As the end of this tumultuous year comes to a close, it may be tempting to want to throw away 2020 and forget about it. If that’s what you need to do: go for it! This year has been stressful and traumatic, and the most important thing is to do what nourishes you.
Yet the more I talk to people, the more I realize how many lessons this year brought us. Many, like those related to the racial and social uprisings around the US, were long overdue and ongoing. Others were more personal—deeper self-understanding, love, and care. And while “self care” continues to be a buzz word, co-opted by capitalism, colonization, and whiteness from Black, Brown, and Indigenous activists—at its heart self care remains a vital part of creating a more just and free world.
Self care is about so much more than bubble baths, face masks, brunch, and scrolling TikTok
Those things are wonderful—and please, I beg you, don’t ask to see my screen time report once I joined TikTok—but they fall more under the realm of “self-soothing.” They feel good, help you feel calmer, and even de-stress, but they don’t necessarily get underneath to the deeper work that’s often required for healing and freedom.
Self care also isn’t only about catharting
A primal scream, powerful orgasm, or sweaty workout can work wonders—and also it can be a convenient way to bypass whatever circumstances and emotions are present.
Self care is about knowing yourself deeply, healing internalized oppression, and liberating yourself
This is the work of dipping into your shadow self and healing the, often ancestral, patterns that support you or your communities. It’s going through dark nights of the soul and finding moments of pleasure even in them. It doesn’t always feel good or soothing, and it’s definitely not always fun to do. Heck it’s not even always best to do alone, depending on your background.
What it does offer is the opportunity for longterm, deep healing that reverberates through every aspect of your life and heals along your ancestral line and your descendants too.
The best self care is in service of community care
2020 reminded us just how much we need one another. The most marginalized individuals were at the highest risk—for COVID, for police brutality, for eviction and homelessness, food insecurity, loss of work, and so much more. Mutual aid networks sprung up seemingly overnight and everywhere, a direct reminder that no one can do it all alone. Working on your self care in service of the collective allows for the healing to more easily ripple out.
17 Practical but Powerfully Healing Self Care Resolutions
1. Make and keep a tiny promise to yourself for at least 30 days.
2. Move ya body on the hour, every hour.
3. Notice when you move into a story or make assumptions about what someone means.
4. Complete this sentence in your own head and with those you’re in relationships with: “I notice… and I imagine…” Give each other the opportunity to speak truth.
5. Only say yes when you mean it. Only say no when you mean it. If you aren’t sure, say that. And, yes, you can change your mind of course.
6. If you aren’t already taking Vitamin D and Magnesium check with a healthcare provider and start.
7. Make a list of things that bring you pleasure and intentionally incorporate them into your day.
8. Notice and name your emotions.
9. When faced with a decision, ask yourself what would feel most nourishing.
10. Connect your self care to something larger than yourself by asking “how does this serve collective liberation?”
11. You’ve heard about your comfort zone and the need to go out outside of it. Educate yourself on the Snap Zone as well.
12. When addressing something challenging, activating, or traumatic, dip in until you begin to feel activated then dip out. It may be best to do this with a helping professional like a coach or therapist at first as you grow your body and felt sense awareness.
13. Notice how your body feels in different circumstances. What makes you feel contracted? What makes you feel light? The goal isn’t to feel light all the time but to continue to be ok
14. Practice noticing your breath without changing it. Let this be a practice in accepting yourself as you are, right now.
15. Learn about your window of tolerance—or what Jane Clapp calls “window of capacity”—and how to expand it.
16. Throw a ball against the wall for one song’s length each day and anytime you feel stressed.
17. Heed Resmaa Menakem’s wisdom that safety is not a prerequisite for doing the work—the work being healing racism and other oppression in yourself and contributing to the creation of a new culture.
2020 exposed just how hyperindividualistic and ineffective self care has become
When self care gets distilled to feeling good or better, self-improvement, and being only about you, it loses some of its power. Let 2021 be a year of taking baths and dipping into the deeper work—for a more just, compassionate, and pleasure-filled world.