Radical Self-Care: Cultivating Resilience, Affirming Our Worth

Radical self-care, the assertion that you have the responsibility to take care of yourself first before attempting to take care of others, has been gaining a lot of attention in regard to BIPOC and racial trauma.   Racial trauma is the emotional and psychological distress resulting from constant exposure to ever-present, race-related chronic stress (Hardy, 2023).   Because BIPOC are relentlessly battling internalized racist messages and dispelling myths that say we don’t deserve to rest and/or to take care of ourselves, radical self-care is not only an act of personal empowerment but also a revolutionary act of resistance and healing.

Due to the trauma of historical injustices, the effects of systemic racism, the constant barrage of media images that reinforce the awareness of the lack of safety, BIPOC face unique challenges that can take a toll on both the individual and collective psyche.  The impact of racial trauma on BIPOC’s mental health and overall well-being can erode one’s sense of self-worth.  This erosion leaves us vulnerable to the internalization of oppressive messages that dehumanizes and disregards our daily experiences and impacts how we feel in the world.  In the face of these challenges, radical self-care becomes a vital tool for resilience, empowerment, and healing by allowing BIPOC to affirm our worth via unapologetically redirecting our focus and energy back into what sustains us.  It is the opportunity to invest in our personal and collective growth, while showing up for ourselves. 

Here are some ways in which BIPOC individuals can embrace radical self-care as a means of nurturing their well-being:

Rest and Restoration: Prioritize rest and restoration as essential components of your self-care routine. In a society that glorifies busyness and productivity (grinding & hustling), it’s important to recognize the value of rest as a form of resistance. Set boundaries around your time and energy, and honor your need for rest, rejuvenation, and self-reflection.  Take mental health days and plan a yearly vacation (even if it’s a staycation!).  

Community Care: Prioritize community care as an integral part of your self-care practice. Build and nurture supportive networks of friends, family, and allies who share your values and experiences.  Create your bubble of identified sources of support to lean on each other for compassionate and empathetic conversations, solidarity, and collective healing.  

Cultivating Resilience: Resilience is the ability to bounce back after experiencing adversity.  Similarly, to the intergenerational transmission of racial trauma, our ancestors also passed down the ways they were resilient against oppression or else you wouldn’t be here!  These tools are already within us and sometimes we need help reorienting ourselves to the truth of who we are.  Cultivate resilience by practicing mindfulness, self-compassion, and emotional intelligence. Seek therapy to assist you in developing coping strategies that help you navigate stress, adversity, and trauma. Look for culturally competent therapists and healers who can support you in your healing journey. 

Reclaiming Agency: Reclaim agency over your body, mind, and spirit as an act of empowerment and self-determination. Challenge internalized racist narratives that reinforce invisibility and voicelessness. Reclaim your power by developing a narrative grounded in the reality of your strengths and the ways you are showing up for yourself.  Engage in practices that honor your sovereignty, whether it’s through movement, meditation, or creative expression. Remember that you are the author of your own story, and your voice matters.

In conclusion, radical self-care is an essential practice for BIPOC seeking to navigate the complexities of living in a world marked by systemic oppression and racism. By prioritizing our well-being, fostering resilience, and reclaiming agency, BIPOC can cultivate a sense of empowerment, healing, and liberation. When we practice radical self-care we are able to achieve more clarity, find a stronger sense of purpose, and we are able to show up healthier in our own lives and for each other.  Radical self-care is much more than a bubble bath – it’s a revolutionary act of self-love and resistance

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