The term self-care rushed into mainstream usage after the unexpected election of Donald Trump, but it originated in queer circles and communities of color. In fact, feminist writer Audre Lorde once said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Self-care has been co-opted by corporations, though, as New York Times writer Anna North points out, and it’s now a concept that urges (mainly white) women to take more baths, light more candles, and just chill out.
If that sounds boring to you, you’re not alone. Self-care originally meant connecting with your community and taking care of your basic needs — essentially, protecting yourself from the daily overwhelm of oppression by surrounding yourself with those who love you, who see you, rather than sinking into despair and adopting self-destructive tendencies. Applying a $40 mud mask and lounging poolside weren’t exactly on the original self-care to-do list, so don’t feel bad if those kinds of practices don’t really do it for you.
Not that we’re knocking mud masks or poolside vacations. Those things are lovely. But if you’re anything like North, who says her self-care is her job as a conscious reporter, then perhaps you’re looking for a self-care routine that’s a little more bustling and involved, a little less lying in savasana at the end of yoga class.
Here are four suggestions for self-care that won’t bore you.
1Get involved with causes you believe in
Did you attend the Women’s March in January? Did it make you feel fired up and ready to take on the world? You can get that feeling by getting involved in local activism. Being around like-minded people who are working to make the world a more just and compassionate place is most definitely an act of self-care.
Find your local ACLU chapter, an LGBTQ youth center that needs volunteers, or a house of worship that’s offering sanctuary to undocumented immigrants and needs help with logistics. Just get out there, because you have a lot to offer.
2Dance it out
The quote above is famously attributed to anarchist Emma Goldman, and we think she was right on the money. Dancing not only improves your heart health and lung capacity, it also improves your mood and allows you to express all of your feelings, which comes in especially handy when you’re having trouble putting words together.
Go take a class, hit the club, or booty pop along to a dance video on YouTube. Just move your body. We promise it will ease your weary mind, if even just for a few moments.
3Spend some quality time with your friends
Sometimes life gets in the way of spending time with your friends. It happens. Work, partners, kids, appointments, and the general chaos of modern living sometimes win out over long talks with your besties.
But honestly? You need those talks — we all do. That’s why we think setting a date with your girls or your BFF is a revolutionary act of self-care. Just look at all the incredible things that happen when women get together! Whether it’s venting all your pent-up emotions or brainstorming a worthwhile event, your time won’t go to waste.
4Go to therapy
If you feel like you need some help figuring things out — how to handle the next four years in this country, how to find actual work-life balance, anything! — seeing a therapist might be just the self-care you need. Talking to an expert about your confused thoughts, your traumas, or anything else you need to sort through can give you the strength you need to move forward. And in most major cities, there are clinics that offer therapy on a sliding scale, so you can work with someone great without going into debt.
Try not to get caught up in the stigma of having a therapist. Therapy is a really useful tool for anyone and everyone, no matter what they’re going through. If you don’t feel comfortable telling your friends or family yet that you’ve got a therapist, you don’t have to. Just as long as you’re getting the care you need.