Take Care of Yourself, Damn It: A Feminist Guide to Self-Care

Between getting catcalled on the streets, working our asses off for less money, and doing the majority of the world’s domestic and emotional work, sometimes a feminist can’t make time to look after herself.

And trust me, we need to make time.

Making ourselves the priority is not an easy task. Here are some suggestions for preventing a self-care system failure, and what you can do if you’re way beyond that point.

Surround yourself with positive energy.

People’s energy fascinates me. How is it that being around some people can act battery-
like and restore you, while others completely drain away your energy leaving a grey, lifeless version of yourself?

Tired Teressa on the Train

It feels something like this.

I’m sure someone out there with a better knowledge of the chakras can explain it, but for your self-care needs all you have to know is this: stop hanging out with people that take your energy.

Your energy is valuable; you can’t afford to be around people using it up.

Sometimes being around people with bad energy is unavoidable. If that’s the case, take extra precautions by preparing yourself for how their energy affects you. Guard your energy from them as if you’re guarding a slice of key lime pie. Don’t let their negative vibes get a forks-distance near you and your beautiful dessert-positive space.

One situation abosorbing negativity, the other acknowledging and releasing it.
This makes it look easy.

Surrounding yourself with people that have your growth and happiness in mind can bring a lot of good feelings (and if you’re lucky, drinks and baked goods).

Take a break, bitch.

We work too hard (and maybe play too hard). A healthy dose of feminist rage never hurt nobody, but if you find yourself burning out, it’s time to rest up.

Scarlet O'Hara in Bed, Thinking About It Tomorrow

Scarlett O’Hara pro-tip.

Sooner or later, your body is going to gently remind you of all those sleepless nights, tequila shots, and confrontations with men’s rights enthusiasts. It might put you in your place with emergency shut-down mode.

Do yourself a favor and don’t get to that level. Nobody wants a Yellow Wallpaper moment.

Acknowledge the stress you’re mentally and physically accruing. Convince your high-functioning self to take a break. We can have it all, but we may need a nap first.

Massages. Treat yo self.

Take it from a girl who got her first massage at 23: if you can afford a massage, get one STAT.

Fighting for equality is exhausting. And since that’s generally a job you do in addition to full time work, plus roles as awesome friend, exquisite lover, caring family member, etc, you probably already have a lot of stress in your life. Not to mention knots in your back.

While you may be lucky enough to have partners to dote on you via massage, there’s nothing better than an absolutely non-emotional self-care investment in the form of a professional massage.

The best part of a professional massage is that it’s all about you. No need for positive reinforcement or reciprocation. Ever.

That being said, I don’t plan on turning down an amateur massage anytime soon.

Breathe.

I used to resent people who told me to “calm down” or “breathe”. I’d indulge them with a few deep breaths, and carry on in an awful mood.

Clearly I was satisfying their needs while still neglecting mine. Rookie error.

After refusing to properly transform my rampant stress into articulate feminist rage, the internalization started to wear me down. That’s when I found this quote.

How paradoxical is the practice of meditation. At root, it is nothing but the simple act of sitting down, doing nothing, and paying attention. It’s almost the definition of pointlessness. Yet that very pointlessness makes it the most radical act of all, a total counterpoint to all our world seems to demand of us. The paradox is that the radical act of stopping, doing nothing, and just paying attention is the most healing, transformative, and positive thing we could ever do.
- Sharon Salzberg, Real Happiness

Salzberg basically frames meditation as a “fuck off” to the world; deep breathing has never sounded better. Added bonuses include: staying present in the moment and calming our thoughts.

So I’ve started meditating a bit. And when Roberta Shapiro tells me to breathe in courage, I actually do feel stronger. Who knew?

Roberta Shapiros Guided Meditation

See ya!

Smash self-harming habits like the patriarchy.

You’re fantastic. And if any voices in your head tell you otherwise, tell them to GTFO. Your brain should be playing Flawless on repeat. Soundtrack to all the awesome shit you’re going to accomplish.

Even a badass bitch can feel inadequate. Harmful thoughts include: dwelling on imperfections, getting caught up in other people’s opinions, overgeneralising, and blowing the worst possibilities out of proportion.

Help yourself by acknowledging harmful thoughts, being conscious of their effects, and then accepting yourself even when you can’t make them stop.

One word: therapy.

Deep breathing not doing enough? Wait, there’s more.

This is where I talk about therapy.

Therapy gets a bad rep. People think they don’t need it, that they’re fine on their own, and that people who believe in it are “crazy” and just trying to make others drink the Kool-Aid.

But once you understand what therapy really is, something clicks and it makes total sense.

A therapist’s sole purpose is to listen to you. They are trained to help you work through internalizations of the patriarchy like anxiety, eating disorders, and trauma. They have specializations for all our needs. Meeting with a therapist is putting aside a specific time to take care of yourself. What isn’t to love.

Your #1 relationship.

There is no relationship more rewarding than the one you have with yourself.

A photo posted by Life Alive (@lifealivecafe) on

Take care of yourself. Be prepared for situations that may weaken your energy and feminist resolve (like holidays). Here’s a few words from our Lorde.

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

—Audre Lorde, A Burst of Light (1988)

(Images from: Tumblr, Magneto Bold Too, AllMusic)

About Andrea Hampel

Andrea is a Boston-based vegetarian feminist and an editor and contributor for Woolf Woolf. When not eating extravagant poached egg brunches, Andrea enjoys reading literature that celebrates women, questioning social norms, experimenting with kale, editing, and visiting food trucks.