5/4/2020 0 Comments
April 25, 2011: ok, I think I get it now: when you feel like you absolutely have no time for anything else, that's when making time for self-care is the most important. I'm feeling so good and clear and productive after my morning workout on my 2 lectures day.
I enjoy looking at the memories that pop up during my morning scroll on my Facebook timeline. When this little gem popped up a few days ago, I immediately shared it because it seems all the more relevant now. My 4 year old son has been out of school since Friday, March 13, so I have now been a work from home/homeschooling mama for six weeks. This time has made me reflect a lot more on the self-care practices that are life-sustaining for me.
Another flashback: on November 5, 2012 I published “A Black Academic Woman’s Self-Care Manifesto” on The Feminist Wire.At the time, I was on my 4thyear of the tenure-track at Spelman College. I was unmarried with no small children. I prided myself on being able to set firm boundaries around my time:
“For me, self-care quite simply means setting boundaries on how and when I work. I refuse to run myself into the ground by working around the clock with no time for rest and relaxation. The academy tends to privilege a lack of sleep, workaholic tendencies, and scholarly productivity at the expense of everything else. I refuse to sacrifice my nights and (whole) weekends for work. Evenings are reserved for exercise, family time, home-cooked meals, and general “down time,” and I will not be made to feel guilty about that.”
Oh, how times have changed. Now I am a tenured Associate Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Sociology and Anthropology Department. Now I am a whole married woman with a 17 year old stepdaughter (who lives with us full-time as her mother is in another country) and a 4 year old son. Now we are living in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused changes to our lives that we have never seen before, nor could we have ever anticipated. Now I have to figure out how to do my full-time job in a half a day so that I can spend the other half of the day homeschooling my 4 year old. There is no boundary between work and home. Work life bleeds into home life bleeds into work life… Many of you may be managing similar struggles, trying to figure out a healthy routine in these unprecedented circumstances.
In times like these, being committed to self-care becomes even more important. As someone who suffers from anxiety and a family history of diabetes, I feel an even stronger need to take physical exercise and stress relief very seriously. Here are some things I’ve been doing:
I’ve been taking full advantage of virtual offerings to get workouts in. “In the before” I was never big on home workouts. I loved doing exercise classes – I belonged to a kickboxing gym, and had a Classpass membership that would allow me to try out different fitness classes in studios around metro Atlanta. However, luckily I had begun building up my home workout equipment “in the before” I got a yoga mat, cushion, blocks, and strap; got 5, 10, and 15lb dumbbells, and resistance bands. My kickboxing gym has my favorite coaches posting videos, so sometimes I do that as my workout. There is a nice (not crowded), wooded trail near my house, and my son and I go for walks on it a few times a week. An Afro-Colombian dance and Zumba teacher has been teaching dance/Zumba classes 3x a week on Twitch for free, and I have joined into her class as often as possible. Also, Classpass has expanded to offering members an opportunity to sign up for livestream classes all around the world – and some are for 0 credits! I only pay $12 a month for a certain number of credits for classes, and if classes are in the low range then I can squeeze in quite a few per month. I have done yoga, HIIT, and meditation classes via Classpass livestream offerings. They also have workout videos posted. I also have a once-weekly workout via Zoom with a friend who lives in Chicago, and join into an NYC friend’s workout class two mornings a week. After a few weeks, getting my daily dose of exercise has finally become a habit. It makes me feel good, strong, refreshed. Sometimes I’ll do it at 8am or 6:30pm, depending on what I have going on for the day.
What ideas do you have about self-care during the pandemic? What works for you?
Dr. Erica L. Williams is Associate Professor and Chair of Sociology and Anthropology at Spelman College. She is also a member of the Cite Black Women Collective. Her full bio is available on our Collective members' page on this site.