Everyday Self Care
Posted on September 7, 2021
This is a positive health update and potentially an unpopular PSA to make self care part of our daily lives. To be clear, self care (not selfish care) is building self and collective resilience every single day.
First, the update. As I wrote in March, I have been struggling with hemi-facial spasms for the last 18 months. The spasms were 2-8 minutes at a time and sometimes 4-5x an hour.
It impaired my vision and slurred my speech. It was annoying at best and there were times I wanted the day to end so I could go to sleep.
Being trained as an organizer, I dug in deep and treated this as a campaign (for and on myself). I analyzed the conditions, mapped out my short and medium term goals and assessed what would shift… me. I was the organizer and a key target.
I set my intentions, shared with my family and community for support and accountability and launched my campaign with gradual escalation tactics.
I slowly changed my diet, cut coffee, started exercising 2-3x a week, did acupuncture, and began to get decent and regular sleep, which allowed me to recover and re-generate.
I also honed in on my joy, purpose and best contribution in all facets of my life.
Like many things, there were ebbs and flows. The change was slow and often very subtle. Sometimes it felt like nothing was changing.
Then, a month and a half ago I started seeing a homeopath and started on a remedy. At first, it felt very “woo woo” but slowly after a few weeks, I started noticing a difference. Last week, I woke up with no spasms (like for 20 minutes!) I was like WOOHOO!!
But seriously, the spasms are now 10-30 seconds at a time, although still throughout the day. Regardless, I feel SO much better. Last week, I took it to the next level and started cranial and sacral therapy.
There are no guarantees to all this but we need to remember to celebrate the little and big wins in life.
What is the bigger lesson here?
Many of us are trained in western ways to address problems. Our own healing and care is no different. For example, when we get tired, sick or burnout, we take time off and step away until we get better.
This is totally needed for immediate relief but this often gets conflated with “self care.”
Self care is not just urgent and immediate care; it is long lasting care and sustainability, which requires individual, collective, and systemic approaches. From the Black Panthers and Audre Lourde to the disability justice community, self care is not a new concept.
We need to shift from individual, short term, episodic care to more collective and on-going care into our everyday lives. There is (western) illusion that we can “heal” completely and then get back to it. Have you ever said, “I’m feeling 100% better!”? I know I have!
Under this system of capitalism (and all the systems of oppression) it should not be a surprise that most if not all of us are experiencing chronic pain and illnesses (visible or not, felt or not).
With COVID, widening gaps in poverty, war, hurricanes, fires, police and community violence, you name it, we feeling it! (not all evenly, of course.)
Mark-Anthony Clayton-Johnson from Frontline Wellness Network and Dignity and Power Now said it best the other day. He said that, “The system distributes trauma and harm by design and the distribution of harm has a relationship to the organizations we’re trying to create.”
He then went on and said something along the lines that healing justice is not a separate track but part of our everyday practice.
It was deep! It reminded me how we also need systemic ways to address our health and wellness. From material changes in society and cultural changes in our movement to building another world, we need it all.
Less is More but How?
Meanwhile, if the system is designed to harm us every day, how do we build in self care into our everyday practice? When I’m overworked and exhausted, I have this urge to “leave” or “escape,” which again creates much needed space to address immediate issues.
But as my jedi generative somatic therapist would always say to me, “it is not so much “yes or no”, “do or don’t” but really, HOW and WHY?” (Caps are my emphasis)
Like many of you, the last 18 months, I didn’t “stop” working or parenting. In fact, I probably worked and parented more!! I was just waaaaay more intentional and purposeful in almost every unit of labor and in all my relations. Even a simple action of reminding me, “Why am I doing this again?”
None of this is supposed to be perfect, in fact flaws are part of the design BUT it does need to be as purposeful as possible. Being purposeful is the path to doing less.
All these shifts are slight and gradual but in the end everyday self care is also our community care. It is the margin of victory for our own sustainability, the people around us, our community and movement.
The final PSA is to remember to be kind to yourself and each other. Let’s do this. We gotta another world to build.