Updated: Apr 23, 2020
This blog was drafted weeks before COVID19 hit. It was born out of a conversation with my SisterFriend, Ambuir. We have these check-in sessions where we ask "how are you?" "how are you caring for yourself?" There is an unspoken expectation the answer will be detailed and oftentimes, it includes a list.
A few weeks ago, we had one of our intense Virgo-Scorpio chats where I literally listed all the ways I was intentionally caring for myself. If you have a Scorpio friend, you already know things can go deep, fast. When we were done, I thought, I should share this as a blog for mothers + entrepreneurs + full-time employees + wives + daughters + friends + new yorkers (etc).
And so, here it is. WARNING: It's not edited to reflect COVID19 specific self-care tips. As a business owner, there is a lot of pressure to tailor messaging to reflect COVID19 sensitivity. I get it. I want my community to know that I care because I do. I want them to know that I am cognizant that everyone can't stay home and am in solidarity with essential workers. However, right now, my entire life is lived in deference to the beast that is COVID19. I can't remap one more thing and frankly, I won't. And that's ok. My hope is that these tips are relevant before, during and after COVID19.
Self-care tip in action: grant oneself grace and compassion.
So here goes...
1. Choose your tribe wisely.
It’s important to have people who really care about you. These are folx who concretely express their interest, concern and investment in your well-being. They listen, follow up and push you where you need to be pushed. They also know when not to push; they care enough to know when you can't handle one more thing.
2. Let go of habits that mean well however; incite unnecessary stress.
For the first year of my business, I would check the point of sales system almost hourly to see how much money we made. It became so routine, I was barely thinking when I clicked the app. However, each time that I did, I would literally feel my pressure rise.
My therapist at the time suggested that I check it less frequently. Initially, I thought, that‘s irresponsible. However, after yet another day made miserable by low sales, I asked myself: what’s the most responsible thing to do for my own mental and soul health? I stopped and never looked back.
3. Be mindful of your social media engagement.
Community, I’m so sorry to say, social media is a problem. And, I'm not saying this because I absolutely hate social media and in all honesty, am a very public failure at it (lol...I don't even care anymore). I'm serious.
If you’re not careful who you follow, you’ll definitely find yourself surrounded by the most perfect people, with the most perfect lives with a few challenges sprinkled here and there however; all of which end with a perfect bow. No good and I don’t even have to say why.
We all experience jealousy. Some of us will be motivated by it while others, like myself, will have suppressed insecurities triggered in the worst way. I’m not petty when I mute those pages. Nor am I hating. I’m smart, I’m loving and I’m on the path to inner peace.
Mute. Unfollow. Delete. Do what you must to thrive and don't judge any of it!
4. Set goals and stick to them (loosely):
You've heard me talk about my journal practice of listing determinations about every three days. I literally end the list with "intentional living. asé."
I don’t hold myself to crossing every single item off the list; that’s not my definition of self-care.
Setting and sticking to goals (loosely) is important. Doing so affords a sense of purpose, reinforces self-worth and builds confidence. Each time I cross something off, it's a reminder "I am capable" and "I am worth" the effort. However, the unchecked goals are also important. They tell a full story about what I'm not prioritizing.
Being curious about the ones I haven't checked off invites me to reflect and redirect if necessary. In the end, even when I have more unchecked than checked, I feel powerful and in control. The point is to control as much of your life as you ‘sanely’ can rather than being controlled.
5. Remember that you have options:
There was a time when I would stress over every little thing until I had a conversation with my Co-Ruler, Cenita Williamson. Cenita and I couldn’t be more different; it’s actually laughable. However, we’ve somehow made it work for the past 21 years. She’s calm and poised while I’m feverish and irreverent.
Like me, she owns a small business in Newark, NJ; a European Wax Center. We spend a lot of time reflecting on what it means to be Black, female, mother, wife, working full-time in addition to being a small business owner. Specifically, we talk about our very different approach to managing both the work and stress.
One day, rising from my own sense of dread from mounting debt, I asked if she was intimidated by the financial liability associated with entrepreneurship? In typical balanced and confident Cenita fashion, she responded “no, I have options.”
Game changer. She was so right. Why stress when there are options? Now, it can be argued that that's a privileged posture to take; some of us do not have options. To be honest, I wrote an entire journal entry about choice being a byproduct of privilege and how sweet that must be. That’s until I realized that shutting down is an option.
Abandoning the notion that this "has" to work or it's the end of the world, freed me. Instead of fearing the end, I remember that I have as many choices as I can be creative, courageous and vulnerable to imagine. And folx, that list of options does include shutting down if necessary. I can make that decision and choose me.
These are definitely wild times. We all need a concrete plan to make it through whole and healed. Cenita is doing push-ups pyramid style. I'll leave her to it as I spend time stretching and trying new yoga poses. Self-care is about you so, please take what resonates and leave the rest. Be well. If possible, stay home. Stay safe.