Some Wisdom 2020 Forced On Me

When I used to think of self-care, I thought of face masks, bath robes, sparkling water, and Netflix. For so long, the materialistic elements of self-care defined its value for me. But this long year has taught me to be gentler, and the pandemic has forever changed the way I take care of myself. Now, I don’t need an expensive bath robe and lavender face mask to feel like I am relaxing. I can just lay on the couch and close my eyes to give myself a break. For me, self-care looks like crawling up on my bed in fetal position after a long day of work, and this experience is essential. Simply doing nothing is self-care.

The trauma of the past year has made one thing clear to me: we are not obligated to react with action when we hear disturbing news. Instead, it is important to provide ourselves with the space to reflect. The space to do nothing.

In my own struggle, I have made an effort to stay busy so that I don’t have to think about the current state of our nation. Yet, no matter how hard I try, I am forced to face the awful news of what happened in Atlanta, GA, when 8 innocent people died — 6 of whom were Asian women. As an Asian woman myself, I tried to make sense of the news. I put it into the context of my own experiences — thinking of the microaggressions I had endured and what those added to my understanding of this tragedy. My thoughts drove my fear to another level.

After sitting in my fear, I finally made myself read the full news story. I thought of what a privilege that was, to be able to read about the tragic news and not have to live it. Yet, in the context that I described, the tragedy was still overwhelming, and I pushed myself to follow a self-care routine. I went to the kitchen and poured myself a glass of foggy ice water. Then, I went to my bed and scrunched up in fetal position. After an hour of listening to the sound of cars passing on the street and my radiator banging, I decided to get up to take a shower and brush my teeth before bed. Giving myself permission to feel and time to heal. These moments of mundane routine help me to build my resilience.

To those of you reading today who might feel guilty for calling on your self-care routines amidst all the trauma our nation grieves: I encourage you to recognize that feeling and healing is crucial. For me, that is what self-care is all about. Seek the resources you need, whether that be community, conversation, or material goods, but do not forget the self-care power you hold just as yourself.

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