As we wrapped up National Women’s Health Week last week, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) wants to encourage Latinxs to make their health a priority. In these times of heightened attacks against our communities, it is critical that we care for our whole selves — mind, body and spirit — to avoid mental and physical exhaustion. Self-care can be defined as a deliberate activity to care for our emotional, mental and physical self: carving out time to attend to yourself and do things that will nurture you, and allow you to grow into the person you are and want to be.
While self-care can be doing things that are relaxing, like taking a long, soothing bath, it can also include doing things that might feel overwhelming, such as scheduling an appointment with a gynecologist and going to the doctor. Systemic issues that keep women of color from getting the care they need make Latinas more likely to suffer and die from preventable diseases, like cervical cancer, than non-Latina white women. Today we urge you to visit the doctor for a well-woman visit, get preventive screenings, and take care of your body and your mental health. Practicing self-care will help you engage in the fight for justice and liberation without sacrificing your mental, physical and emotional well-being. We got tons of ideas on how to take care of yourself while serving your community — from those at the frontlines of the movement — during our most recent YouTube Livestream: Poderosas To The Front: Caring For Yourself While Saving The World. Check it out, and follow our top tips to Poderosx self-care, below:
1. Check-in With Your Body: Have I eaten recently? Have I had enough water? Am I well-rested? When was the last time I went to a well-woman visit? When was the last time I had a pap smear? Latinos have the highest uninsurance rates in the US (19.6% of those under 65) and are more likely to suffer from preventable diseases. Even though open enrollment for 2018 is over, you can still visit HealthCare.gov and learn about your healthcare options.
2. Center Yourself: Breathe deeply. Stretch your body for a minute when you wake up, before going to sleep, and every couple of hours throughout the day. If you are able to, start a routine yoga practice or a simple guided meditation before going to sleep. Besides having grounding effects, a regular yoga practice can relieve symptoms of PMS, polycystic ovary syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Additionally, studies show that meditation lowers anxiety and improves heart health.
Also work to center your emotional well-being by being kind to yourself. An everyday practice of positive affirmations can help you change our inner script from one of self-deprecation to one of self-love and empowerment. Start your daily practice today. Self-compassion is critical to our well-being and mental health.
3. Know your limits and respect them: Set healthy boundaries. You can’t do it all, and overextending yourself will lead to stress and exhaustion. Women of color are often expected to take on too much even if it comes at the risk of our own health, the consequences of which could be deadly. Never feel bad about putting yourself first, you are not selfish for not taking it all on. Instead, give yourself time to rest and refuel.
4. Express Yourself: Write out what’s going on in a daily journal, call a trusted person you feel safe with, hold space for your emotions. Can’t find the words to write down how you feel? Show your emotions through physical art and performance. Choose your favorite song and dance to it.
5. Prioritize Your Mental Health: Taking care of your mental health is as important of taking care of your physical health. If you’ve ever been interested in therapy/counseling/group therapy, now it’s the perfect time start. If you’re already in therapy, keep going. If you can’t afford a therapist, check out these free to low cost resources.
6. Connect With Your Roots, Ground Yourself: Many of our home cultures look to nature for healing. Drinking special teas with chamomile and valerian root to calm down and have a more restful sleep can be very relaxing. Try making these homemade face & body scrubs with ingredients from your kitchen or relax by taking an aromatic shower, hanging a bouquet of eucalyptus on your shower head.
7. Reach Out For Community-Care: Sometimes self-care is difficult. Sometimes self-care is impractical. Sometimes we don’t have the time, energy, motivation or ability to take care of ourselves. Maybe you need someone to bring you dinner, schedule your doctor’s appointments or remind you to shower. That is okay. In these times, remember that you don’t have to fight alone. Reach out to your community network for help, to relatives or your chosen family. Here are 10 tips on how to ask for help. Remember: It takes a village. Looking to connect with your community, establish deeper relationships, and feel part of something bigger? Join a Latina Advocacy Network and become part of the NLIRH familia.
The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is the only national reproductive justice organization dedicated to building Latina power to advance health, dignity, and justice for 28 million Latinas, their families and communities in the United States through leadership development, community mobilization, policy advocacy, and strategic communications.