Why Self-care is Vital for Black Women

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." - Audre Lorde

The Strong Black Woman

As Black women, we often take on the Caregiver role for our families and others. We feel a sense of responsibility to carry the load of everyone else, suppressing our own wants, needs, and desires - for fear of appearing weak. This, we call the "Strong Black Woman" syndrome.

We are often looked at to save America, our black men, and our children because we are deemed the backbone of humanity. In many ways, we indeed are. But, how can we possibly save everyone else if our own mental and emotional well being are deteriorating?

Among Black women are the highest rates of depression. We deny our depressive symptoms, and shove them off as simply just being tired. We also lead in deaths from diseases like, breast cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. We often hold ourselves accountable to emotional resiliency because that's what we've been taught from our mothers and grandmothers. We believe we have to be strong for everyone else, downplaying the agony of our soul crying out for much needed rest and attention.

Putting ourselves first can feel like we are abandoning everyone we love, when in truth - if we don't, we are abandoning ourselves.

How Do I Live Well?

The idea of wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices towards a healthy and fulfilling life. It is more than being free from illness, it is a dynamic process of change and growth. Wellness is the conscious development of the whole self. Embarking on a wellness journey is a process of searching for the appropriate "tools" to make you a healthier and happier human being, plus discovering your own effective methods to use these "tools" for continued growth and development.

There are many obstacles we as black women face in obtaining optimal wellness. Many of us lack access to self-care techniques and stress management tools, such as therapy. Even in 2020, there's still a stigma within the black community about therapy and seeking resources outside of the church. Finding a licensed professional who understands the trauma of the black community can be challenging, and is a wonderful resource to feel seen and heard.

I know all too well the difficulty of asking for help, and allowing myself to be vulnerable enough to receive it. But, being strong isn't a badge of honor. I've learned to allow myself to be human, and humans are not robots. It's ok to feel weak and overwhelmed at times. Battling anxiety and depression alone often times worsens our mental and emotional distress. We don't have to be everyone's savior all the time. That's too much pressure for two shoulders to bear.

The Pledge of Self-care

As we continue to deal with systematic racism and oppression, it is imperative that we maintain our mental health. Below are a few ways to incorporate more self-care into your life:

1. Align your life with what brings you joy.

What are the things you enjoy doing that make you feel light and free? It can be anything, such as cooking, gardening, or reading your favorite book.

2. Choose to do what energizes and renews you.

How do you maintain your energy levels throughout the day? Do you love doing 10 minute workouts? Walks around the park? Or, eating healthier meals that provides your body with the needed fuel? Whatever it is, see if you can do more of that - even if just an extra hour a week.

3. Do what nourishes your mind, body, and spirit.

When we make the time to attend to our mind, we calm racing thoughts and quiet those doubts and fears that creep up time to time. When we slow down, and focus on our breath, we release tension from our bodies. And, when we indulge in spirituality - reading, meditating, or some form of devotion - we nourish our spiritual being.

Whatever you find nourishing for you, continue to practice radical self-care.

This month, make a self-care pledge to yourself:

I pledge to make time for the little things that make me happy.

If you're part of my membership, please join us in the self-love club and share what things you plan to do with your new self-care pledge! If you're not a member, click here to join.

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