Published in the Fall 2012 issue • In web :: D.I.Y.
Self-Care DIY: A How-To Just for You
Community organizer and yoga instructor Kim Crosby give us the much-needed lowdown on self-care.
Self-care is the act of intentionally and unintentionally engaging in thoughts and actions that have positive and affirming impacts on our mind, body and spirit. It looks different for everyone based on preference, culture and lived experience. It can change depending on our ages, our location, even the season. Self-care is one of the most valuable activities that we can engage in. It keeps us resilient and able to take care of others in a world that is hard on us.
As folks who are living at the intersections of many different experiences of oppression — queer, trans, gender non-conforming, people of colour, disabilities, class — self-care is more than just a practice, it is an act of resistance.
The rate of substance abuse in our communities is often very high and there are complex reasons behind this that include needing to cope through unreasonable circumstances. I do want to be clear that there is no shame in 'coping'. Drugs and alcohol can be used in ways that are empowering and in ways that are disempowering. As a community, we have to be careful not to pass judgment on the ways in which we take care of ourselves and manage our trauma. We need to be supportive of each other to make decisions for ourselves in ways that are affirming as opposed to believing that we can or should be making decisions for each other.
We need to be able to create more spaces to learn about each other's stories and work together in order to address the systems of advantage that shame genderqueer folks when they go see a doctor, the same system that doesn't include education for and by First Nations people in our curriculum and the same system that disproportionately incarcerates people of color. We have to recognize that responses to this sick system can range from anger to suicide and when there are negative consequences it is not the fault of those who have been victimized by it, it's is not that we are not strong enough, but rather that we have been strong for too long.
We need to be proud that we got up in the morning, proud when we take a self-care day to stay home from work, proud when you supported a friend and proud when you recognized your boundaries and knew that you couldn't support a single person. Self-care is a process that is affected by everything around us, it looks more like a wavy line as opposed to a straight line.
It is from this place of affirmation of our intrinsic value, it is from a place of acknowledging that as author, teacher and feminist, Alexis Pauline Gumbs says, “you don't have to do nothing to be loved” that I want us to reconsider self-care. These divisions are for the most part arbitrary and things that are under the 'mind' category could just as easily fall under the 'body' category and the all flow between each other.
For me, self-care is a way to transform my entire experience of life. Time passes by much more slowly, my gaze turns from outwards to inwards, and I am able to identify the standards I need others to meet when they want to express care.
We should start devoting time to take care of ourselves as young as possible, regardless of the resources we have access to. As a yoga teacher, I always remind my students that sometimes all we have is our breath. Meaning, sometimes, we might not have money or space, we might have too much work and not enough time, but we can definitely take deep breaths. Even the most simple of actions can be self-care.
Feel free to organize and plan out your self-care strategies in whatever way feels right.