So school is officially over and the summer has begun. Pre-2012 I loved the summertime because it meant a break, a time for me to recharge my batteries and relax after the stress of the school year. Of course now summertime ain't nothing but another season of working, which means that that time to unwind is no more. Most of y'all know what I mean; you have to work day and night with seemingly no break in sight. You gotta work to keep a roof over your head, to reach some of the goals you have set for yourself, or just because it seems like you can't stop. It can be really hard to keep encouraged and keep pushing through, especially when it feels like you’re not making any progress and life starts to weigh heavy on you. It’s real out here for folks, and that’s why self-care is so important. It can literally save your life.
I’m serious. Stress can take you OUT if you let it. And its everywhere. Worse thing is you really don’t realize how stressed out you are until it starts affecting you physically. Like me, I didn’t realize how tired I was last semester til I laid down in my bed one night and literally couldn’t move. That’s why you gotta take care of yourself, and no I don’t just mean eating right and exercising, I mean practicing self-care. In case you didn't know, self-care is basically when you take time for yourself and remove yourself from stuff that stresses you out. People do stuff that they like to do or just be alone for their physical and mental health, like I write, listen to music, boot up a video game, or read what I want to. It gets me separated from school BS and allows me to immerse myself in stuff I actually enjoy. When funds permit I'll even take myself out, going shopping or travel for that extra level of getaway. You don't have to spend money or even take a bunch of days off from work to practice self care, cuz let's be honest a lot of us can't afford that. Simply spending time with friends at your house or theirs can be self-care; all you need is a time to relax and not be stressed out about the nerve-wracking seriousness of your day-to-day. Practicing good self-care gives you that necessary release and escape to ensure that no matter what’s going on around you, you gone be alright.
You gotta take breaks sometimes. Whether its from school or work or whatever. Despite what all these “how to be successful” public speakers tell folks, you GOTTA take you some time off every once in a while because if you don’t well... But no, you really could die if you don’t take breaks every now and then, just ask some people in Japan. So often we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, working our jobs, trying to take care of family, and whatever else we have to do that we forget how important it is to take some time away. Lord forbid if you have extracurricular obligations, or if you do any sort of activist work. Its important to be able to step away from all of that every once in a while. It gets overwhelming to always be in "serious mode", and while I would never say that you shouldn't take whatever stresses you out seriously, you have to realize that sometimes you deserve a day off, and you should never feel bad for taking one.
Which reminds me, learn to say “No” sometimes. I get it, “But Marcus! I have so much to do! I have to do this and that to show them that I’m serious about my career, and if they ask me to go here and then I have to…” and blah blah. But I promise you, if you dropped dead right now your job would keep functioning, and if you’ve done good work with your family or whatever movement you are a part of someone will pick up the slack. You DO NOT have to bear the weight of the world on your shoulders, because once the world crushes you its gonna keep spinning, not even knowing the sacrifice you made. It may seem harsh, but it’s real. I deal with the same thing. I often feel like I have to do this for teaching, and talk about this issue, and write this story, and read this book and understand this topic and be there for my friends and find ways to keep relationships with family members and so on, basically doing something for everyone but Marcus. That don’t work, you have to put yourself first, you have to take care of self, you have to love yourself firstly and fiercely. Cuz if not, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?
That’s why it’s so important to practice self-care, especially when you’re working hard and working constantly. It doesn’t have to be something big, you can do something as simple as turn on “Back That Ass Up” and twerk and/or set it out in your living room. You can sit back and get you a good drink or even a blunt (provided of course, it’s legal where you are. Don’t ever say Marcus encouraged you to break the law). While many people may be able to take large extended breaks from what they do, those of us who work A LOT have to make our own time to care for ourselves, because if not we could easily succumb to stress and even depression. So have fun, unwind and have fun where and when you can. Know that you can’t be serious all the time and that’s okay. Laugh at an ignant movie, have a get together with close friends, participate in a silly online debate, do whatever you need to do to keep yourself sane and happy. And always remember one thing: put you some sugar on them grits.
How do YOU practice self-care? List some methods below as well as any other questions, comments, or concerns you have! And don't forget to like, share, and subscribe!