Happy New Year! No doubt this is a phrase that you’ve heard and said many times, in recent days. You’ve also probably heard and seen many people talking and posting about their new year’s resolutions and goals for the year. This is always the case, as the New Year represents an opportunity to ‘start over’. And I’m no different. In the last couple of weeks, I thought long and hard about the personal changes I want and need to make. I’ve had long discussions with friends and colleagues. I’ve even thought about making a vision board – a visual depiction and reminder of all the things that I want to work toward in the coming year.
Now truth be told, I usually don’t make New Year’s resolutions, because I know the likelihood of me sticking to them is small. Yet this year, I thought long and hard about what changes I need to make. Of course, I want to save more money, lose weight, eat right, and travel more! Hell, who doesn’t want to do these things. However, I want to focus on something deeper and more meaningful to my overall well-being and happiness. So the one thing I am resolving to do this
year, and am fully committed to, is increasing the amount of time and attention I put into my own personal SELF CARE.
As a Black woman, I think implementing some type of self-care is essential!! While self-care is important for all people, I really want to emphasize how important it is for Black women. In our
society, Black women are often stereotyped as being “The Strong Black Woman”, who takes care of others and manages everything against all odds. Many of us take on the burden of this stereotype, often out of necessity. I know I’m guilty!! But we can’t bear the weight of this stereotype, without much personal sacrifice! We have to find ways to affirm ourselves, even as the rest of the world continues to incorrectly and unjustly label us. WE HAVE TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF OURSELVES!! PERIOD!!
I define self-care as those things which not only improve my health and well-being, but also those things that increase my sense of contentment and happiness. For me this means, taking my time to be by myself and to reflect. It means increasing my ability to be honest with myself, forgiving myself for past mistakes, releasing control over things, and not being scared to move forward. It
means admitting my flaws, seeking help when I need it, being OK when things don’t to go the way I envision, and being OK with NOT being OK. One thing I am keenly aware of is that I’m tired…..and it’s time to change, it’s time to evolve!! And this applies in all areas of life: physical, spiritual, financial, and emotional.
So whether I attend a yoga or dance class, sing LOUDLY in the shower, stop cleaning up and fixing other people’s mess, stepping away from certain people and/or situations, or simply closing my door and drinking a nice glass of wine, I resolve to be 100% committed to me!! If I don’t, who
So my suggestions for increasing you level of self-care include
1. Being honest with yourself about the areas of your life which you are unhappy with or are stressed by.
2. Identify activities or things that increase your level of happiness/contentment and decrease your level of stress.
3. Set aside time for you to focus on yourself and maintain boundaries around this time. This can be tricky for parents, especially single parents (I know I have struggled), but it’s a MUST DO!
4. Have the courage to follow through with your plans, no matter how far-fetched, and do it! Let me
provide a personal example. Growing up, I wanted to become a professional dancer and in recent year, I have really regretted not following this dream. Now realistically, at 41 with 2 kids to raise, I am not going to fulfill this dream. However, I can take a dance class and get back into the groove!
5. Take time to pray and/or meditate. Taking take to quiet your mind, body, and spirit is so important!! It can improve your physical, mental, and emotional health and refuel you for the challenges of life!!
The key is to find what works for you and to JUST DO IT!
So here’s to 2014 and taking care of US!!