Oxford dictionary defines rest as cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.
Rest is an intentional and necessary slowing down to care for ourselves. It includes nurturing our physical bodies, mental wellbeing, and our internal growth and development. We accomplish this rest and uncover peace through simple practices that centers us in the present, like sleeping or napping, eating our favorite meals, enjoying nature, bathing, stretching, meditating, journaling, singing, learning a new skill, or hobby, reading, listening to music we enjoy, dancing and even gardening.
Engaging in any of these activities positively affects our physical bodies directly informing mental and emotional wellbeing. Expressing joy fights feelings of stress and pain, promotes a healthy lifestyle, boosts the immune system and boosters longevity and vitality. And all of these benefits are crucial especially for Black people, whose life expectancy rates in the United States are second lowest to Native Americans.
Unplugging from commitments, and social media are among the few ways to begin our healing work. Practicing self-care with ourselves regularly allows us to extend our internal empathy outwards to those in our community, aiding them in their healing process. When we are in tuned with our needs and self-growth, it better equips us to set boundaries with the people and systems that influence us. Through self-care and self-understanding , we become better advocates for our own needs and desires, both immediate and existential. We must be willing to change behaviors to position ourselves for growth and community revitalization.
“Caring for myself is not self- indulge, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare,” (Audre Lorde)
Connect with things that bring you joy. Ask yourself what you want and what you need right now, now advocate for it.
- Do you need a break from work? Can you ask for time-off or adjust your schedule? If not see if you could use your paid time off (PTO)?
- Is it time for you to explore therapy? Do you need a support group of your peers?
- Do you want to check in by text messages and phone calls from friends and co-workers?
Understand what you need from people that are around you and make sure you communicate it. Create boundaries for yourself of what works specifically for you. Setting adequate rest and taking breaks throughout the day., practicing gratitude, spending time with loves ones, engaging in activities that foster a sense of community, staying physically active, and limiting social media and news intake. Here are some things that my family and friends have said and done for me that saved my soul.
“Self-care looks like protecting your time and sanity. It can be walking away from a conversations that don’t serve you. It is about prioritizing your mental health and peace.” -Minnie Lester-Williams
- “Girl, I got you like I know you got me.”
- “You don’t need to carry everything for everybody.”
- “God’s got you and I do , too.”
- “Find that next breath and take it. That’s all you have to do right now.”
- “Girl, sit on down. For real. Sit. Breath.”
- “Let some things fix themselves, sis.”
- It’s okay to take the ‘S’ off your cheat, Superwoman.”
- “Chile, take a nap!”
- “He ain’t finished with yet.”
- “I believe in you.”
Strength is knowing that it is okay to be fragile sometimes. – Minnie Lester-Williams
Be sure to give yourself all the self-care you need and remember it is important to live as your healthiest, happiest self. Look after your mental health and do not feel guilty for putting yourself first.