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A Black Woman’s Road to Self-Care  

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bowie State chapter.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that prioritizing your time and yourself is critical. In this world of uncertainty and stress, black women bear a disproportionate share of the burdens. Self-care is a tool for combating the effects of over 150 years of systematic racism and trauma.

Being black in America has never been easy, but being black in America as a woman is twice as difficult. For over 150 years, black women have been pushed to the bottom of the American colonial hierarchy, where they have fought for equality, opportunities, and their lives. Over the years, black women have been stigmatized as “strong black women,” a toxic ideology that has left black women traumatized, tired, stressed and dehumanized. Following the unprecedented 2020 protests, the viral pandemic, job loss, and mass unemployment, the world has changed, and so have black women, reclaiming their humanity. You may wonder how. Self-care teaches Black women that putting themselves first enables them to better serve the world, earn a better living, and enjoy life.

Roots of 2020’s Self-Care 

“Radical self-care to me means returning to yourself, it means prioritizing your wellness above everyone else’s. Because if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others,” said 

Oludara Adeeyo, psychotherapist and author of “Self-Care for Black Women: 150 Ways to Radically Accept & Prioritize Your Mind, Body, & Soul.”  Her book essentially focuses on assisting black women in changing their perspective on life, improving their mental health, eliminating stress, and self-advocating to create the life they want for themselves.

In this chaotic world, self-care means learning and connecting with yourself to find peace, stillness, and a voice.

The Origination

This Black Women’s Self-Care Movement has become a trending topic across social media platforms in recent years; the concept of self-care has been around since Ancient Greece. The desire for affluence and a life of luxury leads those with less in service to those with more. Meanwhile, The Colonial note originated in the medical community in the early 1950s. The advent of “person or patient-centered medicine,” emphasized individualistic practices that would improve patient health. This was the first step toward the birth of the self-care movement. 

care was first used in mental hospitals for institutionalized patients, and it has since been incorporated into medical ethics education. To regain self-worth, patients should be encouraged to practice self-care. Daily activities such as exercise, proper nutrition, and personal grooming preceded medical self-care practices.

The 1960s

During the civil rights era, the Black Panther Party’s “community care” became an important component following self-care being accepted in medicine. The Black Panther Party used self-care as a strategy to combat systematic racism. They understood the significance of self-care for women, minorities, and other oppressed groups’ emotional and mental well-being. The Black Panthers recognized the importance of looking out for their people to maintain their momentum. By encouraging self-care among its members, the movement can stay motivated to fight for justice.

The 1970s 

Until the 1970s, the history of self-care was connected with medical racism. In 1972, they released their “Ten-Point Program,” which emphasized black people’s health as a key to their resilience in the struggle for social justice. For many activists, taking care of their health was critical to remaining involved, engaged, and energized to move forward in the face of stress, trauma, and ongoing adversity.

Self-care became a part of black history at this time. This approach quickly became holistic and widespread, adopted in various ways by many people. Community center initiatives frame self-care as a health and wellness term.

In the 1980s 

Audre Lorde was a prominent self-care activist who carried forward ideas started in the Black community. Lorde, in many ways, gave black LGBTQ individuals a voice at the table when it came to health and wellness. In 1988, Lorde wrote famously,“ Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” 

The 2000s

Our country was propelled into a new period of self-reflection and belonging at the start of the 2000s, notably following the events of 9/11. 

The word “self-care” has undergone significant redefinition. Before now, the term self-care was still closely tied to the movements from which it came. It was used to encourage activists to avoid burnout. However, the 9/11 attacks brought unprecedented devastation and loss. The attacks sparked a new movement of trauma therapy, and mental health and rose self-care to new prominence. 

Also followed by a few years later the economic recession in 2008 made these two key events that ultimately integrated self-care into American health and wellness conversations.

The 2010s

Since then, self-care has gained popularity as a necessary and welcomed habit for everyone. It has arrived at a time when mental health awareness is growing. The “mainstreaming” of self-care began in the 2010s, in reaction to much of the pain of 9/11 and the 2008 economic collapse. It has evolved from its early days of reenergizing activists. And it’s become a frequently used and accepted phrase. Following President Trump’s election in 2016, the word “self-care” became popular. With the unfavorable election results, many individuals began to self-reflect and wanted to make the most of their lives regardless of who was in charge or what the future of the United States held. 

The word “self-care” increased in popularity. The term “ self-care” sparked interest through social media like never  Google Trends.

Self-care articles, podcasts, and books were released in the weeks following the elections. Self-care has evolved into a national requirement.

The Destination

This legacy of pain inflicted on black people and the world may be considered “a part of life,” but it is the reality of black women being able to go on autopilot. We can’t keep tearing through barriers to achieve our objectives while also carrying the weight of our families and the double expectations that come with being a woman. Self-care is the equalizer in an unbalanced loop of depriving ourselves of compassion and kindness. The importance of self-care and prioritizing their health and happiness. Making their lives and the lives of their communities more enjoyable.

Here are 10 short-term and long-term self-care suggestions that can black women particularly begin their self-care journey and routine:

1. Plan a trip once a year to rejuvenate your spirit and to experience, and connect with the world.

2. Drink water. Your body needs water to stay nourished and it has plenty of benefits doing so.

3. Read books that nourishes and inspire you to be great 

3. Journal 

4. Take a nap, your body needs rest.

5. Listen and create a playlist of music or podcast that uplifts you 

6. Exercise, commit to at least a 15-minute workout activity daily,  your body will thank you later.

7. Pamper yourself. How you look on the outside can reflect how you feel on the inside and vice versa.

8. Self-Reflection 

9. Social Media Break 

10. Therapy

Dionne Holiday

Bowie State '25

Dionne is a sophomore majoring in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management as well as minors in Criminal Justice at Bowie State University.She aspires to be a business owner of various trades.In hopes to be able to one day share her story and leave a lasting impact in her community.She has an interest in beauty industry and policy reform.Professional interests aside she loves to travel ,podcast and hairstyling. In three words, she would describe herself as ambitious, passionate and kind.