What is Radical Self-Care and Why You Need to Prioritize Rest as a Form of Resistance

We all are learning to navigate the challenges that come with the social, political, environmental and racial shifts that are happening around the world, primarily in our own country.  While it seems as though the entire world is in disarray, it is even more critical to check in with ourselves and find ways to take care of ourselves. 

Starting with the unknown outcomes with the coronavirus pandemic, combined with the revolution of the Black Lives Matter movement, the world is changing drastically, hopefully for the better. However, as we are on our way towards evolving as a humanity, we have to prioritize ways to navigate our emotions and stress along this bumpy ride because the world is in this for the long haul.

Let’s explore the concept of radical self-care. To declare anything as “radical” means to dig deep, so deep that it may seem extreme because it you may have to operate out of your usual paradigm of living. Most of us are programmed to prioritize performance and productivity to the point of exhaustion. You may fall in this category if you tend to feel the slightest bit of guilt for doing anything for yourself, especially when there seems to be so much that needs to be done. Self-care is anything that you do to help yourself to feel restored and fulfilled for own health and wellbeing. Therefore, radical self-care is making the choice to pull back from your ingrained programming to perform and produce, in order for yourself to be restored and sustained. 

While there are many forms of radical self-care. This thought-piece is on the concept of prioritizing rest.

You have every right to pull back sometimes. Sometimes we feel guilty if we aren’t out there on the front lines. I must say that during the week of the George Floyd killing and the global protests, I found it challenging to navigate my own thoughts, feelings, and reactions while holding space for my loved ones and clients. I also found it challenging as I faced the looming question of whether or not I was doing enough to address the injustices of the world.

And then it hit me.

I am doing the best I can do, within my own scope of influence. The conversations that I have on individual basis, with the everyday people with whom I interact are my way of “making an impact.” Donating finances or resources where I do not have the time or energy is my way of “making an impact.” Being in my lane, doing what I can do and continuing to work on myself is my way of “making an impact.”  If we all make an impact by being the change that we want to see in the world, change can and will come.

In order for me to do that, I realized that the time I spend on my own self-care, to fill myself up, is the only way that I am able to continue to do the work that I do. So when I pull away from my own paradigm of producing and performing time to time, that also my way of invoking change. It’s practicing what Audrey Lorde talks about when she quoted that “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” And I always come back more productive when I do.

This is my reminder to you that rest is a form of resistance. Recharging has and always will be necessary to sustain ourselves, especially in the culture where performance and productivity reign supreme.

At the end of the day, we are human beings, we are living creatures…so why are we the only species who are so disconnected from a very basic need to continue to survive, which is to rest? 

When we are over-working our adrenal systems, it can lead to burnout, and what good are we to anyone if have nothing to give? And when are overstressed with anxiety, anger and rage, our immune systems are weakened. We need our strength not only for our mental health, but our physical health as well.

Feeling guilty when you try pull back? Let me remind you that guilt is a feeling that is appropriate when you have legitimately done something wrong. If you are feeling guilty, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Why am I feeling guilty for taking this time to myself?
  • Who or what is pressuring me to conform to their standards of productivity?
  • What or who am I valuing more in my life that I continue to put myself last on the totem pole? Is that energy being reciprocated or do I feel like I am putting more into it than I am getting out?
  • Are my OTHER individual basic needs being met? (Shelter, food, water, safety, etc.)

Most of the time, we will find that we have self-imposed or misappropriated guilt that is preventing us from putting our needs first. This is my reminder to you to acknowledge the guilt and DO IT ANYWAY.

You deserve rest.

You require rest.

And people around you will also benefit from it because when you are operating at your fullest, you have more to give to others. Seeing rest as a necessary component of survival is a major paradigm shift for many of us and is one worth exploring, especially in the midst of a global pandemic and the revolution.

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