You’re waking up, covered in cold sweat… when you manage to sleep. Your comfort food is no longer comforting. You’re feeling rage welling up inside of you every time you hear someone making “clever” puns out of Black Lives Matter.
In light of that, a mani pedi doesn’t seem all that useful as a form of self care.
As someone who works with health for a living, self care is a hugely important topic for me. It’s a fundamental necessity for being a body owner. And while that includes all the “typical” forms of self care: you know, the ones that you’ll see on the front of a magazine or in a listicle — get a massage, go for a run, and of course, the all-important “me time” — they’re also privileged versions of self care.
They’re the kind that can happen when we’re living normal lives, when our basic needs for food, water, shelter, and safety are met, when we’re simply overburdened by stressors that are part and parcel of busy lives.
But for so many of us, “normal” hasn’t been normal for a long time now.
The way things are going right now may feel incredibly heavy to you. You may feel as if you have no control. Like efforts you are making are having zero impact. You might be feeling like you want to give up. You may already have. So many of us are suffering from these feelings of hopelessness in the present era of open hatred and bigotry. And though some of us have taken it as a call to arms, some of us just don’t have the energy to pick up a weapon of choice and battle.
When the bottom drops out of your daily life, when your situation is FUBARed, when you’re suffering, you need a totally different type of self care.
It’s in these times that your self care practices have to change. You don’t need rest and rejuvenation. These things feel hollow and useless. In these times you need to resort to basic maintenance self care.
Basic maintenance self care is the kind of self care where what you are doing is serving your basic needs of food, water, shelter, and safety. The things that keep you and your life together.
This means that you need to make sure you’re able to eat and drink. Be that through actual trips to the grocery store where you stock up on microwave meals and nonperishable items, or survive off the reliability of Chinese food delivery.
Nutritional value does not matter right now, sustenance does.
This means that you need to make sure you’re paying your rent. That you’re going to work. That you’re cashing your checks. That you’re paying your bills.
Ambition can take a back seat for now. It will be there when you’re ready again.
This means that you might need to stay off social media or avoid reading and watching the news. This means that you might need to temporarily stay with a friend so that you’re not always alone. This means you may need to answer that call from your mom even though you may not want to.
Because we all need some kind of connection, as devoid of stress as possible.
This might mean your goal of the day is to take a shower.
It might mean setting boundaries with those closest to you.
It might mean asking for help.
It might mean taking the help that is offered.
You have to try to keep yourself together as best you can because, as the medieval Sufi poets said, “This, too, shall pass.”
There is another chapter to be written after all of the dust is settled, and I want you to be there on the other side.
So find your small action and execute it with whatever you have available to you.
Let’s all continue to move forward together.