Besides the constant talks of maintaining our mental heal, self-care is the next topic that’s all the buzz amongst millennials these days on social media. The popular hashtag has been overused and misunderstood for a while now. When most of us think of self-care, we think of expensive pedicures, Instagram worthy vacations, and things we just can’t afford to do regularly. What I’ve realized is that self-care is not as complicated as people make out to be. It could be so simple. Self-care is so much more than bubble baths and pedicures. It’s about doing the things that bring you joy. The simple things. As I get older I’m learning that self-care is such a necessary part of my well-being. I have to be intentional about making it happen often in order to continue to pour into others. So here are a few ways that apply self-care on a daily basis.

Keep up with doctor appointments

This may not sound very hashtag worthy, but going to the doctor, dentist, and even my therapist regularly are so necessary and count as self-care for me. In years past, I’ve slacked off in this area and paid the price a few times. I always made it a priority to keep up with my children’s appointments and have always kept them up to date, but I slacked with maintaining my own health. Now, I make sure to schedule every doctor’s appointment and make room on my calendar no matter what’s going on so that I can maintain my health.

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Work out

Most days I dread going to the gym or doing any type of physical activity for that matter. But, once I get in my groove and start to break a sweat, it feels so good! I get to clear my mind, blast my music, and feel good about taking care of my body all at once. This also counts as my “me time.” You can never get enough of “me-time.” Just like going to the doctor, working out along with eating right is so good for your body.

Stream my favorite series or movie

When the kids are asleep, that’s my time to hop in bed or on the sofa and binge my favs like This Is Us or whatever Netflix original is poppin at the time. Last night I stayed up and watched Stepbrothers. I haven’t seen that movie in years and it’s definitely not kid-appropriate. I love being able to zone out for a little while and not have to think about bills or what I’m cooking for dinner. I put my phone and my laptop away and just enjoy the moment.

Woman take a shower

Take my shower before the kids

Lately, I’ve been saying that I’ve graduated in parenthood because my kids are at a good age now where I can leave them unattended for extended periods of time and know they’ll still be alive when I come back. In just a few months they’ll be 7 and 10 years old. So, I’ve been taking full advantage of that. Rather than being the last person to bathe at the end of the night, I occasionally hop in front of the line and take my time in the shower. Southern California hasn’t gotten the memo that it’s actually fall, so the whole no-shave November thing was a bust. I finally shaved my legs the other night and I feel like a brand new woman. LOL I’ll turn on a little music and strip away all of the stress of the day before I get into full “mommy mode” for the night. This gives me a little private time for myself and allows me to decompress so I can give my kids the best part of me. When I get out I’m relaxed and all cleaned up. It’s just a good feeling to be able to take care of myself for a few minutes before the storm or dinner, homework, and everything in between comes along.

Eat my favorite foods without interruption

If you’re a mom, you should know the feeling all too well of not being able to fully enjoy a meal in peace, let alone a snack. I’m down to the point where I purposely buy foods I know my daughters don’t eat, so they won’t ask me for them. The struggle is so real in my kitchen. So, being able to eat my favorite foods in peace is part of my self-care routine. I wait until the girls head to bed and sneak off to the kitchen and devour a few scoops of Talenti Gelato before going to bed myself. This is not an everyday habit, which makes it even sweeter.

Jam to my favorite music, listen to an audiobook, or podcast

I create playlists for myself that each fit for the mood I’m in. Jamming to my favorite songs at the gym, in the car, or even while cleaning the house helps me to decompress and destress while just enjoying the moment. I also love to listen to podcasts and audiobooks to pass the time. I enjoy listening to other people’s stories and perspectives and just being motivated in general. Because I’m always on the go, listening to a good podcast or audiobook is so ideal for me.

woman writing in a notebook

Write my heart out

No matter the mood I’m in, writing is always self-care. Sometimes I take my time and jot things down in my journal, while most times I’m writing on the go in a Google Doc or on my notes app on my phone. I may write about how I’m feeling that day, or write a few affirmations to keep me going through the day. Writing is a great release for me and I suggest it for anyone whether you’re a writer or not.

Affirm myself in the mirror

You ever pass by the mirror and say “Damn! I’m Fine!?” No?…just me? Cool. Well, I do this ALL the time. I look in the mirror and I tell myself just how amazing I am. I could be fully clothed heading out to work or naked only covered in my stretch marks and scars. Either way, I appreciate my body and myself for what it is and who I am. Now that’s self-care! Sometimes I’ll take a stick of red lipstick and write words of affirmation on our mirrors or jot down those words on sticky notes. I’ll place them through the house, in my car, or carry them in my purse. My girls love to join in on this too. When I affirm myself, I affirm them as well.

