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4 Self-Care Practices You Can Start Today

This has been a "week".🥴

In a mere seven days, we’ve seen a devastating fire in Cape Town, one that took the priceless African Studies collection at the University of Cape Town, where I’d hoped to do some of my PhD research. We’ve also seen a (temporary?) halt to the use of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and delays in vaccination efforts. In a historic case and rebuke of American police brutality, Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd. But just as the verdict was coming in, we learned that police killed Ma'Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old Black girl in Columbus, Ohio. And let’s not forget the ongoing global pandemic.

The world is a lot right now. And it has been for the past year. Even for those of us who have survived relatively unscathed, there seems to be a collective feeling of “meh.” Adam Grant helpfully gave us language for our common condition in a New York Times piece this week: Languishing.

The question many of you are asking is what to do in the face of all of this? How do we continue to be resilient in what feels like a never-ending onslaught?

My view: we become intentional about self-care.🧘🏾‍♀️

Unfortunately, to some, self-care brings to mind spa days, champagne brunches, and luxury vacations. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of these things, and once I get my Fauci ouchie 💉 I absolutely intend to indulge in them, often. But at its heart, self-care isn’t about pampering ourselves.

Self-care is how we intentionally and consistently invest in our It’s about the relationship we cultivate with ourselves.

Self-care is the context in which we get to know ourselves as we change and grow and develop. It’s where we keep pace with our needs and hear that still small voice, the one that in the words of Alice Walker, “knows exactly which way to go.” Self-care is vital to developing resilience and building our capacity to show up for our families and teams. And if you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe Harvard Business Review.

With that said, making time for self-care in the present moment can feel daunting. So here are four practical things you can do now to begin creating a practice that supports you.

🚫 Decide what you’re not going to do. Time is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. What are some of the “shoulds” you spend a lot of time on but that you don’t love? Identify the activities that won’t have that much of an impact if you give them up and stop doing them. Immediately. (Spoiler alert, unless you’re in charge of vaccine distribution, this list probably includes more things than you’d like to admit).

🛌🏾Get some rest. Seriously. In my adult life, I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’m getting too much rest.” As Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith points out, we all need seven types of rest: physical, mental, sensory, creative, emotional, social, and spiritual. Make sure you’re getting a regular dose of each.

👐 Get support. There’s a meme that regularly pops up on social media, “check on your strong friends,” because people rarely do. Many of you in this community are “the strong friend.” You’ve become the resident expert, problem solver, advice giver, lender of money, or shoulder to cry on in your family, office, and friend group. When asked how you are, it’s never occurred to you to say anything but fine. What would it look like to work towards making your relationships more reciprocal? The kind where your loved ones feel hearing you out is a gift, not a burden. Or better yet, what would it be like to develop a relationship with a therapist, coach, or another professional where you get to unload, unwind, and focus exclusively on yourself for an hour? 🎉 Have some fun. When was the last time you did something fun, just for you? Not because the kids wanted to, not because it was a forced work activity, but just because you felt like it? Do you even remember what you like to do for fun???

I know the idea of planning a good time can seem awkward amid a literal pandemic. Still, the truth is, we’re in this for the foreseeable future, and your misery won’t speed things along. If anything, what we need to endure and support others in the long run is resilience, grace, and agility, none of which can be developed without an intentional and consistent investment in ourselves.


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