For women who want to break down barriers, be happier and take better care of themselves — without feeling guilty
I’m sure you’re with me on this one.
Most people know self-care is important to our well-being.
However, like some women, especially Black women and women of colour, you are always on the go, tending to everyone else’s needs at home and work, leaving little time for reflection or self-care.
Why is this happening?
Why is self-care so difficult?
What barriers are in the way of us, prioritising self-care when we know the difference between putting our feet up for 10 minutes and having a hammock moment instead of rushing around, gritted teeth and struggling to get through the day?
What kinds of mistakes are we making on a personal, cultural, and economic level that need to change for us to have the time and energy to take better care of ourselves today?
It is outside the scope of this article to discuss how society’s beliefs and cultural norms affect our well-being, self-care practises and mental health.
However, we’ll look at three common fatal mistakes I see most women make due to this social conditioning that makes self-care difficult.
And I’ll also suggest simple mindfulness exercises you can use to individually shift this paradigm in the hopes that we can work together to resolve the endemic cause of this issue globally.
What makes self-care difficult?
When chatting with my friends and even listening to my yoga and meditation students, we often say, “We are too busy” or “We have no time or energy” to look after ourselves.
Although this is true, on a personal level, as a Black British Woman with Caribbean ancestry living and working within the United Kingdom, I believe there is more to this narrative than meets the eye.
1. Negative Self-Talk
A legacy of colonialism is its impact on our psyche — here in the UK and in countries abroad.
As Black Women and women with marginalised identities, we are fed the story that we are not enough.
We grow up surrounded by values and norms that judge our behaviour, cultures and beauty negatively.
As we internalise these beliefs and strive for acceptance in a culture that doesn’t value our life, it sets up an internal loop of critical thoughts and a tendency to self-censor and be harsh on ourselves — we refuse to rest, to take things slowly or lightly for fear of being judged and unfairly reprimanded at work.
If you notice yourself in this position, I encourage you to be more self-compassionate and practice loving-kindness meditation.
Practising compassionate and loving-kindness meditations help you befriend yourself, soothe the critical areas of your brain and open your heart to love and accept yourself deeply.
You can learn more about self-compassion meditation here and click here to practice simple loving-kindness meditation.
2. Oppressive Cultures
Closely related to our tendency for negative self-talk, the nature of our society and the cultures we live in, many women, particularly Black Women and Women of Colour, also have to find ways to feel and be safe while navigating micro-aggressions, racial biases and gender-based expectations at home and work.
The compound effect of this is a body -and soul bruised, weary and exhausted from pretending to be happy, policing our thoughts and putting others’ needs for comfort ahead of our own.
If you notice yourself in this position, I encourage you to find, set up and participate in a supportive community and safe space to share your experiences, find solidarity, and engage collectively in self-care activities to nurture and nourish your body.
If this isn’t possible, Mindful Walking Meditation, the Mindfulness of Breathing meditation or Body-Scan Meditation are good practices to help lift your spirits and ease any suffering you are in.
3. Loss of Focus
Because we spend so much time tugged, stretched and pulled in opposite directions, trying to meet the unrealistic social expectations to be a good parent, partner and employee, most women are too exhausted to care for themselves.
As we go through our day, it is important to be aware of and acknowledge the impact of racial biases and gender-based expectations at home and work and take steps to address the ongoing impact on our mental health.
Again, being aware and mindful of your thoughts and feelings doesn’t change things overnight.
We still typically find ourselves in the same or somewhat similar stressful situations.
By intentionally pausing for a few seconds during your day to take five mindful breaths or practise the three-minute meditation, you can reset your energy, break automatic thought and behaviour patterns, and remind yourself that you value your well-being and will make time for it.
I invite you to watch this short video to support your practice of taking 5-mindful breaths to pause during the day and prioritise your well-being.
To thrive and flourish in a culture that doesn’t centre the needs and wellness of Black Women and Women of Colour, we must avoid making the fatal mistake of listening to negative self-talk and harness the following:
- Support of others to reaffirm our beauty and celebrate our wins.
- Practise loving-kindness and mindful self-compassionate meditations.
- Take intentional breathing breaks during the day to give you time to reflect on what it might feel like to let go of concerns and self-criticism while also giving you a taste of what self-love and kindness might feel like.
So you can show up, trust and love yourself more and move forward with your dreams. Click here to get your free gift 21 Affirmations for Self-Love and Healing.
Thank you for reading my post, and may all beings be nourished and well.
I originally published this article on Medium where you may read my other inspirational articles.
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