Hey my Kings and Queens, I hope you all are surviving and striving through this tough week. I come to you today with a list of self-care practices that will be extremely helpful for many people right now.
Over the last five years, I learned so much about my reactions to certain issues like drama, racial issues, police brutality, gun violence and all, and I came to terms that I am not strong enough to consume all of it at once without breaking down. Examples of that would be crying out of nowhere, staying in the house all week, or simply losing hope. As humans, we are forced to be symbols of strength and prosperity no matter the situation, but most of us were not taught on how healthy it is to cry, or that it’s fine to sit down in a corner for a few minutes, or take yourself out to a restaurant and forget all responsibilities for a moment. Self-care is so crucial.
For me, in order to overcome issues, I need to do activities that will feed my spirit, and keep me away from the fear and worry that I, as a Black woman, feel a lot of the time.
I do have to make this clear, I am not a licensed psychologist or mental health expert.
I am a woman who has gone through depression many times in her young life, and these 10 self-care practices are actions I wish someone told me about when I was a scared young girl and a lost college student. The thing about depression, in my experience, is that there will be on and off days, and all it takes is one day at a time to build up your strength and find your worth.
With that said, here is my list of self-care practices that I highly recommend:
1. Talk to someone.
This is at the top of my list because no matter how strong you are, you really can’t survive pain and frustration on your own. Talk to your family, talk to your friends, your mentor, a professor, a professional therapist. You can even talk to God. Trust me; talking out your thoughts after them being stuck in your mind, is a huge relief on your spirit.
2. Find your happy place.
I have to go to bookstores or record stores when I feel overwhelmed, and discovering a new book or old musician is so liberating for me. There’s no judgment, I always learn something new, there’s always peace, and I can leave with a smile on my face. What makes you happy? Singing, cooking, cleaning? Don’t worry, walk around town and see where your soul takes you.
I recently read a meme stating “Black women be wanting to stop & cry so badly, but there’s sh** to do.” Umm, no. I advise everyone, especially Black men to cry when they really need to. You need time to let those tears fall, and hear yourself weep. Think about it like this: You are carrying about ten water balloons in your pant pockets and you can barely move one leg due to the heaviness. Watch how fast you start walking when you take all of them out of your pockets and pop them. Your mind clears up so much when you have nothing holding you back. Don’t feel bad about crying, you’ll feel so much better.
4. Be kind to yourself.
I’ve been through many moments where I looked in the mirror and said “I’m fat,” “nobody cares about me,” and even “I’m ugly.” Eventually, I realized that I was instilling negative vibes and energies to myself, and that is more exhausting than saying a simple “I love you” to the mirror. Talk to yourself, there’s nothing crazy about that. Tell yourself how bomb you look and how lit you are. Hug yourself. Tell yourself it’s okay and things will get better. Be the best friend to yourself, the way you are to your loved ones.
There is so much joy that goes into dancing. So much. Here’s a small fact about me that may be weird, but I’m proud of it. A lot of the times when I listen to music, especially Michael Jackson or New Edition, I create a choreography studio in my head where I go in the kitchen with my headphones and iPod, and create dance routines to the music. Call me weird, but I’ve done it since I was 14 and it’s so much fun. Dance and don’t worry about how you look while doing it. I can do a killer moonwalk…with socks on…on a wooden floor. Michael would be proud of me.
6. Remove yourself from toxic environments.
Sometimes you just have to follow your instincts; if you feel at the most uncomfortable around someone’s presence, or environment that doesn’t mesh with your energy, just go. It’s polite to let people know, but don’t feel bad at all because you know what your limits and red flags are, and you should refuse anything that could threaten your peace and sanity. This includes social media as well. Stay away from the comment section; most times the comments are never good and you end up wasting your time proving a point that wasn’t heard or understood in the first place. Last year, I took an entire month off of social media because I continuously compared myself to others and felt like my life was not as exciting as others. Don’t let yourself think like that. As the legendary Jermaine Cole would say, “no such thing as a life that’s better than yours.”
7. Read something.
You’d be surprised at how one book can instantly change the way you think, talk, and imagine life for yourself. There are so many books out there made for everyone, even people who hate reading. There are also magazines, catalogs, cookbooks, anything that will take your mind off the world for a moment and invite you to a different world. Eventually, I hope to share with you my reading list for the year, but I’m more hooked on self-help books and cultural history.
You deserve a break to go out and travel to a new place. That new place could be one train stop away, to a mall, to the beach, or even a different state. Discover something new and take pictures. In June, I spent a few days with my best friends in New York, and you don’t understand how much I needed that getaway. Remaining in the same place day by day can get boring, frustrating, and suffocating at times, and you need to breathe in new air and experience life in new surroundings.
People have always told me that exercising can cure depression. Although I slightly disagree, it does make you feel a lot better about yourself when you finish your routines. All of the emotions that you built up can be released through strength training, Zumba, weight-lifting, and other various techniques. This is the only self-care practice that I still haven’t made the habit of, but in time I’ll get there.
10. Use your purpose.
For a while, especially last year after my college graduation, I felt a bit empty and lost because I wasn’t doing what I loved. I love writing and I love being a poet, and I can’t ignore that it will always be a part of me. When you discover in time what your enjoyments are, and what completely fills you up inside, that will always continue to give you life regardless of the pain you feel. Whether you love to sing, dance, build websites and apps, or love giving back to the community, never lose sight of that. I know some people who have so much joy fighting for human and civil rights and shows up to every protest. I know some people who can’t bear to see homeless veterans and young families on the street and goes out of their way to provide helpful resources for them. Take some time to find your purpose, and when you do find it, use the heck out of it.
Honorary mention: Laugh.
I had to include this one. Watch your favorite movie or video that is sure to make you smile and laugh right away. Laughing kills the bad energy and tears most of the time. Go to a comedy show or to a funny movie, and make it worth your while.
I hope some of these tips help you through some tough moments in your life. Just take it slow, one day at a time. There’s nothing shameful about taking care of yourself.