Photo courtesy of Pexel.com

INTRODUCTION
TO SELF-CARE

THEME FOR JANUARY 2018

WRITTEN BY ROBYN CAREY SANYAL
Los Angeles native Robyn is a founding member of the ENDPAIN team. When she's not at her desk, you can find her harvesting goods from her backyard garden or in the kitchen cooking her way through a cookbook. She's not the best cook, but experimentation in the kitchen is her preferred practice of meditation.
Visual Art By Ellis van der Does
Ellis van der Does is a Dutch illustrator and designer based in London.
In she graduated from the MA Graphic Design Communication course at Chelsea College of Art and Design. Before going to London she studied BA Illustration at HKU University of the Arts Utrecht.

If you take a trip to ‘illustration wonderland’ with her, you’ll see popping colours and the use of different techniques. Ellis' style is clear and she often combines various forms and figures in order to create new stories.

See more work here: http//ellisvanderdoes.com
Introduction to Self-Care

“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” - Etty Hillesum

Every morning I wake up at 5 am. I grab a cup of coffee and spend a quiet hour by myself while the sun has still yet to rise. Sometimes I read, sometimes I journal, sometimes I walk, sometimes I sit in meditation—it all depends on how I feel. Those quiet morning hours have become my sanctuary. While the world is alive and loud in the later hours of the day, my one hour in the morning is full of stillness, and it’s just mine. This is my self-care.

In a recent past, the term self-care was often associated with political movements and social justice. African-American writer Audre Lourde famously wrote in 1988, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” However, the concept of self-care has historical roots that date back to Ancient China, where self-care and public health legislation were both considered key components to preventative medicine. The ‘Huangdi Neijing,’ an ancient and fundamental Chinese medical text, equates the balance of physical and mental states to vitality, and prevention of disease from within the body.

Seemingly, self-care has been hijacked right before our eyes and redefined by social media and beauty brands.

In medicine, self-care is a routine, a doing, an active participation in taking care of the body, often associated with the fundamental management of physical health. You know the drill—exercise, eat well, avoid risky behaviors, practice good hygiene. All important things. But in cultural traditions and ritual practices, self-care is more than this. It can be considered an act of connecting the body and mind, a recharging of the spirit. It is the reminder that I exist, therefore I may enjoy this gift of life.

In places around the world, self-care is considered an important act of kindness towards one’s self and others. Bathing houses and rituals are famous in Asian cultures, meant to restore the body and mind, while in Europe, social institutions like hygge (“everyday togetherness”) in Denmark and kiga (coffee breaks with others) in Sweden, are meant to instill a sense of wellbeing and community. In some countries, self-care it is mandated by law. Just this past year, France passed the “right to disconnect” law in which employees may not send or read emails outside of working hours in order to prevent burnout.

The reverberation of self-care ideals throughout the world speaks to its importance, but here in America, it seems to take on a different expression. The current mainstream display of self-care doesn’t always reflect radicalism as Lorde once described. Seemingly, self-care has been hijacked right before our eyes and redefined by social media and beauty brands. From the latest skincare line to age-defying supplements and #treatyoself manicures, it seems like everyone is trying to hawk self-care as if it can and should be sold. And to top it off, self-care has become a part of one’s social identity—because pics or it didn’t happen. Says Jordan Kisner for The New Yorker, “Self-care in America has always required a certain amount of performance: a person has to be able not only to care for herself but to prove to society that she’s doing it.”

[Self-care] is the reminder that I exist, therefore I may enjoy this gift of life.

So, are selfies and self-care incongruent or can they coexist? Are these new definitions indulgent or detrimental to our well-being or the well-being of others? How does an age of cultural obsession with self-care simultaneously exist alongside a resistance to make time for the caring of one’s self? What does self-care mean to you, the reader, and how does the ardent practice of self-care support your overall well-being? And finally, how do we fit these ideals into our already saturated lives?

These are just some of the questions we are seeking to answer this January. In December, we put a call-out to our audience asking, “How do you take care of yourself?” We received many responses, and our favorites are included in our first of many episodes of our Vox Pop series, where we get a temperature read from the audience on the theme we’re covering. As you will hear, we learned a lot, but our initial question was just the beginning of our inquiry into self-care.

For many years, self-care felt like an extreme indulgence to me. How can I be self-caring when my laundry list of things is already overburdensome? When I started my early rise, my intention was to start the day, guns blazing. With life always feeling too fast-paced with so much to do, I actually thought if I were able to squeeze more hours into my day, then I would somehow be superhuman. I was wrong. By 3 pm, I was completely burnt out and exhausted with little left in me, and yet my day was hardly over. So what did I do when it wasn’t working out as planned? I kept on going. But slowly, on the mornings when I did what felt good with my hour, rather than what felt urgent, I went into my day feeling inspired, ready to tackle whatever came at me. This became my own personal version self-care as I slowly accepted my need for a self-care routine.

How does an age of cultural obsession with self-care simultaneous exist alongside a resistance to make time for the caring of one’s self?

In a month that is often associated with new beginnings for health and prosperity, we invite you to join us in exploring the theme of self-care—it’s complexities, it’s contradictions. And no matter what, you get to decide what your own personal version of self-care is for you.

“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings you joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” - Jean Shinoda Bolen

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