self care

five signs it’s time to walk away

i fell apart manytimes.sowhat does that sayabout mebesides i live through wars. (1)

we’ve all been there. trapped in life/work/relationship/financial woes that make it difficult to get out of bed each morning — our lives feel like they’re not our own.  instead of chucking the deuces to painful experiences, we allow insecurities, financial needs or other challenges to convince us to sit front row at the “my life is a hot ass mess convention.”

we start to listen to the voice in the back of our heads telling us that we don’t deserve happiness:

healthy relationships are made for tv.

emotional well being is a myth made up by white housewives who wear $90 yoga pants and drink pumpkin lattes.

don’t believe the hype — happiness and emotional well being are real. but here’s the hard truth: if we want to experience them, we gotta get rid of the shit that weighs us down.Fly Final

for years, i was convinced that my toxic relationships would get better. i made excuses for myself and my past partners’ actions to legitimize the pain and drama that had become a part of my daily life.

i know it sounds like a scene from mary j.blige’s “not gon’ cry” video, but one day i literally looked in the mirror and said no more. i wanted to be proud of myself. i wanted my little sisters to know there’s nothing they can’t overcome, no situation they can’t rise above.

if you’re like me, then agonizing over whether it’s time to quit your job, create boundaries with loved ones or end a romantic relationship is the worst part. i’m no therapist, but here are five signs that prompted me to stretch, lace up my nikes and run towards a better life:

  1. you keep asking yourself whether it’s time to go. intuition is God’s voice speaking to us. if you’re constantly asking whether your current experience is right for your life, then guess what — i’d bet money it’s not right for your life. you know what happiness and fulfillment look like; trust yourself.
  2. you can’t remember the last time you enjoyed the experience. any experience that feeds our spirits should instantly prompt positive memories or thoughts. stop and think about your current struggle. if you have to force yourself to think of something positive, then it might be time to go.
  3. everybody from your therapist to your mama to the old lady on the bus knows how much pain you’re in. ever broke down and cried when an acquaintance asked how your day was going? i have. when your pain becomes the topic of every discussion (including nonverbal cues), then it’s consuming your well being.  feeling the need to constantly unload your painful experiences on others is a key sign that your emotional burden is too much to bear.
  4. you’re losing sleep. sleep is essential to our physical and mental health. if stress and anxiety are keeping you up at night, then your current struggle is winning twice. not only is your day consumed by pain, but it’s hijacking your rest too. sleep should be like the hope diamond — priceless.
  5. you spend more time shadow boxing than focusing on reality. are you cursing your boss out while watching tv? planning your next argument with bae while folding clothes? if so, your subconscious is desperately trying to gain control over something that’s left you unsettled. while brooding over negative encounters can make us feel more powerful in the moment, shadow boxing only anticipates more negativity. you can chose a different outcome.

i’m sending love and positive vibes to folks facing emotional hardships. while your burden may be heavy today, remember we have the power to live through wars.

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black girl sabbaticals: amina’s story

it felt as though i’d been tired for days, for months…maybe i’d been tired all year, maybe even longer.

i remember waking up one morning in the middle of june, in a flood of tears. the migraine i had struggled with the night before still raging like a storm in my head, and my chest still skipping off-beat from the panic attack i’d fought with the week before. as i rolled over in bed, sobbing uncontrollably at the thought of having to face another day, another dozen or more emails, hundreds of texts and several other “urgent” demands on my time, i realized that i needed to make some very *urgent* and intentional energetic shifts in order to regain a sense of balance in my life. i knew then that for the sake of my own well-being – and life – i needed to slow down, stop and catch my breath.  i needed to do things differently.

Amina4as an activist and someone that’s been involved in social-justice-community organizing for many years, it’s hard to explain what it means to suffer from “systematic exhaustion.” though my body and mind felt weak and drained almost daily, i often felt shrouded by feelings of guilt for my tiredness. the moment i would start admitting the need to rest, i would hear myself saying really quite, destructive things like – “there are so many other people out there who have things a whole lot worse than you do,” “just keep going” and “you can do it.”  being relatively young made it even more complicated – because who the hell was i to be feeling so tired at 30?

