What Radical Self-Care Is & Why It's So Essential For Black Women
Radical self-care is the active decision to put your wellness before anyone or anything else. For Black women, it is a form of protest against a society that is determined to oppress us to death. By choosing to intentionally take care of yourself, you are letting the world know that you are a person who knows her worth and cannot be made a Black martyr. Radical self-care goes beyond your physical fitness. It also includes your emotional well-being, as well as the condition of your soul or spirit. This is called the mind-body-soul connection. Research has found1 that these three areas of your life are intertwined, so when one is acting up, it affects the other two. Thus, you must learn when to use your radical self-care skills.
When to use radical self-care.
Knowing when you need to use radical self-care is essential to your wellness. The answer? Every day. What makes radical self-care so different from other types of self-care is that it requires you to give your full attention to your well-being. Ever get a stomachache when you had to make a tough decision? Or when you were feeling extremely nervous? Or how about the time you said yes to something you didn't want to do? You know what I'm talking about. Bubble guts.
Bubble guts is an example of our mind, body, and soul talking to one another. Our spirit senses something isn't right, our mind is shooting out unhappy emotions, and our body is reacting as the stress hormones course through it. Incidents like this are signals that something is out of order within you and that one of your needs must be addressed to maintain your health. To do this, maintaining balance within your three spheres of wellness is very important. You must use one of your acquired wellness tools. But real talk, that can be hard to do. Life happens. You get so distracted by the flow of your life that you forget to take care of yourself. Therefore, finding a practice of self-care that works for you is essential to the upkeep of your overall health.
To properly practice self-care, you must focus on all three areas: mind, body, and soul. Self-care is a set of daily practices that you do to support your well-being. These exercises, activities, or actions require you to put yourself first every day. Yes, girl. Every day. Self-care calls for you to get in touch with your inner being so you can learn what helps you cope in times of distress and what helps you create a life of happiness. Through self-care you gain knowledge on who you are as a person, allowing you to fall in love with the incredible woman you are on a daily basis.
In addition, pursuing a life filled with self-care improves wellness and prevents illness and disease. The act of self-care has become critical to surviving in the modern world, especially as a Black woman. It helps you create a safe space for yourself in a society that does not care to make room for you. You help your future self and encourage personal growth when you engage in it. For you, self-care is a necessity and not a luxury.
A radical self-care practice to try: Release feelings of guilt around self-love.
As you do the work to improve your well-being, feelings of guilt may arise. You're not alone. This is a common experience among Black women. Often, society makes us feel like we are not deserving of the good things that come to us—unless we worked tirelessly to get them. We are conditioned to push forward through bad feelings, ignoring signs of depression and anxiety to take care of everyone else. So when you put your wellness above others, you feel guilty. *claps* Aht, aht. It's time to release those feelings of guilt around practicing radical self-care to become a better, healthier you.
Grab a notebook and do the following: Begin with evaluating where these emotions are coming from. Take some time to think and ask yourself: Where did I learn that I should put the needs of others before mine? Why do I think I must justify my requirement of self-care? Next, apologize to yourself for the times you pushed yourself beyond your limits and ignored your need for self-love. Follow up with forgiving the origin of the guilt. It is most likely a woman caregiver (maybe a mom or grandma) who didn't provide you with a good example of what caring for yourself should look like. She did the best she could with the amount of awareness she had of herself. Most importantly, commit to not judging yourself if feelings of guilt arise as you practice self-care.
Ultimately, the more you work on not feeling guilty about taking care of yourself, the closer you get to experiencing the freedom you deserve.
Excerpted from Self-Care for Black Women by Oludara Adeeyo. Copyright © 2022 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Used with permission of the publisher, Adams Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.
Oludara Adeeyo is a psychotherapist. Based in Los Angeles, California, she works as a psychiatric social worker, where she assists individuals experiencing homelessness, as well as severe and persistent mental illnesses. Oludara is passionate about helping people improve their overall well-being; especially, Black women. Before becoming a clinical social worker, Oludara spent seven-plus years working as a writer and editor. She has been an associate web editor at Cosmopolitan and the managing editor at XXL. Oludara grew up in Edison, New Jersey. She loves Beyoncé, hot yoga, cooking, and watching telenovelas.