Practising Self-Care as an Act of Resistance
By Emily Kennedy, Carleton University
As women, we are taught by our patriarchal society to be passive, to nurture, to give all of ourselves and to expect nothing in return. Feminists have made it so that loving one’s self, and taking care of one’s self, rather than caring for others or seeking the approval of others, is revolutionary. Despite self-care becoming an increasingly popular and widely practiced notion, it is surprisingly difficult to do. I, for one, struggle everyday to prioritize myself. It has become second nature to check in on others to make sure they are ok, but I rarely check-in with myself. Since I have started exploring feminism, I have also started exploring myself, my self-care routine, and my struggles with it. I have learned to practice it with more precision.
Self-care, in case you are unfamiliar, is essentially about taking care of ourselves both emotionally and physically, without attaching shame to this practice. I have often thought about how my struggles are not that important, are lesser in comparison to others, and therefore time spent on myself would take away resources from those who need it more. This is dangerous thinking. Everyone has struggles, and everyone needs support. People with intersecting marginalized identities need mental health services and health care needs to address the needs of all people, not just those that are privileged. Hence, additional services should be in place for people with specific needs. Whatever your subjectivities may be, you are worthy, and you deserve to be healthy and happy through practicing self-care.
I have made a list of my top ten self-care techniques. Everyone is different, so these techniques may or may not work for you. The good news is that this list is not exhaustive. There are so many ways to care of one’s self and so many things you can try. The ultimate goal at the end of the day is to make sure you feel energized, alive, content, well, and fulfilled:
Take a walk. My favourite thing to do is walk by the water on campus. I like to start at Loeb building and walk along the Canal towards the back of Nesbitt and end up under the graffiti bridge by the water. For the ultimate self-care goal, I meditate while I walk. I love being in nature and the endorphins released during the exercise makes me feel rejuvenated.
Listen to music. I love music. Whether at a concert, dancing in my living room, singing while I clean, or just laying in bed and letting the music take hold of me; music heals me so much.
Writing. I write poetry and song lyrics, but even writing stories, character profiles, blogs or journaling allows me to express all the thoughts on my mind and clear my head. To me, it is cathartic process that I use to formulate my thoughts and express my emotions.
Going to the movies. I like movies at home as well, but there is something about buying a ticket, getting snacks, sitting in a dark theatre on comfy seats and getting completely engrossed into a film that makes me so happy.
Cuddling with my mom. Admittedly, this is easy for me since I live at home, but cuddles with any person (or animal) you trust and love can give you the support and affection you need. As long as I feel loved and able to be vulnerable, the cuddle works for me.
Long baths. Once a week to every two weeks I try to have a nice warm bath as a way to relax my muscles and soothe my body.
Baking. The repetitive, step-by-step, structured aspect of baking is super satisfying to me. Add in quality time with a loved one and creative decoration and I am on self-care cloud nine!
Drawing or reading. When I was younger, I would doodle and draw clothes. Now, I like to draw people and make up their lives in my head. Reading allows me to explore new worlds. Colouring is also a well-known therapeutic technique.
Watch familiar movies and television. Re-watching Harry Potter or binge watching One Tree Hill (again) gives me feelings of safety, familiarity, and nostalgia that I need.
Time with friends. Whether playing board games, grabbing lunch or talking over tea and coffee, my friends help me see things clearly and listen to me. I try to designate once a week to doing something fun with at least one friend. Social support is essential.
As Audre Lorde once stated, “self-care is an act of political warfare.” We are all worthy, we are all important, and we all deserve to be happy and healthy. We deserve to love ourselves. Self-care allows women and other marginalized groups to say and recognize that they matter, and that they are not going anywhere.