When Audre Lorde first spoke of the concept of self care in her 1988 essay collection ‘A Burst of Light’ , what the poet, activist and philosopher was referring to, is very different to how we have come to understand the concept of self care today. Whilst there is nothing wrong with indulging in baths, netflix, wine, manis and pedis. I would like to bring us back to the foundations of caring for yourself as a daily practice and form of resistance. Self care, at least in the way Lorde intended it, is a reminder to incorporate daily and sustainable practices that support you in a world that aims to destroy your spirit.
At the time of writing her essays, Lorde was battling cancer whilst still doing the back breaking work of fighting structure oppression. Living at these intersections: being a activist, poet, scholar, mother, lesbian and Black woman. Fighting structures of oppression alongside battling cancer, Lorde conceptualised self care as a declaration of political warfare. Taking care of yourself is an act of resistance!
In thinking of sustainable self care practices for yourself, I implore you to look at self care as practices that nourish all aspects of your being. Self care makes it possible for you to face the challenges of the day.
This post I offer you 6 simple ways to cultivate daily self care practices that do not require you to spend a dime.
1. Find some undisturbed quiet time during the day….
Determine whether you are a morning or an evening person and work around those time frames to find some quiet time for you alone. You could take 30 mins to have a cup of tea before everyone else wakes in the morning or use this same routine in the evening to switch off before heading to bed. The importance of quiet time is to tune into yourself and your needs before the world starts to make demands of you. If your prime time is the evening, then use this time on how the day went and how you can show up better or differently for yourself.
2. Find some time to create…
Most of us have a day job that pays our bills and keeps us afloat. Within the time you have in a day , what are your creative outlets and pursuits? What invigorates and excites you.What balances your day? It is important to think of creativity broadly and not limit it to the classical arts. Creativity can be an aspect of your work.Think about the small things that make your job enjoyable, whether it is that ability to communicate, or the possibility of spending time with colleagues, the word play that allows you to drift off when reading. Whatever it is, find some time to do it.
3. Drink lots of water…
The majority of your body is made up of water. Water not only nourishes our bodies and enables our bodies’ functions. Water is also grounding and connects us to the universe and our surroundings. The next time you need a break, or feel sluggish, how about drinking a glass instead of grabbing for your fourth cup of coffee? I am not shaming coffee drinkers, I love coffee myself. However, coffee numbs and often helps you push beyond your boundaries. What I am suggesting is, how about starting with water first and then coffee.
4. Give yourself permission to be the friend with the extra dietary needs…
For years I struggled with this one. I did not want to be the difficult friend with a list of foods she cannot not eat. Instead, I would go out, enjoy dinner with my friends and struggle alone at home. My insides were inflamed. Taking care of yourself is not being difficult, it is choosing to do what is best for you whilst showing up to have a wonderful time with your loved ones.
5. Find out how much sleep you need…
Our bodies are different and so are our sleeping circles. Some people feel well rested after 6 hours of sleep, while others may need 8 hours. Find out what you need and be diligent about your sleep, it is essential. Our bodies need rest to recover, to help our minds to function properly the next day. We need sleep to process the day’s inputs and emotions.
6. Find some time to move…
The concept of movement is broader than exercise. Take the time to find out what kind of movement you enjoy, what your body responds to and what is sustainable for your lifestyle over time.
For instance, I have noticed that unless I work with a trainer or teacher, I cannot stick to any movement regiment that requires me to stay focused for more than 35 mins, and I do not intend to work with a trainer my entire life. Instead, I have experimented with different forms of movement, and found that my favourite form of exercise to do alone is a mix of intensity and flexibility. I exercise for a maximum of 20-40mins, anything longer and I will not commit. Other than that, I love to walk, dance, do yoga, etc. These forms of movement are easily incorporated in my daily life and keep me elated!
As per usual, these tips are offered simply as guidelines. Experiment and find out what works for you!