These are just a few, but not all of the many ways that apply self-care in my everyday life. How do you show yourself some love? If you haven’t taken time out for yourself, what’s holding you back? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Take a listen to this week’s podcast: “Self-Care is More Than a Hashtag”

Six months ago I began going to therapy. I can truly say that it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life; right next to uprooting my family and moving across the country. I decided to break the stigma I always knew of black Christian women not going to therapy. It was so taboo for so long and we were expected to just be strong and keep pushing. There was just entirely too much I’d carried that was worthy of unpacking and I needed to let it go. I came to the realization that it is okay to pray for healing and go to therapy all at the same time.

It took me years to find the courage to admit that I even needed therapy. I had been through child molestation, loss, domestic abuse, navigating through divorce, and a few toxic relationships among other things. It took even longer to decided to finally research a therapist that would fit my needs. After that, it took much more time to actually make that first phone call.

I took everything I thought I knew and threw it away

Many of us were raised to conceal our emotions and just keep moving, bottling up everything inside of us until we explode. This is not healthy at all.

Growing up while black and growing up in the Christian community tainted the idea of therapy or any type of counseling being a necessity in my life. I was simply taught that prayer was the “end all be all.”

I really believed that I had the ability to just pray it all away until I realized that I couldn’t. I wasn’t some kind of magician that could wave a wand and “voila” all my troubles were gone.

Faith without works is dead (James 2:26). So I had to rid myself of the ideology that I could just say a prayer and God would remove whatever trauma I’m experiencing without actually putting in the work. I don’t know if you knew this or not, but therapy is work ya’ll. Whew, Chile! I had to tell myself that just because I was going to therapy didn’t mean that I was watering down my faith or that I believed Jesus any less than the day I gave Him my life.

I decided to leave everything I knew at the door and work on taking the steps necessary to begin my healing.

blank notebook and bible on table

I created a list of criteria

  1. My therapist had to be a black woman. There was no question about this one. I wanted to feel comfortable and I wanted to feel safe. I wasn’t going to feel either of those things spilling the tea to someone who would never be able to relate to my personal traumas as a black woman.
  2. This black female therapist had to run a faith-based practice. My walk with Christ is important to me and I wanted to ensure that Christ was in ALL of my details. I wanted to be consistent with making sure that scripture and prayer were being used in this new chapter of my life. Y’all can keep the crystals and I believe sage belongs in my food (dat’s it!).
  3. This therapist and her practice had to align with what my current needs were. She also had to be able to understand my short term and long term goals with therapy. I wasn’t planning on going to therapy for the rest of my life. I also didn’t want to have my therapist on speed dial for every moment I was going to have a breakdown. My end goal was to heal and unpack. I needed to have the ability to cope with future issues on my own with the tools she provided. The only one I lean and depend on Christ!

I finally made the call

I had been holding on to my list of criteria for a solid minute. To be honest, I didn’t have much intention on proceeding after that. I made every excuse in the book not to call someone. I kept telling myself that I could fix it all on my own, but I was sadly mistaken. With the push of one of my best friends who kept me accountable, I finally made the call and scheduled my first session with the therapist I had been researching for some time. She seemed like the perfect fit for me and indeed she was.

My first session was not what I expected

Girl, I thought I’d be broken down on her couch teary-eyed while unpacking 30 years of trauma like it was a Lifetime movie in the 90’s. I was ready to let ALL of my frustrations out in the first session! To be honest, my therapist told me exactly how our first session was going to go, but I still had this animated expectation in mind going into it.

We spent fifty minutes going over my personal goals and expectations for therapy. She also discussed her approach based on my needs. My therapist let me know that I was in control of each session. She would guide me if needed and allow me to discuss whatever was on my agenda that day. She would assist me in unpacking the baggage I had been carrying for so long.

Her intention was to provide me with short term therapy. Her goal was the same as mine; to equip me with the tools needed to survive on my own and not depend on outside help. She believed that if I were co-dependent on my therapist, she wasn’t doing her job properly and I agree. I see it like taking an anti-depressant for the rest of my life. It’s not helping the issue at hand at all; just prolonging it.

Close up of sunflower

I began to show growth and healing

In addition to continuous prayer, each therapy session came with much healing and a bloom I had never seen in myself before. I was no longer wilted or watered down. I regained confidence in myself as I blossomed into a new creature.

I learned to create healthy boundaries to protect my mental and emotional health. I routinely held space for myself and not just everyone else. I discovered how to navigate through my anxieties even when my back seemed like it was against the wall. I learned to smile again. Most of all, I was determined to let go and to live, love, and let love reside in me; however that may look.

The baggage that I carried for so long silenced me in more ways than one. So, during this process of going to therapy, I started to pray out loud again. I unsealed my lips and stopped thinking that the Lord had good enough ears to only hear my thoughts and silent whispers. I broke my silence and now I make sure He hears my cries, my shouts, and my worship.

Prayer by itself wasn’t the route to my healing. I needed to seek help and I did just that. I needed more than prayer. I needed a therapist too.

What’s holding you back from seeking the help you know you need?