This post is also available in: Kreyol
I woke up the other day and told my family that I needed to go to Cap Haitian. I told them that I wanted to go, and I intended to stay for a while. I love Cap Haitian because it is a part of my family’s heritage, and because of the city’s historical significance. But what keeps Cap Haitian’s space in my heart is the proximity of the ocean, and the feeling that the ocean is walking side by side with you when you are in the city. (Not to mention the fact that everything is so much more affordable here than in Port-au-Prince.) Tonight, as I was lying down listening to the sound of the ocean, (because I’m lucky enough to be staying near the water) I closed my eyes to let the peacefulness around me enter my body. I realized then how badly my body, mind and soul had needed a moment like this to recuperate.
After a while of letting my thoughts wander, a particular one came to mind: is self-care a concept taught in our culture?
When I think back to my childhood, I recall my grandmother sitting in her rocking chair or her chez ba, her low sitting chair, or under a tree for her nap. I remember her smoking her pipe, taking time to drink her coffee or her tea, etc. These were her own special moments to let her mind drift. As kids, we were always told to take midday naps, so we could grow strong. I would argue that the naps were also necessary so the could have a moment to themselves. Whatever the reason, it absolutely is a good habit to take a nap to reboot for the rest of the day. What happens when our bodies, and more importantly our minds, need a break?
These days, things seem different. We tell ourselves that we don’t have time, which is a huge lie. We say there’s no time to eat well, to sleep well or enough, no time to talk to people and loved ones, no time to even breathe. Our only outlet is the second we seem to find to sigh and complain. Every silent sigh that escapes a Haitian’s lips represents tribulations, sufferings and betrayals, all expressed in that one inaudible sound. When we reach the point where nothing is working for us and in us, it’s time to take a break, to recharge, to take care of ourselves. Self-care starts by realizing that we are the only caretakers of this body we have, and that it is up to us to protect it, and that taking time aside for ourselves doesn’t mean we are selfish, it means we need to reboot.
In these troubled times, where we are met with constant bad news especially in our own country, it is imperative for the sake for our physical and mental health, to refresh our energy so that we can keep going. Here are a few ways to get started:
-Watch, listen, and read less news. Try to stay away from the political scene, both national and international, for a while. Taking a step back does not mean that you do not care.
-Take an early morning walk to meet the sunrise (if safety permits) or arrange to witness the sunset in the evening.
-Go back to old pastimes that used to bring you joy like reading, listening to music, watching interesting movies, journaling your thoughts.
-Find some time to sit back in your rocking chair, like the elders used to do, or lie down to take a rest.
-Create an occasion to reunite your family, love ones, or friends.
-Prepare yourself a dish that you’ve wanted to do for a while. Sit back and eat your fill of avocado and kasav (cassava bread), kenep (guinep), or grilled peanuts.
-Plan an excursion to the mountains to ride horses, to sit, eat and have a good time with friends.
-Pamper yourself from head to toe, indulge in wonderful smelling perfume, dress up and make yourself beautiful, even if you have nowhere to go.
-Take a traditional leafy bath in the middle of your backyard, let the water run over your head, scrub down your whole body.
-Treat yourself to a gift to celebrate an accomplishment.
-Find a new hobby to entertain yourself and/or learn something new.
-Work on your spirituality. Seek to be in harmony with your inner self. Call in love, peace and light to enter your being.
-Talk to a psychologist if you feel you need help to make the climb back to a more peaceful you. Remember: with good treatment comes a better tomorrow.
-Spread love to the people around you that are always there for you. This love will come back to you.
-Block, report as spam or unfriend, on social media as well as in real life, anyone who’s toxic to your peace. Do not hesitate because they’ve made a waste of their time in your life and so now it’s your time to move on.
-Eliminate any music that makes you think about an abusive ex.
-Break it off with the boyfriend or girlfriend who’s done you more harm than good and cannot give you the love you deserve.
-Make time for romantic dates with new people or to get reacquainted with old flames.
-Take time to discover yourself and the different facets of your personality.
-Look at yourself in the mirror and tell your reflection that you love her/him. Do it even though in the beginning it may sound foreign to your ears.
The decision to take better care of yourself may be difficult because society can make you feel that you are being selfish, lazy, or full of yourself. Yes, go ahead and be full of yourself for a while. Be full of the desire to love yourself. Love yourself by taking care of yourself with little gestures that might not mean very much to others, but will change your life for the better. It’s also difficult because oftentimes it’s easier to help others than to help ourselves. We falsely think it’s a sign of weakness if we admit to needing a break. We feel like a failure if everything we do isn’t perfect. We feel worthless if we are different from others.
Take care of yourself. Self care is important, especially in a country as stressful as ours. In the midst of this blackout it takes bravery and perseverance to stand and look for the sun inside of yourself!