• Kandice Cole

#BlackSelfCare: We deserve to thrive

Updated: Jan 4

After eight weeks of sheltering in place, I was exhausted physically and mentally. Trying to keep up with my regular workload felt more difficult as people tried to act like the world was not shutting all the way down. Between worrying about my family’s health and trying to find a sense of normalcy in the chaos, I had one too many sleepless nights. I had experienced burnout before and knew the inevitable would happen if I did not start taking better care of myself.

I slowly incorporated self care back into my routine. I started meditating for a few minutes in the morning and writing in my gratitude journal. I started watching birds outside the window while I took breaks from my work. My best friend even convinced me to start growing a few plants on my apartment patio. I had been on the search for a Black therapist and signed up for a few virtual appointments so that I could navigate my internal landscape as I adapted to the “new normal.”

Bit by bit, I started to feel more energized and my sleep improved. I started to feel more like myself again. It was easy to put myself last on the list, so I had to commit to self care no matter what. Staying committed to my self care routine meant making adjustments to my work habits and my family had to adjust, too. I couldn’t be everything to everybody. I had to show up for me just as consistently as I showed up for everyone else.

When I showed up for myself I was happier, but I also started to feel a nagging sense of guilt as I maintained my self care practices. Did I really need another nap when I felt okay? Did I really need to take that walk before heading into another Zoom meeting? Did I need to stay consistent with my self care routines now that I felt more balanced? It was as if exhaustion and burnout were the badge of honor to “prove” that I deserved self care.

I was not alone in this feeling. Many other Black people in my network were having a hard time practicing self care on a consistent basis. The idea of constant self care seemed to bump up against some deep seated beliefs that we had learned along the way.

Many of our beliefs around self care or the lack thereof are rooted in an oppressive narrative that we didn’t create. Practicing self care, regardless of if we are feeling good or not, presents a tension within society that derives value from Black people being in constant states of exhaustion and struggle. We exist in a world that is rooted in systems that have no interest in Black bodies surviving let alone thriving. #BlackSelfCare means something different than the trendy self care movement that has taken over the wellness industry. It is not simply convenient add ons to improve our lives. Self care means so much more to us and for us.

On the Instagram of the Nap Ministry, created by Tricia Hersey, she explains that, “ Rest is a form of resistance because it disrupts and pushes back on capitalism and white supremacy.”

Self care is more than random acts shared on a blog. Self care is a powerful weapon of resistance. It is a weapon that allows us to create real pathways towards freedom. Taking care of yourself is the ultimate act of affirming that your life matters.

Audre Lourde knew of this freedom which is encapsulated in the oft quoted statement that “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” The statement is an invocation to reconnect to the power of self care. Preserving oneself must be grounded in the belief that you are valuable. That you are worthy of complete self regard. That you deserve spaces that support your healing and nourishment. From this space we can imagine lives that support our highest good and move us beyond surviving to full on thriving.

Every single act of self care is an affirmation that you deserve to thrive. You do not need to earn self care. You don’t have to wait until a certain breaking point to pour into yourself. The right time is always now. Every self care ritual contributes to creating an ecosystem that centers around your creativity, joy, and freedom. You deserve to thrive. I deserve to thrive. Black people deserve to thrive. All of the time. #BlackSelfCareMatters

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