…and that’s when i decided to take a moment to pause.

i needed to be with myself alone in the cool, dark, quiet of dawn, outside among the trees and flowers, in the ocean, in my kitchen boiling ginger and lemongrass and chopping garlic. i needed to be in all of these places in order to release myself of all of the guilt, pain and anguish that i was feeling – and the ridiculous need to compare myself to others.

…and it was in those moments of revolutionary quiet that i found myself making decisions such as taking time off from work (and being unavailable and offline), shifting to part-time work to give my creative self the time and space that it needed, learning to say things like “no” (thank you) and being able to respond with “yes, but i will need some time for that.” i found myself reaching out to my various communities of care and sister circles saying– “i need your support” and “i need to be held.”

there is no shame in creating the space, and making time in order to allow yourself to heal. admitting the need for rest and prioritizing wellness does not make you any less of a “great” human being (or an activist). in fact, it speaks to the heart of self-preservation and revolutionary love, something that black women like toni cade bambara and audre lorde wrote so fiercely about.

taking the time out to heal and be well is one of the greatest gifts we could ever give ourselves and our communities. truth be told, i’m still figuring out what true balance looks and feels like – but these days i’ve been waking up feeling lighter, and with more of the sun in my eyes.

photo (iphone) credit: sabriya simon and amina doherty | graphic credit: politics & fashion


Amina6

amina doherty is a nigerian feminist artivist whose work focuses on feminist philanthropy and creative arts for advocacy. she is passionate about art, travel, photography, fashion and writing. she lives and works from kingston, jamaica. you can tweet her at @sheroxlox.

black girl sabbaticals

i’ve been in a season of self-care. after making a conscious decision to stop normalizing anxiety and stress, i’m seeking a simpler life — one that’s judged by the quality of my experiences, not the quantity of my possessions. thankfully, i’m not doing the work of re-evaluting my position in the american rat race alone — sisters of the yam by bell hooks has been my bible and sister’s circle dc has become my congregation.

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summertime fine: 5 tips for self care

black women need more avenues that lead to healing and self care.  with pervasive violence perpetrated both against us and around us, audre lorde called caring for ourselves an act of “political warfare.” this summer, i challenge sisters to deconstruct the superwoman myth and spend the season nurturing their self-care practices.

-self-care is never a selfish act—it is (2)

here are just a few tips that i’ve found helpful in creating my regimen:

1.  do what you loved as a child: if you enjoyed it as a child, chances are it will be therapeutic as an adult.  think back to the time when you weren’t worried about your job, student loans, children’s needs or relationship woes.  at about eight-years old, i fell in love with reading, but as an adult, haven’t made much time to enjoy fiction. i’ve gone back to that happy place this summer and selected five books for my summer reading list (blog post coming soon).

2.  travel: every year i stress myself out by trying to plan a big vacation. i stress the details, saving money and worry way too much about using my precious paid vacation days.  inevitably, my self-inflicted stress takes all the joy out of the experience and the trip goes up in flames. this year, i’m over it.  not only did bae and i plan weekend getaways between june and august, but i’ve also joined travel noire’s #tndistrict to get alerts on cheap flights abroad. i’m using my passport this year. you should too.

3.  eat healthy:  or at least eat less processed food and drink more water. there are many chronic health issues that a clean diet can help to resolve. take the the time to plan meals and snacks, eat out less and limit alcohol — you’ll feel 10 times better. admittedly, investing in my health is the hardest struggle i face, but a necessary component of my self-care regimen.

4.  connect with nature:  push away from your desk. go outside. take a walk, visit a park, have lunch, just take a moment to enjoy the fresh air and sun’s vitamin d.  on the weekends, instead of spending all of your valuable daylight hours watching tv or surfing the internet, go for a hike, ride your bike or read a book on your front porch. mindfulness teaches us to be present in every moment, and nature is a great motivator.

5.  be alone: significant others, children and friends are all great, but the relationships take lots of energy to maintain. love yourself as much as you love others, and schedule alone time each week, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. disconnecting from the needs of others and truly focusing on you is a golden experience.

for practical tips on mindfulness and self care, check out how to train a wild elephant: and other adventures in mindfulness by jan chozen bays. also, this article from the feminist wire does a great job placing black women’s self care into a revolutionary context.

be well. xo