Self-Care and Community Care
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation.” This quote by Audrey Lorde illustrates that self-care is not selfish; in fact, it is necessary to survive and thrive. When you think of self-care, what comes to mind? Bubble baths, massages, or other “social media-worthy” and glamorous activities that have been marketed to us as what we “should” do? The truth is that self-care is any accessible activity that tends to our emotional, physical, mental, social, intellectual, or play needs and aligns with our values.
True self-care is driven by alignment with our values. If our primary value at the moment is community or connection, we can prioritize quality time with our support system and loved ones. If we feel inclined to focus on creativity, we can shift towards engaging with more artistic expression. Self-care also involves checking in with our bodies to gain information about our needs. Ask yourself if there are any areas surrounding your mind, body, spirit, and heart that need more nurturing. Perhaps you have been taking exceptional care of your physical health by guaranteeing you receive quality sleep and nutrition; nevertheless, your sense of play may need additional attention. Building awareness about what your current needs and values are – and modifying when needed – allows for the development of a self-care practice that is attuned to you.
Ethics of Self-Care
Self-care as an ethical issue is two-fold; when we are unable to care for ourselves, we’re not able to show up for others in our lives or fulfill our responsibilities. A crucial part of taking care of ourselves is setting boundaries, saying no, and knowing when to ask for help. In addition, self-care is not always accessible. Although self-care activities do not have to be rooted in capitalism and can include deep breathing or walking outside, factors such as time, space, and energy determine how accessible self-care practices are to various groups of people. We must establish that self-care is not used as a “bandaid” fix for systemic issues and oppression. The onus of responsibility for having the time, space, and energy to engage in such practices should not fall solely on the individual. There are structural issues that must be addressed as the root cause of trauma, depression, anxiety, stress, and other symptomologies. Sometimes we must also recognize that self-care is simply not enough, especially for marginalized communities. Therefore, when self-care is discussed it is also vital to include community care in the conversation.
We are meant to survive and thrive in community; our connection to others through relationships ensures we are able to mutually show up for one another, grow, and heal. When one person within a community is struggling or needs to take a step back, the rest of the community can step forward and integrate in order to fill in the gaps and provide necessary care and support. Mental health resources are an example of needed community care. At Embrace Therapy, we want to partner with you as part of your support system and community care team. Please reach out to us with any questions as well as access to quality mental health services.