story | D Dangaran, Guest Contributor
Self-care is a misnomer, because it often includes other people. I see self-care as actions taken by people who undergo stress—whether post-trauma or just due to daily life—in order to restore energy and bring themselves to a state of productivity and happiness. There is no special recipe for self-care. Everyone will discover their own ways of letting off steam, managing their stress, and coping with everything on their plate. Working through a busy schedule isn’t self-care, though; some of the busiest people schedule in self-care purposefully (think of Presidents with family time, Googlers with mini-golf and nap rooms in their office spaces).
Self-care has been my avenue for rediscovering my self-confidence. I needed to heal after some traumatic experiences linked to my race, gender, and sexuality.
There is beauty in healing, pouring out of every moment: from that silky, slow-churned beauty that sticks to the roof of my mouth with the taste of the Nutella sandwich made on a night in with friends, to the special kind of solitary beauty discovered only on that detour when walking back from my trip to Clementi. I can’t forget the serene, flowing beauty of the water hitting the tiny pebbles in the meditative knickknacks decorating my counselor’s office, calming me down, allowing me to feel and seek empathy without hurry. Counseling was not some sort of key to happiness, but the conversations I had taught me that I didn’t have to go about this process alone. Hearing someone else affirm my feelings really helped me to come to peace with the experiences I had been clinging to so tightly. Every empowering moment is only one of many steps; I know self-care will be a continuous part of the rest of my life.
And what is self-care, for me? Rant, sleep, repeat. Cry, breathe, repeat. Run, journal, repeat. The beautiful part is that no one can tell me how to take care of myself. The thoughts of friends and counselors are only helpful to a point; external validation only goes so far.
Self-care is not an invitation to be lazy. To the contrary, practicing self-care requires active engagement with the world around you, even if that means reflecting on how much you’re able to handle in a given moment and deciding it’s better to stay in your room today. That’s work, too.
When you’re ready, go into the world again with renewed fervor.
For another opinion on self-care, read Ren Jie’s article.
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