Self-Care Is Intentional Work
Finding peace as a Black woman requires a tremendous amount of persistence. Think about it: You wake up each morning to a country run by people who don’t look like you, who don’t have your best interest in mind, who are actively working to kill people that look like you, all while being bombarded with messages that reiterate damaging stereotypes about you. How a Black woman is supposed to wake up feeling abundant in her self-worth is beyond me.
I don’t remember the exact moment when I first realized that self-care/self-love will always look different for me. As someone who battles anxiety, my journey towards self-acceptance has been filled with uncertainty and what feels like excessive relapsing. Often times when I read books and articles on working towards “being a better you” or “finding happiness” or even the whole idea of “mindfulness and being present”, I am more often than not hit with an even greater sense of anxiety.
There are good days, of course. The heaviness is not always unbearable and the anxious moments are fewer, but even on those days when it feels as though I’ve been granted mercy in being able to breathe a little easier, I know that my anxiety lurks near by.
There is no defining moment where I can pinpoint when or why or how I became this way. I kind of have to believe that I always was. As a kid, I can remember feeling nervous and anxious all the time. Growing up, I always felt the weight of feeling too much all at once and not knowing where to place those feelings.
Writing has always been a way to lead myself back to myself and let go.
Living with anxiety means that there is an ambush of different variables that come into play when attempting to take better care of yourself. There is a lot of self-loathing, doubt, fear and sadness to rummage through before you can even begin to get to a place where you are mentally, emotionally and physically capable of opening yourself up to the possibility of healing.
For the longest time, I thought by ignoring my anxiety I could somehow suppress all the uneasiness, and illogical thoughts. It wasn’t until I began to write openly about it that I discovered others who have the same feelings. In speaking out about mental health, it has less of a stigma now. More Black women are opening up about battling anxiety, depression and other mental health related journeys. Seeking therapy has become normal and necessary.
By no means would I ever claim to have mastered this whole notion of self-love and self-care, but over the years I have developed some coping mechanisms that can sometimes lessen the weight of it all. Feel all the things. Don’t shame yourself into thinking you should be any more or different from what you are right now. You are okay and strangely beautiful just the way you are, mess and all.
Look at something outside of yourself. So many times, we are told to look within. Well for a person with anxiety this can be the absolute most terrifying thing you can ask of them. The times when I feel the closest to being at peace is when I’m outside taking long walks, or writing in the park. The rhythm of the leaves swaying in a tree. Studying the stillness.
Carve out space and time for yourself. I’m okay with creating space for myself away from everyone and everything to recharge and re-center myself.
When possible, appreciate yourself. If that means taking all the selfies in one day, because you’re feeling magical for the first time in months after being in a fog, do it. If that means dancing and putting on that outfit that makes you feel beautiful and invincible, even if for one night, then go for it.