Self Care for the Working Girl, La Mujer Trabajadora!
by India Taina
Note: Anything with a * has more information on the bottom of the post about the source where I got my information 🙂 Disfruta!
Ever feel like “Work” by Rihanna is your anthem… but not in a good way? You are ALL about that grind, you work those tireless days (or nights for some of you night HUSTLERS), and when you come home, you just want to veg out, real frijole style. You think to yourself, as you prepare your microwavable meal of tostones (frozen) and Totino’s Pizza Rolls (also frozen) on the side, “This isn’t the 1950’s. I can totally manage eating microwave food every week, I don’t have to prepare a meal by hand to be a real woman.” Then you proceed to eat said meal while binge watching Grey’s Anatomy or Jane the Virgin until it’s 10pm and it’s camita time (bedtime for my english speaking women of color that I adore). And then the hustle begins again. Sound familiar?
You aren’t alone mi’ja. So many women find themselves struggling to time manage the necessary things, so when it comes to self care, it’s no surprise that women wrinkle their nose and say “Self care? Who the hell is that?”. Because self care isn’t taught to be a necessity anymore. A lot of people think of self care as a face mask with wine (which it can absolutely look like if you want it to), but the image stops short after that. Nobody ever talks about boundary setting as self care. It’s hard to find women who identify exercise and eating nutritious meals as self care too. For some reason, self care has evolved into something for those who have luxury, and this is an absolute myth. All women have time for self care, and all women NEED self care. It is not something that happens whenever we have the time, it is something that we absolutely need to make time for. Without it, we for real, would perish. Imagine the following:
Carmen is an Afro-Latina who works for a very busy legislator. She is constantly reading packets and packets of information about law that weigh up to 20 pounds, on top of also catering to whatever the legislator’s needs are that day. She acts as the lead legislative assistant, taking time to answer questions from her team as well as other legislators. On paper, she does a 9-5, but in real life, it’s like an 8-8. When she gets home, she likes to lie face down on her couch and eat potato chips for dinner, because ain’t no way in hell she’s cooking. After a couple of months of eating just chips and maybe a sandwich for dinner, Carmen starts to notice that she is lethargic and feeling down. At work, when people come to ask her questions, she just wants to duck and hide. She feels irritable, and even lashes out at new trainees, which she was previously known to encourage and support through the training process. She just doesn’t feel like herself, and eventually lands herself in the Emergency Department, exhausted and dehydrated.
Now this example, although the end result may sound extreme, is all too often experienced by women who don’t actively engage in self care. They burn out. This a tried and true reality for a lot of women, and it is something that can only be remedied with good and solid self care. So what does self care actually look like?
Self Care can be:
- Exercising, in whatever form you enjoy
It is a proven fact that exercise is the single most efficient strategy to help you complete the stress cycle, which is explained so perfectly in Emily and Amelia Nagoski’s book “Burnout: the secret to unlocking the stress cycle” (2019). So, whether that means hitting the sh*t out of a bag in Boxing (my personal favorite) or kicking it up to Shakira or Biggie (I’m from NY so I had to), plus anything in between that you can think of, it’s all taking care of YOU. It’s getting all that built up and pent out stress out of you and into the universe, so to speak. And if exercise REALLY isn’t your thing, you can…
2. Try Breathing Exercises
Now you definitely think I am bullsh*tting you, but GIRL, this works! My boyfriend, a Colombian native (and total hottie might I add) has always been about meditation and energy and all that hipster crap (I was, and can still be, a total skeptic at times). I tried the meditation apps and the audio books and everything to do, and for some, like my boyfriend, it really works! He is totally calm after meditating and gets such a rush of happiness, in a practice that literally takes 10min of his morning! If you try this and it works, STICK WITH IT!
But for me, I found that some of the breathing techniques I was taught in my yoga classes (on YouTube by the way, Yoga with Adrien**, she is the bomb.com and I do not get paid for shouting her out, she is just this awesome that I have to share her with you guys for free!) was REALLY helping me in my anxious times. She taught me a practice in which you hold one nostril with your thumb while breathing in and out of one nostril and then switching to hold the other nostril with your pinky to focus on breathing in and out of the other one. Link to this video with appropriate credit will be on the bottom of this page! Let me know what you guys think!
3. Set clear boundaries with yourself, your partner, your loved ones, and your coworkers
Now this can be one of the more advanced aspects of self care, but it is definitely among the most important. According to heyamberrae*** on Instagram (go on and give her a follow! She posts great content on boundary setting and other difficult but necessary aspects of self care with super in depth explanations on how to implement them in your life!) setting boundaries should follow the format of “I value…So I need… and will honor by.” For example, “I value my well-being, so I need to say no when it is not a true yes, and I will honor this by staying true when there is external pressure.”
Keep in mind, setting boundaries can sometimes be a real discomfort, especially if you are a person who really likes to please others all the time, even if it’s at your expense. Some people will even try to talk you out of setting boundaries for yourself, because they like having full, uncontrolled access to you. And to that I say…
4. Block, unfriend, and move away from people who are both subtracting ,or just not adding, to your growth
This is self explanatory, but can still be hard! Remember that guy that you talked to back in Freshman year of college who low key did you wrong, but you felt it wasn’t wrong enough to block him? Girl, tell that boy BYE! If you have people on your page that literally have not liked or commented on anything you have achieved, they just like to see what you’re doing and keep scrolling, REMOVE THAT MESS!!! IMMEDIATELY! And if you have people who like to comment weird things that you really aren’t sure if it’s a compliment or not, take that to the trash too. We are in an age where you get to control who and what affects you, and it’s time to let the negative things go.
