Day 18: Self-Care
Happy Eighteenth Day of Thanks Everyone!
“For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.” Ephesians 5:29
I give thanks for self-care and the recognition that we all need to take the necessary time to replenish ourselves, nurture ourselves and address the neglected areas of our lives.
One of the best and worst things about being on lockdown in the middle of a pandemic is that one can easily neglect the beautification rituals that were once done, and often required, to work within an office space or interact with people outside. Due to store closings, no manicure or pedicure treatments were available; no haircuts or hair styling, unless self-done, were happening; no spa time or massages were occurring either. With the added responsibilities of remote learning and continuously having a child or children at one’s helm, I’m sure many parents, like myself, have had very little time to address emotional, mental and physical needs to maintain or sustain one’s sanity.
I am so guilty of all this neglect.
I am almost embarrassed to admit this but a few months into lock down, having walked on the floor of my house without any socks or slippers on, the soles of my feet looked like I had been walking in a desert or laboring in crop fields without any shoes for centuries. They were so dry and compounded with layers of dead skin, I immediately invested in a home pedicure set so that I could handle my business. I have never seen my feet look like that a day in my life and knew something needed to be done. I couldn’t let myself “go” like that!
When it comes to my hair, I can probably be considered a very low maintenance person. I wash it, oil it, retwist it and occasionally style it. I don’t subject my hair to any harmful chemicals or unnecessary heat. Although I may wash it more often, I usually retwist my locks about once every 6 to 8 weeks. During the lockdown, in addition to my foot care being neglected, I had this bright idea to leave my dredlocks untwisted for months. I figured since I was staying in the house and have tons of beautiful headwraps, I could just wash and dry them and let them live freely. Bad idea! When I finally decided to retwist my hair, I had at least 3.5 inches of new growth in every lock and about three huge knotty dreds in my head.
I was shaking my head at myself, thinking “was that really your bright idea? You are now going to have to spend more time and do more work to get this hair done!” It took me 4.5 hours to retwist my hair, which is more than twice the normal time it would have taken me to do it. I also had to use other methods to twist my hair, since there was so much new growth. Let’s just say, I will not be waiting that long for a retwist ever again. Although I started to complain about the new growth of hair and all the work required to twist it, one of my friends reminded me to be grateful that I even had hair growing on my head. (Thank you for that lesson of gratitude!) How quickly did I forgot the many times I saw several of my friends struggle with alopecia or who were cancer patients wishing for hair on their heads!
Isn’t it always so interesting, though, how seemingly little things and consistent rituals, can lift one’s spirit? After all that time and energy spent wanting to complain about retwisting my hair, I can truly say that I am so happy I did it. It looks good and I feel great, as if a weight has been lifted from me. The time spent was well spent, because I nourished myself and took care of me for a moment in time.
Throughout the lockdown, after I put Lilah to bed, no matter what time, I created at least a 30 min to 1 hour window to have “me time.” That time was spent either reading a book or my Bible, listening to music or a sermon, writing or crafting and conversing with God. It was also my quiet time and a time of solace. I knew that if I didn’t replenish myself, I would not be able to balance the many responsibilities I had and be all-consumed by Lilah’s needs as well.
This pandemic has not only taught me the premises of selfcare but it’s also taught me that, some days, I just need to take a break. So, I do just that. I don’t feel guilty for slowing down, addressing my needs, and making sure that I am okay. There were many times in my life that I was taught and trained to neglect me, my needs, my desires so that others would be okay. But, I realize that I cannot give to anyone if I am empty. I need to do selfcare. We all need to do selfcare to ensure our survival.
Today, as we give thanks for selfcare, I invite you to donate or volunteer with the organization, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), https://www.nami.org/Home, whose mission is to help better the lives of people living with or dealing with mental illness.
Have a Great Days of Thanks!