silhouette of friends looking at sunset, arms raised, making hearts with hands

There’s a post that went viral on Facebook in 2019 and has since been floating around on the interwebs and was the topic of many blog posts. It was a quote from Nakita Valerio that said, “Shouting “self-care” at people who actually need “community care” is how we fail people.”

Even though I make a living working in social media and spend a lot of time thinking about both self-care and care of others, I only recently saw this quote and it resonated with me. Knowing nothing about the circumstances from which this quote arose, I placed it in my own context. One of the things I have learned this week (or maybe was reminded of this week) is that though doing things and creating habits to support my own physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental well-being, trying to do this all on my own will only get me so far. We are made to be connected and relational beings, in community with others. We are meant to share our experiences, partly so we can know that we are not alone but also so because we are made to journey together, to learn together, and to encourage each other along the way.

This week, I let people know not just that I needed help, but what that help was. I asked for time off from work, I asked for others to give more support to my mom so I could focus on my family, I found a social worker to help me create new strategies and tools to cope with my ongoing and stressful circumstances. I want to be the person that does it all, but even self-care is not a solitary endeavor. As they say, it takes a village. But the village won’t know how to help unless we tell them.

So that’s how I interpreted this quote, but in doing research, I found out that Valerio was speaking about something different. She was speaking up about the reasons that self-care is difficult, if not impossible in some cases, for women of color who are often caring for parents, children, and working. And though I too am in the sandwich of caring for kids and mother, I have many advantages that others do not. I can take time away from work and it not affect my family’s day-to-day. I can attend yoga classes, practice meditation in my quiet yoga room inside my home, I can buy the organic foods and grass-fed beef, even if they are not on sale this week. Still, at the end of the day, I need the support of my community to care for myself. Just like everyone else.

My support needs may look different than yours, but we are the same in needing one another. We are not alone. We are all in need of wholeness and wellness. We are all worthy of it. My hope is that I can be a part of or even help create a community of care. One that cares for one another and supports endeavors of self-care and wellness. What if we committed to being for one another, committed to coming together for the common goal of caring; giving care to our community and ourselves?

self care idea, facial
self care idea, facial
Taking time for self-care is important, especially for caregivers.

Have you ever gone for that pedicure or massage and felt like it was more work to get the “free time” to do it than it should be? By the time you make sure the kids are taken care of, your family is all squared away, the house has been managed, the ducks are in a row…you’re running out of the house and promising you’ll be back soon. Then, you finally get your “you-time” and you can’t relax. Guilt, amiright?

Why is it that we, as busy moms and caregivers, feel so guilty about taking a little time for ourselves, about taking CARE of ourselves? After all, sometimes it’s not just about guilt over the massage or pedicure, it’s about cooking the foods that are best for YOU, taking time to exercise in a way that makes you feel good, doing something you enjoy just for the sake of doing it. Though these seem like small things, they are part of what self-care means, but that is not all it means.

Self-care for caregivers isn’t an activity, it’s a regular practice. I might even say, a mindset. What would happen to your energy level, your stress level, your sense of peace, if you took the time to take care of yourself every day? What if you even prioritized it over taking care of others.

I know, this sounds inconceivable. I hardly can even believe I just typed it, but what if? How could taking care of yourself help your relationship with others, your ability to care for, and give care to your loved ones?

This is a hard thing to ponder, but I think it’s worth exploring. When we are at our best physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, how we experience and cope with our circumstances, how we interact with our family and friends, how we care for others is bound to be better. Caregiving is life-giving, especially when we start with ourselves.

What are your thoughts on self-care for caregivers? How are you incorporating self-care into your routine?