5. Cook (or at least invest in) nutritious meals
Now, as established in Chapter 1, I only date men who can cook because I am just… not here for it. However, over the last year, especially with my debut in boxing, nutrition all of a sudden became something that I absolutely could not NOT be there for. I needed it, and of course have ALWAYS needed it, boxing or no boxing. Yet us women tend to forego nutrition ALL the time, whether it’s by eating junk food to bypass the nutrition requirement, or even going hours at a time without eating just because we feel we don’t have the time. This is where that “luxury” mindset comes in, where women believe it is just a luxury to eat 3-6 meals a day. And this, baby, is an absolute FALLACY. We need brain food, heart food, and most importantly SOUL food to literally survive -as in- not die.
So why do women treat it like it’s optional and only the weak even consider the option? My guess is it has something to do with- you guessed it- Caucasity. The white patriarchy, grandfather of Caucasity, teaches women that a) the only way we are desirable is if we reach the goals of the bikini complex industry, which requires little food and lots of bad body talk, and b) food (and sleep) are for losers. If it ain’t making money, it ain’t worth the time. But girl, if you literally forgo eating over and over and have to end up in the hospital to get nutrients through a bag, guess who ain’t making money? Save yourself the hassle, and let’s get right!
So if you’re like me and don’t like to cook too much, or just can’t find the time, here are some options for you:
- Meal prep one day to last you the whole week
You can find tons of prep worthy recipes online, and they literally take about 45min to make a whole batch worth of lunches and dinners!
2. Download a grocery shopping app so you have more time to focus on the cooking instead of the looking 😉
This is the age of technology, where you can literally have your groceries shopped and delivered for you! How CRAZY is that? There are apps like Instacart**** where you put the items from your favorite stores in your cart and boom, they deliver it that same day, even that same hour sometimes!
3. Invest in a meal prep company to take all the hassle out:
Now I get this is definitely a more luxurious route to getting in that self care, but sis, if you are grinding so SO hard that you don’t have the time, then spend a little of that hard earned money as an investment into your well-being, and have all of your meals prepared for you weekly with lots of nutrients and love!
4. Learn to be okay cooking one meal a day or just 1-3 times a week
Once I joined boxing and was living on my own, I definitely had to learn to fend for myself as a new vegetarian who was on her way to being malnourished if I didn’t learn what was going to keep me going. So I did a little online research and learned so many EASY recipes to support my calorie count and protein requirement. You can do the same for whatever diet you eat, the possibilities are endless! And get comfortable wearing your chef hat, you are doing this for YOU honey, ain’t got time to be learning for no man! This is an investment of your time in YOU, which is what self care is all about!
6) Understand that RESTING is an important and vital part of self care
Rest is important, and can be provided in SO many different ways! It’s not just about taking a little nappy-nap in the break room when no one is there! Resting can look like all of the following:
- Goal setting on paper
- Relaxing walks outdoors
- Reading on your outside porch or just outside on a blanket
- Reflecting on your week in writing
- Drinking a glass of wine with a face-mask on (told you it could look like this)
- Sitting and really enjoying and savoring a favorite meal
- Cuddling with your partner or your pet
- Making love with someone or to yourself (spicyness can be restful too!)
- Taking a lovely nap
- Watching your favorite TV show (in moderation, go ahead and take an hour for that Grey’s Anatomy episode! Just don’t let it turn into 4 hours sis!)
- Invest in a diffuser and let it run while you do deep breathing exercises
- Get good smelling and relaxing body washes and balms to do a calming shower
- And finally, do whatever makes YOU feel at peace. For once, it’s all about you girl!
So let’s revisit Carmen now that she knows how to self care after her wake up call from the Emergency Department:
Carmen is still working as a Legislative Assistant, and her schedule is just the same and just as hectic. But something has definitely changed for Carmen. She starts off her morning with a 20 minute yoga session, and has even opened up to cooking her own nutritious breakfast everyday. Then before she leaves the house, she grabs one of her meal preps from the freezer, and heads off to work. As she works, she puts on her diffuser with essential oils that sits right on her desk, and during break, she breathes deeply and practices what she has learned from yoga. When she heads home, she grabs another meal prepped dinner out of the freezer, and enjoys a glass of wine. She showers with her new essential oil infused body washes and lotions just before bed. Then she is sure to do a little reflection, watch just one episode of Jane the Virgin, and heads off to bed.
This is what self care looks like ladies. It isn’t extremely difficult or drastic, nor is it a luxury for the few to have. It is necessary and needed. Your body needs you, and you need to show it some AMOR, chica! Your mental health and your spirit need it to, so be sure to be nice to yourself! You are such a freaking JEFA (boss)!!! Treat yourself like one!
Resources mentioned in the Article:
* Nagoski, Amelia, and Emily Nagoski. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. Ballantine Books, 2019. (I absolutely LOVED this book, as it gave both a scientific and empowering perspective on women who experience burnout, why they experience it, and how they can fix it. A GREAT READ, so worth it! The tips they give in here are invaluable!)
** Yoga with Adrien Alternate Nostril Breathing video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VwufJrUhic
(You guys, she really is the bomb, by far my favorite yoga instructor on YouTube, go ahead and subscribe for ALL your yoga needs! I love her!)
*** Instagram account for helpful images on setting boundaries @heyamberrae
***Instacart link to get groceries shopped and delivered:
You can also just look it up in your appstore or playstore!