After reading this piece by one of my favourite contemporary poets, Yrsa Daley-Ward on ThandieKay, I got to thinking about my own self-care routine. The fast paced and at times overwhelming flow of life in London paired with the mentally and physically draining reality of my studies at best leaves me in an uneasy mood. Moreover, with recent atrocities in Paris, Syria and Somalia I’ve found it incredibly hard to not internalise horrible news. When you are bombarded with distressing images and news at all hours of the day – thanks to the real-time nature of social media which can be a curse in some instances – it’s hard to not be an anxious, unsettled mess. I’ve since made a conscious effort to get myself offline past certain times, and whenever I am online I forbid myself from reading comments on YouTube and websites of the Daily Mail ilk. There’s just something about the worst kinds of people residing in the comments section of such websites.
I’m in the middle of reading Arianna Huffington‘s book, Thrive, and it’s an insightful read that will not only compel you to reconsider your notion of success, but what it takes to actualise it. One of the key points Huffington stresses is the importance of finding personal time – shutting off from the world and focusing on yours truly. It’s a selfish endeavour, but it absolutely must be done. Through her research in writing the book, Huffington finds a strong link between exhaustion and poor performance, and cites various business and political leaders as examples. The years I’ve spent as a student, and burning the midnight oil, have been marked by late nights and enough stress to inspire a head full of grey hair. I know too well what almost functioning on three hours of sleep is like, and while it seems to naturally accompany efforts to get last minute essays done, in the long run I’ve not only impacted my psyche and spirit but my body too. Imagine an exhausted student lugging huge textbooks around the city. In the past this has left me with a trapped nerve and serious shoulder pain, and so it becomes imperative that every now and then I indulge in a massage. I recently had a therapist from a new at-home beauty service, CitySwish, turn my living room into a spa. I felt as though with every knot being loosened, my body was slowly but surely beginning to forgive me for my transgression towards it.
In between massages, self-care seeps into the mundane daily shower. I light up some candles, turn the bathroom into a spathroom of sorts and turn to luxurious formulas like the L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil*, Aromatherapy Associates Natural Exfoliating Scrub*, Philip Kingsley Elasticizer and Mandara Spa Tropical Blooms Body Oil*. What follows often depends on how I’m feeling – bad days call for purging all of my thoughts into my journal, but usually it’s listening to a podcast, reading a few passages from the Quran or a book, which lately has been The Orchard of Lost Souls by Nadifa Mohamed.
When I think about self-care, this saying by Audre Lorde comes to mind, “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare“. Indeed it is.