Welcome to Vibe Check, Unbothered’s new wellness column aimed at revolutionizing how Black folx think about self-care. “Self-care” is not always synonymous with Black existence. For example, in addition to navigating trauma resulting from racism, classism, sexism, anti-trans violence and more, Black women are expected — through socialization — to be caretakers, to be strong, and often to our detriment. Queer folx and the particular needs of the LGBTQ+ community are often excluded from conversations about wellness. Additionally, the wellness industry sells us the idea that wellness can be bought, and through that, it prices out the communities that need access to healing resources the most.
Vibe Check explores how Black folx are reclaiming their time, reconnecting with their power, and practicing self-care in their day-to-day lives. As Unbothered’s Deputy Director of Enterprise and a Black queer wellness coach in training, providing resources for Black people to create sustainable well-being practices for themselves is especially important to me. For our first installment, I share how the simple practice of mindfulness helps reform my approach to self-care and lead a more conscious life.
My existence is rooted in divesting from the racist, capitalist, and patriarchal structures that have created and perpetuated such destructive ways of thinking so that we may reclaim our bodies and our right to exhale.
How I prioritize self-care in my day-to-day life
My mom instilled self-care practices in me at an early age — from taking epsom salt baths for relaxation to keeping up with a weekly skincare routine — but I think I really started to prioritize self-care in my 20s. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) at 28, and I have been practicing mindfulness (defined by Mindful as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us”) since it was introduced to me in therapy. Practicing mindfulness not only helps me to manage my anxiety, but it also helps me to be a more present, grounded and intentional human being overall.
Mindfulness for me is keeping up with a routine: I like yoga and meditation in the morning followed by tea, journaling when I’m feeling overwhelmed, and any activities that keep me feeling centered. Being a podcast host myself, I also really enjoy listening to my favorite shows and playlists in the morning. I recommended Planned Parenthood’s TONE Volume One, which — shameless plug! — I recorded a journal and meditation exercise for (it's titled "Let Go").
I will turn anything into a mindful practice simply by slowing down and allowing myself to be completely present in that activity. That can be any of the activities I just mentioned, or even something like chopping veggies to my favorite relaxing tunes while I’m in the kitchen. I also really enjoy painting, coloring, and making jewelry because they are all activities that keep me out of my head and focused on the beauty in front of me.
Why self-care is important to me
I think these things have been especially important for me during the pandemic as we’ve navigated so much uncertainty. Finding activities that allow me to create a home within myself while everything around us has felt so uprooted has been essential for me. I try to move through each day slowly, by being present and honoring where I am, being gentle with myself, and not taking on more than I have capacity to take on. This is a big one for Black women. We take on so much and harbor so much guilt when we’re unable to carry it all. My existence is rooted in divesting from the racist, capitalist, and patriarchal structures that have created and perpetuated such destructive ways of thinking so that we may reclaim our bodies and our right to exhale.
Along with my work at Unbothered, I’m a training health teacher, meditation instructor, and well-being coach, studying Ayurvedic health enrichment, positive psychology, and learning about new ways to bring more joy and balance to my daily routines. I also host a wellness podcast called In Case Nobody Told You that focuses on mindfulness and aims to empower listeners to lean into fuller, healthier versions of themselves.
Books that are presently aiding me in my wellness journey
My tips for those wanting to explore mindfulness for the first time
Don’t overthink it. You don’t need to be a mindfulness guru to be mindful, and you certainly don’t have to practice mindfulness the exact way someone else does. The key is understanding what works for you. Are you a morning person? If so, perhaps the morning quiet is the best setting for you to take time for yourself. More of a night person? Create a wind down routine for yourself. Consider that many of the activities you partake in each day can all become mindful activities just by slowing down and bringing a gentle focus to them: brushing your teeth, making a meal, getting dressed, doing your hair, taking a walk.
And above all, I think the most important thing to remember is that you don’t need anything or anyone but yourself. The wellness industry does a great job of selling us the idea that in order to practice self-care, we need to purchase products in order to do so. That is a lie. Black people were born with it; all you need is within you.