“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde
My name is Sharnell James, and I am the creator of Dear Self Care — a lifestyle blog that sheds light on the importance of mental health and self-care in the Black community. The passion that I grew in this topic stems from my own experiences with depression and anxiety while completing my undergraduate degree at Grand Valley State University. While I went through my dark times with my depression, I learned that part of the problem was my lack of self-care for myself as I had become heavily involved on campus. I allowed myself to continue to pour from an empty pitcher to please everyone and everything that I was serving at that time. I could not say “NO” to anyone because I would always feel bad afterward; however, that soon changed after doing a lot of self-healing and therapy. Now, I am a woman who is not afraid to live in her truth and advocate for the importance of taking care of your mental health while practicing some self-care.
Dear Self Care
Why is the conversation around mental health and self-care important to have in the Black community? Mental health in the Black community is a taboo subject because of the:
- Lack of education/resources
- Stigma around it, which leads to the conversation being nonexistent in the home.
I can recall feeling “ashamed” to say that I was struggling with depression because I was afraid of what people may say to me or about me. I didn’t want to hear the “Girl, go pray about it. We don’t deal with that!” or “You ain’t depressed you are just crazy!”. I also did not want to be considered “weak” for being honest about my personal struggles.
63% of African Americans believe that expressing your struggles with mental health is viewed as being weak. That is a false statement! It is okay to not be okay. As a community, it is imperative that we break the generational curse of silencing ourselves when it comes to mental health and takes care of ourselves through the forms of self-care.
Self-care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, during periods of stress. As I stated before in my journey with depression and anxiety, I learned that it stemmed from my lack of self-care during stressful moments. I never allowed myself to practice self-care to refill my pitcher which leads to the feeling of burnout. I have heard the misconceptions of self-care being a selfish act or an excuse to isolate yourself; however, that is all false. Self-care is not selfish, go take care of yourself!
Tips to Practice
If you are someone who does not know where to start with practicing self-care, here are some tips:
- Therapy, journal, or mediation.
- Going outside for a nice walk.
- Taking a trip with some friends, partner, or alone.
- Treating yourself to a massage or spa day.
- Binge a new show with a glass of your favorite wine,
- SLEEP! Get you some rest, sis.
- Turn your phone off for a day; unplug.
- Speak positive affirmations into yourself.
These are just a few things I do as forms of self-care. Every time I complete one of them, I feel like a new woman. Make sure you all are caring for yourself; it is okay to do so. If you want more from Dear Self Care, follow me on Instagram.