“Anyone who is interested in making change in the world, also has to learn how to take care of herself/himself/themselves”-Angela Davis, American Activist & Author
Around the world, July 24th is recognized as International Self-care Day. The day was established by the International Self-Care Foundation (ISF) to raise awareness about the vital importance of self-care in relation to individual mental and physical health. The date, 24/07, was chosen to communicate that the benefits of Self-Care are experienced every single hour of every single day.
I really wanted to get this piece written so I could post it on the 24th, but instead of pushing myself to get this done, I decided to spend time truly practicing self-care. So here it is, several days later 😃
What is Self-care and where does it come from?
The World Health Organization defines self-care as: “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”
The idea of self-care was first discussed amongst academics and mental health practitioners in the early 50s as a way for institutionalized patients to continue their care after being discharged. The acts of self-care were designed to develop a sense of self-worth in the patients by treating themselves with care and consideration.
Although it was a common term among the medical community, self-care as a concept did not enter the wider world until the 1960’s when The Black Panther Party realized how important it was to their fight for justice and equality on both an individual and community care level.
“For a long time, activists did not necessarily think that it mattered to take care of themselves in terms of what they eat, mental self-care, cultural self-care, spiritual self-care,”Angela Davis, Interview with AFROOPUNK
How can we practice self-care?
Recently, the health and wellness industry has capitalized on the trend of self-care promoting images of spa treatments and bubble baths. While these can be amazing aspects of self-care it is not the totality. Self-care is also doing the basic things your body needs such as nutrition, exercise, and rest. Even something as simple as keeping up with your basic hygiene can be a vital part of a self-care routine. Self-care is tending to your physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual needs.
Whether it is yoga, spending time in nature, connecting with loved ones, saying ‘no’ when you feel overextended, cooking a nourishing meal, allowing yourself to grieve, getting a good night’s rest, drinking water, praying, journaling, what is important that you do it regularly, consistently and with a sense of love and compassion for yourself.
The next time you sit down to read a book or take a long bath, remember how important it is to treat yourself well, that these things are not selfish or indulgent, but deeply necessary to your sense of wellbeing.
Why is self-care important?
In today’s world, people can find themselves under so many different societal and financial pressures. The popularity of Hustle culture, also known as toxic productivity, can make people feel as though their ability to be productive and make money is what dictates their value. When you can practice acts of self-care, it is a reminder that your worth is not dictated by external factors, that you are worthwhile and valuable just as you are. Caring for ourselves is a positive and reliable method to remind ourselves of both our inherent worth and to connect to meaningful factors in our life beyond productivity. This alone may feel like a radical act!
Creating and sticking to a self-care routine is a reliable way to build a strong and caring connection with yourself. Being able to consistently treat yourself with love and care allows you to self-validate and can help you feel calmer and more confident in knowing that you have the power within to improve your mood and get out of negative head spaces. It is a way of saying “I matter” and allowing yourself to act accordingly.
If you or anyone you know has been struggling with burnout, feelings of low self-worth, or would like to improve their abilities in self-care then please do not hesitate to book a session with one of our experienced care providers.