I’ve been struggling to put into words how I’ve been feeling.
The heaviness weighing on the entire Black community lately has been indescribable. Several times last week I contemplated turning off my phone; deleting all of my socials. The constant sharing and re-explication of our pain to people who have seemingly been ignorant of the extent to which anti-Black racism has been surging over the last couple of decades took its toll on me and all I wanted was for things to STOP.
I quickly realised that as a Black woman (please do not refer to me as a woman of colour, I’m Black) I don’t get to take a day off. Deleting my social media might give me some sort of mental shield from the video and graphic updates shared by my peers, but when I step outside of my apartment, the fact that I’m Black remains with me. The fact that other Black people don’t get the privilege of deleting an app to avoid police brutality remains with me.
It frustrated me to see how much of the conversation surrounding this topic on social media was about what White people can/should be doing to help and why they should be educating themselves about #BLM, or about how they can be allies. Not enough conversations were being had around how Black people can take care of themselves during this time. So I’ve decided to compile a post with the things I’ve been intentional about doing this week in the name of self-care and protecting my mental health. No comforting words or “support” were going to take away the heaviness I was feeling, but a week of personal care and self-love sounded like a good remedy to start.
On Monday evening, I prepared a bowl of boiling hot water with a herbal lemon and ginger tea to steam my face with. I turned on my favourite slow R&B playlist, lit up a sandlewood candle and allowed myself to fully absorb the moment. Therapeutic doesn’t even begin to describe how good this felt – the heat against my face, along with the cleansing, natural scents in my room, created a spa-like effect that was so calming. With a towel over my head and nothing but the hot tea to stare into, I found myself confronted with the thoughts and emotions I’d been suppressing all week long… and it just felt so good to release them. It felt like a safe space to be ugly and to cry if necessary. Lord knows how much I needed that.
I immersed my face in the steam three times for about 5 minutes each time. Not only is the steam really great for opening up the pores in your face and improving blood circulation, but I feel this would also be helpful in loosening up any tension in your jaw or other areas that you may not be aware of that tension has been building up. I patted my face down with a towel and proceeded to exfoliate using a combination of brown sugar and honey. My pores were already open so this was a great time to exfoliate and remove all the dirt/ blackheads from my face. I later rinsed with cold water to close up my pores after leaving this mask on for about 5 minutes. I used coconut oil to moisturise and voila. My skin was baby soft afterwards.
On Tuesday morning, I woke up early to get a 45 minute workout in. My playlist was a South African house mix that really gets me energised. I felt unstoppable! My roommate arrived home from her 12 hour work shift and we did a 10 minute yoga practice together. We later made pancakes for breakfast while we grooved to some old school jams. It’s the little things that soothe.
Aromatherapy and Incense
Lately, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the way that my room feels and how it makes me feel. Because I’m working from home and have my workstation set up in my bedroom, it’s been really tough to find a space that energises me after work, being that I’m stuck at my desk all day. I’ve thus focused on creating a conducive atmosphere in my bedroom by making sure I always have bright light, making sure to keep it clean and impeccable, and more importantly, tailoring what it smells like everyday.
My bf got me a really pretty diffuser that alternates different colours, and I purchased a few essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus, orange, and peppermint to diffuse. Aromatherapy has really changed the game for me. Just the visuals of the diffuser give me peace and tranquility, and when you add to that the wholesome scents and chill R&B instrumental music… I don’t want to leave my room.
This morning, I burned some sandalwood-infused incense in my room as I prayed over my room. Being that it’s a new space (we moved in two weeks ago), my house mate and I felt it important to pray over the new apartment and bless it. The incense was helpful for me in channeling good energy into my room, and I saved it for when I felt like my room was well-decorated and cosy (kinda like the final touch). I’ll make a separate post on my new apartment very soon, as I know I’ve built up some curiosity over how it looks haha. This was my first time burning incense, and it really did leave a sweet and lasting aroma in the room. I imagined it being exactly as the Bible describes.
Basically, I kept up this routine all week and made sure I was exercising and going outside for walks just to take my mind off things. I also participated in a discussion with other Black professionals within the company I work for, and it was so consoling to openly describe our outrage and our plans to move forward in a safe, Black space. No questions asked. I honestly had a much better week this time than I did last week because I made sure to put myself first. Don’t be afraid to do this. In this time, you will need to do whatever it is that will keep you sane and whole. You matter. You are worth it.
I hope this post was helpful in figuring out how you can step away from the noise and re-energise for further action. If you’re feeling like you need someone to vent to/chat with, please know I am open and available to you. You can leave your message and follow up email on my contact page, or drop a comment below. Have a self-loving weekend sunflowers!