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By Edeliza Virata
I used to take pride in a self-maintenance routine that consisted of only the basic: a brushing of the teeth and a shower. Fifteen minutes was the most amount of time I felt comfortable spending on such a frivolous, as I thought then, subject: myself. Fifteen minutes for me was almost too much time to be fussing on such seemingly trivial details like hair and complexion. In my twenties I felt there were more important and better things to do than spend time on my self or brush my hair in the morning, so I used one lotion for my face and my body, let my wavy hair hang stiff and unbrushed, and drank my coffees like the alertness from each cup allowed me to ignore the knots on my neck, hands, and shoulders from working at a desk. I spent most of my twenties as a strategic planner, a cerebral, high-pressure advertising agency job, and felt that I needed to take my appearance less seriously for people to take me seriously. I wanted people to hear what I said when I presented things, and not just look at my face while I said it, and if I felt I needed a little confidence boost, the most I would put on was a dark colored lipstick. I wanted to do the minimum for myself thinking I could give more for my work. Now I’m in my thirties and while I don’t regret the maintenance (instead I’m learning to be grateful that at least I moisturized after every bath), how I wish I had put just a little more care.
Self-care is now ubiquitous and I take pride in being one of its staunch followers, ironically, because of my years as a strategic planner. Full days of sitting at my desk, reading, analyzing graphs, and squeezing my ideas out on paper before putting them together in a PowerPoint presentation apparently required more self-care than basic maintenance. Some nights I would come home after having done over time work and go straight to bed without even washing my face. Time, I thought, would be best spent for sleeping instead of grooming. Now, in hindsight, time would have been just as well spent doing a ten-minute meditation, putting on a face mask, or rolling jade on my temples.
Self-care began in the 1950s as a medical term that meant helping patients who couldn’t tend to themselves physically, on their own. Doctors in mental hospitals or caregivers in nursing homes would practice self-care with their patients, by helping them do their grooming or stretch their muscles or read their morning papers. During the civil rights movement and throughout the counterculture in the 1960s and ‘70s, self-care became a political act. In 1988, Audre Lorde wrote in her book of essays called A Burst Of Light that “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it’s self preservation, and that is an act of political warfare”. In a 2014 speech, Angela Davis called for it, even evangelized it, because she has learned that without spending the right amount of nursing and nurturing for our skins, our minds, our bodies, and our spirits, how could we remain resolute, and eventually claim victory, in our battles for racial and gender equality?
In 2016, self-care was one of the most googled phrases because evidently in 2016, we were exhausted. On May 9, 2016, Rodrigo Duterte, a city mayor known for his vigilante means against drugs was elected president in my home, the Philippines, and on November 8, 2016, Donald Trump, a Republican businessman most famous for firing employees on American TV, defeated Hilary Clinton for president. Their wins meant that there were more, harder, battles to be fought, and we needed not only to prepare but to repair ourselves. We were spent from our losses and we had to care for our wounds first, get the necessary sleep for our bodies to heal, and train them as well as our minds once again, for even more fighting.
It’s now 2020, and self-care is past political. Both the Philippines and the US continue to fight against the novel coronavirus while fighting for human rights and climate change. During this time, self-care is no longer a radical act, but an act that is a must. In today’s times it’s imperative that we take as much time as we need to rest our minds through breathwork and meditation, stretch our limbs and untangle our knotted muscles through some form of exercise or yoga, heal our spirits with the right audio frequencies, and remind ourselves of our worth as human beings through positive affirmations. The minimum no longer serves us, and it’s our responsibility as people with moral integrity, to put our personal wellbeing primary; to invest in it even, because in today’s times we’re no longer just fighting for equality, but for our health, too.
Join us here at MamaP for seven days of self-care, from breathwork, yoga, and sound healing, to daily affirmations. We’ve prepared short videos that can be watched and replayed as guides before our usual routine of basic maintenance, whether it’s brushing our teeth (with biodegradable toothbrushes, of course!) or hopping onto the shower. Consider these extra minutes to care for your self as an act of nobility: time well spent for the knights and lady knights in shining armor that we are.
To receive our 7-Day Wellness Reboot video series, click here
About the author:
Ede Virata always wanted to be a writer, but got caught up working as a sales associate at a Macy’s in Washington state for a year before doing brand work for a boardsport company in Manila. Plans of becoming a writer became more plausible as she entered the world of advertising, but her boss found her a natural strategic planner instead. Now she writes for MamaP while surfing and following physical distancing protocols on the coasts of Northeast Luzon, in her home, the Philippine islands. Her new plans include learning to be a permaculture gardener.