Self-care for Community Health Workers

What self-care is—And what it isn’t

The idea of self-care has been around for a long time. The very concept of moderate exercising or eating well to improve health has roots in self-care.

Self-care is about

Self-care is about taking care of yourself well and taking care of your community.

It’s about knowing you should avoid salty snacks because it will cause your blood pressure to spike, and you have issues with hypertension. 

Self-care is about putting a plant on your desk at work so you have a small piece of nature next to you while you’re indoors.

It’s about taking a few deep breaths before you go into an anxiety-producing situation. 

Self-care is about seeing yourself as one part of a whole. It’s about asking for help when you need it—and asking others in your community if they need help and giving what you can when they do.

Because self-care is also connected to community care. For example, think about the Black Panthers’ Free Breakfast for Children Program. It’s common sense—and common knowledge—that people need fuel for their brains to work optimally. Hungry children can’t learn as well as children who have been fed.

Perhaps most importantly, self-care is about acknowledging the barriers that you face and recognizing that these stop signs have nothing to do with you. They have to do with systemic racism or sexism, with broken and antiquated policies, with a culture that reinforces the idea that nothing can be done to effect change.

Self-care isn’t about

The idea of self-care has been adopted by the likes of Instagram influencers and the advertising industry.

Self-care isn’t about indulgence. Being good to yourself allows you to open up and grow. It isn’t about making unhealthy choices or isolating yourself. It’s about recognizing what makes you feel good and what doesn’t—and making choices that allow you to feel good. 

Sometimes that means eating a bowl of ice cream (for example), but sometimes it means sitting with your feelings and letting yourself cry.

Self-care isn’t about buying certain products or following trends. It’s not about having a multi-step skincare routine. It’s not blowing a bunch of money on that one product that can supposedly change your whole life for the better.

It’s about listening to your instincts and trusting that you know what is best for you. 

Self-care isn’t about being perfect. It’s not about berating yourself into reaching imaginary ideal standards. It’s about being kind to yourself. About identifying the voice that lives in your head and speaking to yourself the way you would a friend.

Self-care looks different for everyone, and it requires some self-reflection. Is what you’re doing really making you feel good? Why or why not? How can you adjust just a small part of your day to feel like you’ve done something nice for yourself? If you’re caring for someone else, how can you provide the same generosity to yourself?

Be good to yourself.

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