I'd like to stop using the term self-care and start using 'taking care of ourselves'. For me, to take care of myself is necessary and even has a vibe of urgency about it. I often use 'take care' as a sign off and 'take good care of each other' as a wedding wish. It feels more authentic and like a genuine act of kindness.
While self-care has been co-opted by all manner of corporate marketing and has created yet another unattainable beauty standard, to take care of oneself leans towards holistic health and well-being. As we head into a season that can be fraught with issues, from families to finances, and to balance out the messaging of give and buy, I want to focus a little on how we can replenish our energy and reflect on our own needs, as a matter of priority.
I was reading an article by Katie Heaney on The Cut titled “How Ava DuVernay Gets It Done” and one particular part really stood out for me. Ava DuVernay is an award-winning American filmmaker who has boldly tackled race and social issues in her work. When she spoke about redefining self-care, I took note: ⠀⠀
“I used to say that I was not good at self-care. But over the summer someone said something to me that really resonated: Self-care is inclusive of the people that you put around you. So when I say I’m not good at self-care, I’m thinking of massages and time by the pool. But that’s not really self-care, that’s relaxation.
Self-care is: How do you care for yourself each day? And a big part of that is: Who do you allow to be around you, and who are you putting yourself around? When I think of it that way, I am great at self-care. I’ve been able to hand-pick everyone who works with me and everyone who I work with — what a fortunate position. So I’ve turned from being someone who said I was bad at self-care to saying I’m the queen of self-care.”
I have certainly mixed-up self-care and relaxation in the past! Ava DuVernay points out a very important distinction between the two when she defines self-care with a question: How do you care for yourself each day?
This. This is where self-care is essential. It’s not all bubble baths and cups of tea. It’s actually eating breakfast. It’s taking some time at the end of the day to do some breathwork or journaling. It's being gentle on yourself when you aren't feeling at your best.
My favourite act, as some of you may recall, is placing a glass of water on my nightstand so it’s there for me to drink first thing in the morning. I take great joy in this kindness I do for myself. It steadies me at night and starts me off with thought and presence in the morning. There’s no way to do this perfectly, nor anyway to mess it up. It’s plain old fashioned taking good care of myself. And, it can be as basic as drinking water or breathing air.
Many of us will be taking part in various holidays over the next month or two. For some, that means buying (saving for, researching about, ordering in time – if possible, shopping in-person - if possible, wrapping and giving) holiday gifts. Some of us take on other people’s shopping lists or plan celebrations for entire groups of people (otherwise known as your family or extended family or friends). Some of us will be alone or far from our familiar surroundings and traditions. However you find yourself this holiday season, I truly hope you are able to find moments and opportunities to redefine self-care for yourself.
And with that…
Take good care,