My self-care journey has only just begun and I have a long way to go. I do have bouts of self-doubt, anxiety, and panic, and I still go through periods of feeling overwhelmed. However, more than anything, I have learnt that self-care, for me, is a subversive act, and caring for myself gives me the strength to challenge the status quo and play my part in social justice movements.
Self-care is influenced by the environment we inhabit, the way we relate to others, the way we negotiate with other living beings or structures. Self-care is also interlinked with other types of care – whether that is in community resources, psychosocial support, engagement with medical and health care institutions, and of course in collective agency and solidarity.
Just as capitalism has learned how to co-opt feminism into its model, it has done the same to ‘wellness’, so much so it has become an industry of its own. Mental wellbeing, no matter how necessary and important it is, remains a luxury with more than half of our country either unaware of available mental health resources or not in a position to even afford therapy.
But self-care is not a clean and happy procedure, it is not definitively achievable when systematically explored. To understand the scope of self-care we need to see the ‘dark side’ of the landscape, and destroy the versions of self-care that denounce our plurality. In this fight, the only outcome can be a recognition of experiences beyond the wellness narrative structured around the neoliberal agenda. This article is an attempt at foregrounding some aspects of self-care that decentralise the prevalent commodification of it.
Ageing vaginas in ageing female bodies are joked about. But a vagina shouldn’t have the task of pleasing anybody but itself first. To begin with, we’ll have to love and respect our vaginas in order to pleasure them. Love them just as they are. If they feel a little dry, don’t despair. Use a lubricant or a little coconut oil. If my labia are unshapely, they’re still my labia and respond very nicely to gentleness and tenderness. If I don’t love and respect my ageing body, in need of gentle, loving, patient care, then who will, for God’s sake?
My journal has many entries that are speculative and fantastic. Writing about the mundane leads me to question the way the world operates and from there I frog-leap into a world of ideas where I imagine a radically different way of being. In my journal, I imagine a politics of care, community, and compassion. I become grand, valuable, and unstoppable, even in a world where I am sometimes made to feel small.
Pandemics have a profound psychological impact. They are known to disrupt one’s sense of safety, security, certainty, control, concordance, and…
Inspired to collect photographs of women spending time by themselves and for themselves after a conversation with her mother’s friend, Surabhi Yadav began the project, Women at Leisure.
This thought-provoking, luminously illustrated The School of Life video reminds us of self-compassion being essential to building our own selves up, and being a safe space where we can extend the same love and imagination to our vulnerabilities, insecurities, fears, and doubts as we do to our friends.
We are often told to speak to ourselves as we would to a friend, gently and lovingly. At the heart of friendship is vulnerability – a radical acceptance of oneself and another for who we truly are, the glowing and beautiful, as well as the dark and crooked.
Therapy is a space to heal and grow. It helped me to accept my identity as an anxious, cisgender, South Asian, bisexual woman. Moreover, I have come up with the perfect response next time someone asks me, “But why do you think you are bisexual?”
A wedding is a major event in a person’s life. The event comes with many dreams, hopes, expectations and desires….
I am not pleased about everything that happened, but I accept that these are my experiences. I accept that I have grown through them, built more invisible muscle. Most of all I accept that it is with the help and support of a diverse array of souls, relationships, and ordinary chuff-chuffing that I can do and be many of the things my spirit is; my life is more than the parts that panicked, and I accept and look after those bits too.
“I’m afraid because I bring to bed more than just one soul of a scared conflicted boy. I’m bringing to bed a whole army that not only runs the streets within me but also spills out over my body and the body of the boy next to me.”