Caring for myself is not self indulgence, it is self preservation and that is an act of political warfare.
~ Audre Lorde
I remember reading that quote for the first time: I put the book down and just let the words and their meaning seep into my bones.
We are a society that feels busy all the time—even if studies prove that North Americans, for example, work 12 hours less a week than the average person did 40 years ago. As a December 2014 article in The Economist states,
Once hours are financially quantified, people worry more about wasting, saving or using them profitably. When economies grow and incomes rise, everyone’s time becomes more valuable. And the more valuable something becomes, the scarcer it seems.
One of the points of the article is that we have many more devices now to help us be more efficient in our daily lives, but they also enable us to be more connected to the world, and busier, at the same time.
I wonder if we all sense that—the distraction and the exhaustion—deep inside ourselves.
Is that why it can feel strange to step out of the flow every so often to check in, almost as though we don’t have enough time to make sure we’re doing okay?
Self-care as a practice, as a dedicated part of our days, does not exist yet in mainstream culture as an acceptable habit, even though there is every indication that it should. But why does it matter?
Taking care of ourselves has marked effects both on our stress levels and our bodies; doing things to calm our minds releases higher levels of anti-anxiety molecules into our system; and if we are less anxious, then our blood pressure falls; our blood sugar regulates; our circulation increases.
If our parasympathetic nervous system slows and calms down, it is happier, and then we are genuinely happier.
It is this idea, that self care can make us happier, that deserves a little bit more exploration.
I’m interested in the glimmering connection between caring for ourselves and coming to a place of acceptance about who we are and how we function.
There is space there, as the breath sinks down low and cracks us open: space to breathe and to simply be. That is one of the goals of “Self Care Summer Camp”: to give us all a toolbox that we can come back to, to remember what it is like to feel nurtured, loved and seen by ourselves, and that is what intrigued me about the notion of spending the rest of the month of August prioritizing self-care.
I know that when I do self-care I feel more beautiful. I feel more rooted in myself—in who I actually am.
And that—that feeling of being the ones who make ourselves feel beautiful, no matter how we think the world wants us to look like or behave—that’s an empowering thing. Especially if 93 percent of adults have reported feeling ugly at some point in the past five years.
The idea that most of us—myself included—have said or felt those things about our bodies, most likely because our bodies conflict with a lot of the mainstream ideas of attractiveness that we digest, makes me sad. But there is specific measures being thought up through social media to counter this lack of self-esteem.
Selfies—the act of taking a picture of ourselves, and posting it online—is a phenomenon many people credit for making them feel beautiful. It has particular poignancy for those who may have been rarely, if ever, represented in the pages of a fashion magazine.
Perhaps the phenomenon has something to do with the study of ourselves: looking at cheeks and seeing the structures beneath them, the hollows of eyes and necklines, the curves of lips. It is a way of saying I am here; I matter because I see myself.
Once I thought about it that way, I could see how taking selfies could be an important teaching tool in showing us our own spirits in human form. It could be a guidepost on the road to loving ourselves and feeling confident in who we are—which is one of the pieces of self care. It’s all connected and it all feeds into each other.
And taking the time to do these things—it gives us time and space to appreciate ourselves, and be just who we are. That fills our well like nothing else, and that is the revolutionary thing.
So this is why the editors of Some Talk of You and Me, A Beauty full Mind, and Be You Media will be doing a #Lovemeselfie challenge on Instagram. If you’d like to join us and share your beauty, you can find us by using that hashtag, or by following any of our accounts. If you don’t have an Instagram account, share your selfies with us on Facebook!
Let’s revolutionize the way we treat ourselves.
Let’s be the bad-ass, grounded human beans we know we are, the ones who have hearts and souls as wide as rivers, as tall as trees.
The editors, in alphabetical order:
Kate Bartolotta, Founder and Boss Queen at Be You Media Group
Kristin Diversi, Founder of Some Talk of You and Me
Jamie Khoo, Founder of A Beauty Full Mind
Keeley Milne, Co-Founder and Community Editor of Some Talk of You and Me
Bronwyn Petry, Managing Editor of Be You Media Group
Brandie Smith, Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Some Talk of You and Me
Who are you? Let us see?