This time of year often gets busy. It can get tricky too – emotions surface about the last year, overwhelm about to do lists and social events rears its ugly head, there might be disappointment about the things you thought you’d accomplish but didn’t…the list goes on.
It’s no wonder there are a lot of articles out there about self care. It’s Important. And it’s not something many of us are any good at.
I’ve been thinking about self care for people who work in Diversity and Inclusion. It’s a tough gig. And it’s crucial we look after ourselves if we’re going to keep treading this long, long path towards equality.
Each time a person of colour delivers, or takes part in, training about Diversity and Inclusion, it’s involuntary therapy. They find themselves having to face into the injustices of life, the trauma they’ve experienced, their families’ history, their children’s futures. Every time they read a news report about racism, they have to accept that we’re a million miles away from racial justice. They’re forced to reconcile with the fact that the work their putting their heart and soul into may only be making the tiniest of differences, if any. Each instance of gaslighting they witness, trolling they experience, or lack of interest is is like a slap in the face.
Yeah, it’s a tough gig. But we keep going.
So today’s post is a quick reminder of some of the fundamentals of self care – the ones I’ve valued the most along my personal journey towards antiracism.
1. Go together
As someone doing incredible things in this space, and a critical member of my support network, often quotes……
“If you want to go quick, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” (African Proverb)
Never underestimate the power of the people who believe in you. Some will see your work as pointless, or too difficult, or too absorbing, but many will truly believe in what you’re doing. Enjoy them. Surround yourself with them. Support them and allow them to support you. I’m so grateful for the people who do this for me and for those who have become such allies over recent months. Debate, challenge, listening and laughter, goes a long way.
2. Look after your SHED
My boss is a big believer in being in charge of your own wellbeing, and I am too. We’re all responsible for our own care. She introduced me to the concept of SHED by business coach, Sara Milne Rowe, and I consequently tell everyone I know about it. It stands for SLEEP, HYDRATION, EXERCISE and DIET. And it asserts that if you can keep these four elements in a good place, you’ll be ok physically and mentally. It sounds easy, it’s not particularly, if you get one of the elements right, the chances are you’ve let another one slip. But making the effort to keep all these elements in check as much as you can is a great principle for life.
3. You do you
SHED works for me, but you do you. You’re in charge of your own wellbeing. It takes self awareness to work out what you need to keep calm, centred and strong. And self discipline to make the time to do it, Do you need fresh air and time in the outdoors? Time alone? A bath and a glass of wine? Meditation? Music? Take the time to think about this and then make a commitment to ‘do you’ regularly. Tell your support network too, they’ll hold you to account.
And no I don’t mean give up wine and chocolate. I would never advocate for that. I mean find a way to quiet the negative voices – take a Twitter holiday if the news is bringing you down. Focus on all the things you have to be grateful for to fill yourself with positive vibes. Surround yourself with radiators, not drains. Give yourself permission to say no. To stop scrolling. To step off the treadmill for a while.
5. Make a wish
Journaling is a well known tool for self care and self improvement. However you choose to follow the principles of it, I recommend you do it. It doesn’t have to involve daily practice or even writing things down, just recognise your achievements and be grateful for them. Then be specific about your goals. I write mine down. It’s empowering, like writing my Christmas list to Santa Claus and knowing he’s going to deliver the goods. You might not believe in journaling – you might not be a writer or a words person – but specifying exactly what you want focuses the mind and makes it much more likely you’ll get there.
Good luck to all of you with all of your wishes. I hope they come true. If you celebrate Christmas, and believe in Santa Claus, get those lists written, and I look forward to hearing that all of your wishes come true.
As always, thank you, I’m truly grateful to have your support and company on this journey.