Everywhere you look today, someone is talking about how self-care is the answer to our problems or something like that. If you aren’t practicing self-care then somehow you don’t measure up.  

I don’t like the phrase self-care. I’m not exactly sure why. For me, it conjures up images of pampered days at the spa which I don’t relate to at all. Maybe because before it became trendy self-care was linked with affluence and privilege.

Don’t get me wrong I’m totally on board with taking care of myself. But, it looks different for each of us and it’s really about taking care of ourselves the best we can on any given day. 

I prefer calling it self-compassion, self-love or self-nourishment, and occasionally self-care. 

Do you know that it actually began in the 1950s and grew in popularity during the civil rights movement?

It started in the medical community with the idea of patient-centered medicine. It emphasized individual practices that would improve the health of patients. Good idea. 

The term self-care was first used in mental hospitals. The patients were encouraged to practice self-care so they could get back their self-worth. Exercising, grooming, and eating well actually came as suggestions from the medical community. Don’t ask me what happened, that’s a whole other post. 

Self-care basically stayed in psychiatric settings until the 1960s.

That’s when the Black Panthers used the idea of self-care to fight against racism. They understood how important self-care was for women, black people, and marginalized communities. Practicing self-care was the only way to ensure social justice for communities hit hard by police brutality and racism. 

In the 1970s people started to become aware of racism in medicine. The black panthers wanted access to equitable health care. And who can blame them? 

Then in the 1980s along came Audrey Lourde. 

Lourde was a black lesbian poet, author, and activist whose work spoke about the importance of liberation for oppressed people. 

In 1988 she wrote, “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

If I understand it, she saw self-care as a way to counter the treatment of the white patriarchal medical system and to empower the black communities.

I feel like she was saying, the idea of basic body autonomy and the ability to have the time and money required to care for the body was a human right that all people should have. 

I deserve not only to live but to live well.

What does self-care actually mean? Here is the definition of self-care from the oxford dictionary. 

  • 1.0 The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s health. 
  • 1.1 The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s well-being and happiness, particularly during periods of stress.

Okay, so self-care means taking care of myself to preserve and improve my health and protect my happiness. 

That’s it! I can do that and I can do that in a way that feels empowering to me not because it’s trendy. 

But, what does it look like to deeply nourish yourself? What feeds you? What makes you smile and feel happy? Whatever that is for you, do more of that. 

The other day I treated myself to a trip to the bookstore. I hadn’t been to an actual bookstore in a really, really long time. I used to love to go and wander around the rows of books getting inspiration and dream of all the books I could read. 

I bought a coloring book. I parked on the floor in front of the section with the coloring books and looked through all of them. It was fabulous! I couldn’t wait to start coloring. 

The trip to the bookstore itself was self-nourishment. The coloring was self-love. Self-care. Call it whatever you want, just do it! 

It doesn’t have to cost much. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t have to cost anything. 

Go for a walk in nature. Take a trip to the thrift store with $10 and buy something just because it speaks to your soul and makes you happy. Take a long hot shower. (my personal favorite) Do the things that you keep telling yourself you can’t or shouldn’t. Buy new sheets. Paint your bedroom. Get a massage. Visit a hot spring. Dump your bitchy friend. Pick dandelions and make yourself a crown. Plant a garden. Make a cup of tea and sit and look out the window doing nothing at all but enjoying the tea and the view. Read a book for fun. Buy gold stars at the dollar store and give yourself one every day just for being you. 

This is nourishment. 

We all have so many demands on us. Either the demands that we have put on ourselves or that we allow others to put on us. 

Maybe self-compassion isn’t so much a political thing anymore, although it certainly could be. But, it is about self-preservation. How can we expect ourselves to be able to function in this crazy messed-up world without also doing the things that make that possible? 

Without periods of recharging yourself, you become depleted, stuck, and burnt out. You must have time to do nothing. And you must have time to do nothing by yourself. 

Start saying YES to yourself. It’s amazing how frugal we are with ourselves and so giving to everybody else. And don’t give me some bullshit excuse about how “they” need it more than you do. I believe that’s called self-destruction or martyrdom or something like that. 

God forbid someone calls you selfish.  Be ‘selfish’. Ask yourself “What are my needs? What would I do if it weren’t too selfish?” Do that thing!! Love and nourish yourself enough. Stop saying no to yourself. 

Make your acts of self-love deliberate. Set an intention. Don’t leave it up to chance. It won’t happen. Make yourself a priority. 

It’s okay to take time and take care of yourself before worrying about the rest of the world. Remember, put on your own oxygen mask first.

Our mental, emotional, and physical well-being; how we show up in the world; how we interact with those around us is dependent on how we care for ourselves.

And let’s not forget the herbs. Because well, it just wouldn’t seem right to not include some plants to help you with taking better care of yourself. 


Calendula connects to your 3rd chakra which governs the solar plexus. And the solar plexus governs your self-esteem, as well as your inner joy and sense of purpose in life. Calendula is a great herb for boosting self-love. It can help build your confidence and also help you connect with your true authentic self.

Add fresh or dried calendula flower petals to your bath. Carry some around with you in a pouch or diffuse Calendula essential oil in a diffuser. Drink Calendula tea. Laugh. 


Diffuse lavender essential oil to help calm your mind and enhance your focus.  You can also spray the essential oil-infused water around your house to make it feel more peaceful. Drink Lavender tea for an instant calming effect. Try this while you are reading a book or doing some other self-nurturing activity. 


Peppermint is an amazing herb for self-love because it increases optimism and passion for life. It’s energizing, uplifting, and playful, and helps you increase focus and motivation so that you can work on yourself more clearly. It also improves your confidence and attitude toward yourself and your life. 

Diffuse Peppermint essential oil in a diffuser. Drink Peppermint tea. Bring a bouquet of fresh Peppermint into your room. Self-care. It’s guaranteed to make you smile. 

Show up for yourself and be present. Appreciate the pause. It’s just a cup of tea. All you have to do is begin. 

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