Here we are, a couple days after Valentine’s Day. The dust has settled and love is just a tumbleweed rolling down the aisles of retailers that are offering candied hearts, goo-filled chocolates, faux silk flowers, teddy bears and heart-themed jammies at a cool 25-30% off. Pro-tip: savings will probably grow to a full 75% off if you wait until Sunday.
Valentine’s Day is bankable because embedded in principles of love is the understanding that it is a shared experience. We are bred to love others starting with the people that had hands in raising us. Our love expanded when we added more people to our tribe. And, at some point in between, we were taught to love mankind. Valentine’s Day tugs at our instincts to express what we learned about love.
And so, while retailers are rolling back the love, we decided that today’s the perfect day to ramp up on some self-love. That in mind, Shoppe Black declares that, from this day forward, February 16th will be known International Self-Love Day (echo, echo, echo). Just go with it. Grab you some discounted merch and love up on yo’ self.
Inspired by the political shitshow forced up our spirits, International Self-Love Day was conceived (read: totally made up) to remind you, dear reader, to unplug and practice joy. While we’re in the lab chatting ribbon colors and brainstorming taglines, we challenge you to use this new holiday to workshop ideas on how you can hashtag resist and divest at the same damn time.
To help get you started, we asked a few of our readers how they practice self-care.
Bradford Knight is a freelance make-up artist living in Harlem, NY.
“When I’m stressed I like to prepare myself a nice fulfilling breakfast and give myself a manicure. I work with my hands so they are my most important tool. My profession requires that they be clean and neat. I spent years having them professionally done, but about 5 years ago I decided to take on the task myself. I actually didn’t do for economic reasons. I did it because I use my hands to make people feel beautiful everyday so it was important for me to give that love back to myself in a small way and I felt that I was the best person to do it.
I consulted with one of my best friends, who happens to be a nail tech, about the tools I would need and how to properly execute a good manicure. I went to a local beauty supply store and bought all my utensils and got to work. I even made my own hand scrub out of a concoction of coconut oil and sugar.
My manicures last for 45 minutes to an hour. I’m able to give myself the love, if only for a short while, that I’m giving to others for 8 hours (or longer) a day. It sounds cliche, but you must love yourself before you can give it to others.
I learned that self-care was important very early on in my career in beauty, yet I didn’t practice it until much later. My work requires a lot of energy so when I was done, the last thing I wanted to do was spend time in a spa or salon. I would much rather veg out with TV or bake a pie. Only in the last 10 years have I really appreciated how one hour every two weeks can renew my spirit. And, it does not have to be in a salon or spa. It can happen in whatever space is safe and rejuvenating for you. For me, it’s doing my manicure at my dining table listening to 70’s or 80’s R&B. For someone else it could be a weekend at a spa out of town.”
You can follow Bradford’s self-love journey @justbradford on IG.
Erica Sewell is a creative recruiter/consultant living and playing in Oakland, CA.
“I relieve stress by being still. While still living in NYC— I moved there when I was 21— I had lots of energy and could run the streets from day-to-night on a liquid diet with ease. As I got older, the hustle and pace started to wear me out more so I began implementing some life changes. My diet improved, I started cooking more and drinking less, and making adult decisions like understanding that I didn’t need to attend everything that I was invited to. It’s okay to get some rest and recharge sometimes.
I have always done yoga and prayed, but I really wanted to figure out how to meditate properly. When I lived in Brooklyn I took yoga at Sacred, where lots of dope women of color instructors would end the class with a meditation, but I never felt like I fully grasped it. I always did the Oprah & Deepak Chopra meditation challenges, but I would be thinking about everything from my next meal, to my to-do list. I finally went on a meditation retreat in Panama last year, organized by guru Light Watkins and he taught me that the goal is to quiet the mind but it’s ok if other thoughts come up during your meditation. Now I meditate twice a day. I also try to have sage and/or palo santo burning in my space when things get too cray.
I meditate for 20 minutes when I first wake up and 20 minutes at around 2pm. It’s tempting to immediately wake up and grab your phone to check to see what you’ve missed in this crazy world (especially now for me being 3 hrs behind on the west coast, I always feel like I’m the last to know the madness). Meditating before I do anything prepares me to deal with whatever crazy news is on my phone. Same with my work day – that 20 minutes breaks up the busy and stressful days. I have also been so much clearer and discerning since taking the time to get quiet daily.
I live near a beautiful lake that calms me and I walk along a portion of it on my route home sometimes, but really want to start the days that I work from home with a walk around the entire lake, which is 3 miles total. I need the sunshine, the exercise and the nature. I’m also still seeking the right hot yoga studio, but in the meantime I try to do a sauna, steam or bath house whenever possible. Sweating it out and healing waters are some of my all time favorite things.”
Follow Erica jetset around the world @escape_art.
Nzingah Oniwosan is a social entrepreneur and holistic health consultant living in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
“I had a major anxiety attack and was going to a counselor at that the time. We felt that an intentional self-care practice was crucial for me to deal with my daily stressors as an entrepreneur as well as the trauma that led me to seek counseling.
Now, I usually put myself in timeout when I am overwhelmed. I give myself a minimum 10-20 minutes to connect inward and remove myself from external distractors (social media, phone, internet, etc.) In this time, I practice breathing exercises, journal, meditate, or practice yoga which allows me to include the breathing and meditation. It helps me reduce the internal anxiety I may be feeling. It is almost a reset to give me a clear mind to go on with my day. I have been practicing this consistently for 6 years.
I also love to use aromatherapy. I diffuse different essential oils to support whatever mood I want to achieve. I love lavender. Sometimes I take myself on dates, it is not always in outing. I give myself breakfast in bed and 5 course candlelight dinners.
However, yoga has been the most critical. It has helped me to practice mindfulness and allowed my to reduce my stress significantly. Most importantly has really assisted me to have a regimented self-care practice.
I had a major anxiety attack and was going to a counselor at that the time. We felt that an intentional self-care practice was crucial for me to deal with my daily stressors as an entrepreneur as well as the trauma I was seeking counseling for.
Self-care is important to me because I have an autoimmune disorder that I have been able to keep in remission through holistic lifestyle change. If I’m stressed out even when I’m eating well it can send my autoimmune disorder out of remission. I am in business of giving of myself and I pour a lot out, which also means I get depleted. My personal self care practice is a means to restore and balance.”
You can follow Nzingah’s vegan adventure @yesbabyilikeitraw on IG.
“Marcus Paul is an image and creative consultant living in Brooklyn, NY.
I invest in myself by practicing Kyokushin karate 2-3 times a week. It provides a spiritual and physical balance for me. I started to fully commit to a workout regiment about 2 years ago. I have also known that self-care was important, but I would go hard for a few months and then fall off. Now I am more disciplined. I travel on average about 30 percent of the time and it is hard to keep up when I am away. I do some stretching exercises when I am away.
Find what centers you and make it a habit.”
Follow Marcus @marcuspaulstyle on IG.