Depending on who you ask, February has one of two major holidays.
There’s February 14th – also known as Valentine’s Day. A day of love, of partners setting aside time for each other to show appreciation and do some romancin’. What exactly that romancin’ looks like or how far it goes varies from individual to individual.
And then there’s February 15th – National Discounted Candy Day. This isn’t recognized on calendars and Hallmark doesn’t have any cards set aside for the day, but it’s definitely real. Hit up your local grocery store on your lunch break or on the way home from work. They’ve got to make way for Easter candy somehow and chocolate is chocolate.
In the social media influencer sphere, February is the month of self-care and encouraging it. It makes sense if you think about it. January has come and gone. The resolutions have been set and probably broken, all the glitter of Christmas has been put away for a month, and winter has been here approximately forty days. Forty short, dark, oftentimes freezing days if you live in colder climates.
So by the time February rolls around, everyone is thinking about warmth, sunshine, fresh flowers and then feeling cranky to remember we’ve still got another six weeks at earliest before those brighter days are ahead. Frankly, the aforementioned romancin’ might be the only thing to look forward to, if you can find a partner or lover who knows what that looks like.
I promise I’m going to get past the romancin’ part and get on with the post, reader-friends, and get on to the real topic: self-care.
Or as I prefer to practice: soul care.
I’m not one to knock the importance of self-care and carving time out in the week, as well as small moments throughout the day, to check in with and take care of yourself. In its purest, most original form, self-care is about replenishing oneself and recuperating so you can go out and continue to give or produce for the world.
The movement actually started as a political statement during the fight for civil rights. Black activists began speaking about the importance of self-care when governments and health centers wouldn’t take their medical issues seriously and either denied or ignored them. Later on, women’s rights activists adapted their own version of self-care for women living in poverty who didn’t have access to medical centers and services. There’s a great article from Sarah Boyle that does a better job explaining the origins of the self-care movement, which I’m linking here.
So keeping in mind the original self-care movement and why it rose up, I can’t help but find the current self-care movement that influencers like to promote a little, well, cheesy. You all know what I mean. It’s the middle-to-upper-middle class white women under 40 who repost the same meme about how “self-care isn’t selfish” and recommend bubble baths, flowers and eating the cupcake on self-care Sundays. Their self-care routine has got to cost roughly the same as some families’ grocery bills and never seems to go beyond the surface.
Now I’m not going to sit here and pretend I’ve never bought myself a bouquet for the dining room or that Sunday at-home spa day doesn’t happen in my place, but that’s not really deep, restorative self-care. It’s just fun and, admittedly during high stress times, self-soothing (especially the eating part.)
What I strive to practice and advocate for everyone: soul care. Deep, renewing, and maybe even transformative soul care.
It’s reading a self-help book or listening to a podcast from a therapist if you’re struggling with a challenge in your life and seeing a therapist privately isn’t an option. It’s scheduling the doctor appointment and then creating a plan with your doctor to treat whatever’s ailing you. It’s reading a book that opens your mind or provides some clarity. It’s prayer for my religious folks or meditation to calm and re-ground yourself.
It’s also going outside and taking a walk in nature, to remind yourself that in the grand scheme of the world, we’re all so small and to put life into perspective (okay, maybe when it’s colder than an Alaskan mine digger’s toes outside this isn’t the best suggestion.) And it’s making sure that whatever we’re eating and drinking has the appropriate nutrient to keep our bodies strong through these cold, dark winter months.
This year, soul care for me is both spiritual and physical. I listen to YouTube while I work. Depending on the mood, sometimes it’s 80s rock songs when I need energy, jazz or Sade when I want to relax, healthy living podcasts or leveling up femininity channels. I’m not sure how I got there, but about a week ago I discovered the channel of Bishop R.C. Blakes. He’s a preacher who has Queenology sermons for women and Kingology sermons for men. I’ve started listening to his Queenology sermons, which bring me both comfort and wisdom, as though I’m talking to an older father who only wants the best for me and is willing to share everything he knows.
I’m also listening to a local church’s online services. It’s been a long time since I’ve last been to an in-person service, and I’m debating if I want to go “church shopping” once it warms up. So far, I’m leaning towards yes based off the sermons I’ve been listening to.
Physically my goal is to continue to get stronger for running and life. Marathoner Dorothy Beal once remarked that when she’s running all the time, she’s not really training for a marathon but for life because “running a marathon is easy compared to life.” I’ve been feeling that way for the past few months, especially with my grandparents needing us and through grief.
So as I have in years past, I’m dedicating February to soul-care. Surface-level self-care is nice and all, but deep soul-care, of nurturing my mind and my soul, is king in my book. This is the month I prioritize getting my ducks in a row and myself in the best mental/emotional/spiritual place possible. There’s a few moves I want to make, and why not use a quiet, cold month to disappear for a bit and get my own home in order?
So to all my readers – I hope you all have a great week and month ahead. Take care of yourselves and make today count.
Yours in writing and running,