mainstream buzz in recent years, the term originally appeared back in the 1950s in the medical field.
In many mental health institutions, self-care was coined to refer to the activities that patients used to cultivate a sense of self-worth through physical independence.
As you can imagine, this included the simplest forms of self-care that we often take for granted in our daily lives like brushing our teeth and having a shower. These patients were able to recover their bodily autonomy and in the long term a consistent practice helped to build up their sense of self.
Not too long after that, the term was co-opted in “high-risk and emotionally daunting professions”.
In such professions where workers are repeatedly dealing with traumatic events, implementing a well rounded self-care practice was encouraged to offset the varying levels of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that came about as a result of their work. Here’s what the advice around self-care looked like for fire-fighters, social workers, and other first responders:
- Physical Self-Care, which included taking care of their physical health by eating well, getting enough rest, and getting regular medical check ups.
- Psychological and Emotional Self-Care, which included mindfulness practices such as journaling and other forms of self-reflection.
- Spiritual Self-Care, which included meditation.
As we move into the 1970s, the Black Panther Party began promoting self-care as essential for African Americans as part of their 1972 Ten Point Program. Self-care was a top priority in Black communities continuously faced with the collateral effects of racism such as systemic, interpersonal, and medical racism.
Since then, not much has changed. Even today we continue to see calls for rest from many leaders in the African American community as they continue to call for prioritising your wellbeing to be normalised.
At first glance, you may think that this is just a call for rest but, self-care has always been a foundational part of the revolution and it does not only focus on individual well-being, but also the well-being of the community as a whole.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” — Audrey Lorde
My decision to brand myself as a self-care coach for Caribbean Millennials across the diaspora extends itself beyond fragrant candles and spa days. In all truth, I acknowledge that it is important to treat yourself but distracting yourself from doing the necessary work that safeguards our communities from future burnout (whether it be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual) is why this work matters to me.
Not to mention the fact that across BIPOC communities, rest is typically seen as a reward for hard work and achievement. Not only is this wrong, but the consequences are harmful. A quick scan of your friends’ social media updates will tell you that they are all tiredt.
That’s where I come in, because liking and saving all the posts that come up on your Instagram feed is one thing, but if you are still finding it difficult to slow down and prioritise your well-being so you can break out of that cycle of overwhelm you might need some external help.
Developing a holistic routine that prioritises rest and self-care will give you the chance to experience the joy and happiness that so many of us find lacking in our daily lives. While it may sound simple, starting with self-care is the solution.
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