By Tekita Bankhead
It’s 6:15 am. My first of 3 alarms start to blare, and for a second I wonder if I really need my job. But of course, bills, sis. Then, I start to calculate just how many more minutes of dreaming I can squeeze in before my tardiness is just plain ol’ ridiculous. Instead of hopping up at the first alarm, I’m scrolling through my Instagram, checking my e-mails, tracking packages because I spend too much time on Amazon and Sephora, and pretending to plan my day in my head. Just about every sleep article in the world reassures me that my typical morning routine is about as wrong as I can get. However, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. God ain’t through with me yet, and he’s got time for you, too! Hallelu!
One reason we often find ourselves so reluctant to start our day is that we haven’t infused enough feel-good restorative moments throughout that would give us something to look forward to. As my work and personal schedules get busier, I’m finding that I have to not only be more intentional in practicing self-care, but I also have to start acknowledging the boost I can get from even the smallest gestures. When my initial obsession with self-care began, I, along with everyone else in the world, started to turn to retail therapy, lavish getaway trips, and a commitment to a life of self-indulgence. Then self-care started to make some of us broke. While others might have had mismatched success; sure, we had a bomb gel manicure, but we still spent some evenings crying in our bubble baths. That’s not to say that any of these methods of self-care are inherently bad, but moderation is key (and cost-efficient). Here are a few strategies that I’ve been trying and getting great results from:
This has easily been one of the most eye-opening and empowering self-care strategies I have used to date. I’ve been basking in my single season for a few years, and with that, has come a lot more time to work on myself. Eating right, journaling, unleashing and unlearning. What I realized is that I had also subconsciously been putting my “sexy” behaviors, like creating an intimate evening, lighting candles, or wearing lingerie, on the back burner. I assumed that I should save that for the next lucky guy in my life. One day, I had the jolting revelation, that I had a full collection of sexy panties, bras, and outfits in my possession that I was saving for someone else. Hell, why couldn’t I be the lucky one? I had surely paid enough! So, I challenged myself for a week to break the seal on several sets of brand-new, unworn lingerie and just wear them on regular days. Maybe, I’m late the game on this, but you could not tell me anything that week, baybeh! I had a pep in my step, an umph, a je ne sais quoi that made a world of difference in how I felt. Why the hell was I saving this feeling to please someone else? So, if you do nothing else, I challenge you to wear your pretty panties just for yourself one day.
Over the last year, listening to podcasts has easily become one of my favorite things to do every day. I love all kinds of podcasts, but I tend to focus on Black podcasts that center on pop culture (The Read is my fave!), mental health, and Black women. For a list of some of my favorites, be sure to check out the Polishing Your Pedestal section of our site. Podcasts are an ideal self-care technique, especially if you are an introvert, if your socializing fuel tank is on “E,” or if you simply enjoy learning on the go. I find that they are soothing, relaxing, and uplifting. To me, podcasts almost feel like I’m eavesdropping on a great conversation with strangers who understand my experiences, but it’s not awkward or creepy. Definitely, don’t eavesdrop on strangers in real life, though; you might get caught up!
Self-care is often talked about in the sense of mental health, but optimal health is a holistic concept that involves managing wellness in a multifaceted way. Therapy is great, and I’m a HUGE proponent of receiving therapy if possible. However, mental health is heavily affected by every other part of your well-being. Have you had your annual check-up with your primary care doctor? Have you gone to the local clinic for contraceptives or condoms? Have you seen your OB/GYN for STI testing and a pap smear? That dental cleaning, that eye exam, that lab work you’ve been putting off? Make some time to get it done. I absolutely understand that everyone does not have the access or means to receive comprehensive health care services, but if you are fortunate, be sure you are making your overall health a priority. Block off time in your schedule to attend to all of your needs first.
One thing is for sure about me– I’m a sucker for anything that smells good! A perfume, a room, a nicely groomed bearded man…I digress. In recent years, not only have I learned the power of making my personal spaces look good, but there’s even more power in making spaces smell good. I am a huge fan of essential oil diffusers (I even give them as gifts often), and people are usually amazed at how much a scent combination can do to help boost your psyche. Whether I’m using a lemongrass & eucalyptus blend to be productive at work or a lavender & vanilla blend to help me fall asleep, the possibilities are absolutely endless. And affordable too! I pay about $12 on average for my diffusers, and my oils range from $4 to $20 dollars. I strongly suggest investing in one. If oils aren’t your thing, I would also suggest another personal favorite of mine, palo santo! According to the Energy Muse Blog, “Palo Santo is a sacred wood that comes from the magical Palo Santo tree, native to the coast of South America. Its name literally means holy wood, and it is just that. When it is burned, the smoke is believed to have both medicinal and therapeutic healing power.” And I’m a witness! If you love burning sage or incense, this might also be a great option for you too! You can also find these on Amazon.
I hope these strategies have broadened your perspective on what self-care has to look like for you. It doesn’t have to be lavish. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t even have to require you stepping foot outside of your house. It simply has to work for you.
Tekita Bankhead is the Creator and Editor-In-Chief of the Pedestal Project, LLC.