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  • April Griffin

The Revolutionary Act of Self-Care

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The Revolutionary Act of Self Care

What comes to mind when you think of self-care ?  Bubble-baths, painting nails, eating a favourite food, or going on a vacation?  I have to admit that when I think of self-care I often think of these activities that have been promoted in the wellness space to care for ourselves.  As much as these are wonderful and enjoyable activities, these are only the beginning of self-care; they only scratch the surface.

I’m here to tell you self-care is not simply taking time to spend money or time on yourself.  Self-care is essential for our survival, and is a revolutionary act in a society that is obsessed with money, work, and success and economic growth.  

Self-care is about recognizing our essential value as human beings.  So much in our world about self care is about finding a break from work, rather than tuning into to our human nature, to the truth that we are valuable and worthy as we are.  

We are worthy at our age, in the job we are in, as we cope with mental health issues and disabilities, whether successful or not, whether grieving or not, with the body we inhabit at this moment. 

We may have received messages that “if we are good enough”, or “if we make enough money” we deserve to make room for ourselves, or that self-care will enable us to achieve a better self that is “better” or more “successful”, ore more loved or liked by others.  

I am here to say that none of those things are needed to make you a more worthy and better person.  

You have arrived, you are worthy of self-care, now, today in this moment.

Self-care is taking space to tune in to your humanity and purpose in life as a living breathing human, living on this planet, connected with other humans and beings.  

When we take time to pause and care for ourselves we are recognizing our own value- that we are not just on this earth for the service for others or an economic goal, but that our well-being is connected to the web of others’ well-being.  

That the way we care for ourself is the stepping point to creating a more just world, where everyone can take the space to see themselves as worthy just as they are in this moment.  

For those of us who care and advocate, it is even more essential that we lean in to stopping and pausing and recognizing we are not just “resilient” or “strong’ or unaffected by the injustice around us but that we are connected to the pain we witness and are also in need of care and space for ourselves.  When we do this we may realize that we do not have to be perpetually propelled by pain, surviving, and overcoming life, but that we can take space to hold and nurture life together in this fragile world with each other, even in the midst of injustice, discrimination, and personal and collective challenges.

I am writing this right now for myself as much as you.  I daily share in this struggle to differentiate self-care as a break from working and producing and instead see it as an essential and a revolutionary space to value myself and work in a different way.  More often than not I become exhausted and want to tune out instead of tune in, whether that is through consuming media, or eating food.  

More than anything, as a trauma therapist, as someone who cares for others and their stories daily, I am tempted to work very hard on the behalf of others because I want to help others.  I am reminded that, in order to be truly present to each person I meet I also need to fill up my cup, exhale, and listen to my wise self and ask what do I really need right now to truly nurture my soul and being?  

The answer may be different than what is featured in most articles that list the top 10 activities for self-care.  

For me self care is setting boundaries on my work and connect with people I love, to slow down, to reflect and journal on my pain points, and taking moments to experience joy and wonder and curiosity.

I invite you today to consider self-care as a revolutionary act of being human and a way to move away from an ethic of consumptions and production and a way to lean into being more connected to ourselves and also each other.

Take a moment to pause and contemplate- what re-orients yourself to your essential worth and value as a human being?  

Written by April Griffin MSW RSW

April Griffin is a trauma therapist and director of Emotion Wise Counselling that provides in-person and virtual therapy in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Feel free to contact us to talk with our counsellors about cultivating self-care and well-being.

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