Our world is not set up to support our health. Media images reinforce toxic messages, health care can be difficult to attain and is rarely holistic, mothers do not receive adequate postpartum care, and a sense of belonging and connection can be difficult to find.
In a world where no one will give you your right to health, the only option is to claim it - fiercely and without apology. This article will cover several categories of well-being and how to claim your right to a vital and healthy life.
What do you know about your body and how to care for it? Do you know how to honor your rhythms? How to rest? How to eat for nourishment and vitality? Many of us lacked education about our female bodies and their rhythms and specific needs. Women are constantly told through media reinforcement that our bodies are not good enough: thin enough, pretty enough, small enough, hairless enough, or pleasing enough to others. Here are some concrete practices to reclaim your right to body-love and nourishment.
edit your social media - delete accounts that make you feel bad about your body and follow body-positive accounts that support you in loving your body
learn how to eat for your body - identify food allergies, do experiments to learn when and what your body likes to eat, develop intuitive eating, get support if you are struggling with your relationship to food, learn what your menstruating body needs during different stages of your cycle
discover what makes your body feel delicious, beautiful, and good - find out what movement your body loves, what kind of sex it likes, and what kind of touch makes it happy
set fierce and loving physical boundaries - determine who is allowed to touch you and come into your personal space, when, and how
discover how to add more rest into your life wherever you can - decide to prioritize sleep and rest and put things in place for you to be able to carry out this need
support your nervous system - discover which activities calm your nervous system and support your sense of well-being
Are you aware of the thoughts going on in your head throughout the day? Do you know that you are not your thoughts and you can develop better self-talk and mindfulness? Are you aware of the impact of media on your thoughts?
develop a loving and compassionate mind - identify patterns of self-criticism, harshness, and self-judgment, learn to track your thoughts and invite healthier thoughts into your day
share your worries with a trusted person who will respond with love - try not to be alone with difficult thoughts, find people who will be kind to you when you are vulnerable about your experience, develop strategies for inviting worrying thoughts to leave
limit and curate media and social media experiences - make media intake a conscious choice and control what you watch, listen to, and see
get support to manage unruly thoughts and critical self-beliefs
develop a meditation practice - research shows the impact of meditation for just 5 minutes a day can change the structure of your brain and allow for more focus and less anxiety
observe your relationship to judging others and making assumptions on a daily basis; often the more we judge others the meaner we are to ourselves
3. Reproductive Health
What did you learn about your female body? Are you aware of the impact your birth control has on your body and mind? If you are a menstruating woman, do you know how to support your body through hormonal changes and variable needs throughout the month? Do you know how to practice safe and satisfying sex? Are you aware of how to take care of your unique female anatomy?
become informed about your particular anatomy, hormones, and needs - develop knowledge about how your cycle works, what effect your birth control has on you, and how to take care of your reproductive organs (like vaginal steaming)
consider developing a lifestyle that honors your changing needs throughout the month - schedule you life around differing cognitive strengths and needs for socialization, organization, rest and solitude
empower yourself to learn about how your body works sexually - become informed about how to experience sexual pleasure, how your sexuality works, and how the female body experiences arousal
advocate for postpartum care - if you gave birth, there are specific needs for your postpartum time and it is likely your body needs bodywork to restore your health and vitality. It is never to late to reach out for this type of restorative work!
get support for difficult experiences - find a safe and supportive place to process experiences of sexual assault, miscarriage, abortion, and birth trauma. These experiences live in the body, but can be healed and released.
take control of your sexual experiences - determine what works for you, what level of risk you are willing to take, and what you desire. Be responsible for this and stand up for your needs in sexual encounters.
develop self-compassion around your experience of pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding, and mothering - you are doing the best that you can, it is okay to grieve what did not go as planned, and it is important to set a boundaries around judgment from others
It is common to be in toxic or difficult relationships, to have difficulty asserting boundaries, and to wonder if it is possible to be loved in the way that works for us. We create relationships with others out of what we know - what we learned growing up from those around us, from media, and from our own experiences. As adults, it can take time and dedication to reevaluate, heal, and establish nourishing relationships.
spend time learning what a healthy relationship looks like - investigate what beliefs you inherited about how relationships work and what you would like to embody instead
identify toxic behavior in yourself and those around you - empower yourself to know what abuse and criticism look like and embolden yourself to cut toxic people out of your life (this usually requires support!)
allow yourself time and space to heal relationship wounds
share your feelings and concerns with safe and supportive people - try to reach out; keeping these experiences secret just makes them stronger and more difficult
spend energy determining what you desire in your friendships, family relationships, and partnerships
invite people into your life who love you, accept you, and support you and nourish these relationships
allow yourself to cut people out of your life if they refuse to treat you with love and respect
What beliefs have you picked up from living in a colonized society? Are you aware of how concepts of sexism, racism, and homophobia interact with ideas about family values, education, and social ties? While systems of oppression assert power over people, there are subtle ways to resist and maintain your health.
become educated about the history of colonization and learn about creative resistance to being colonized
learn about intersectionality, how privilege plays out in your life, and ways to use your power to liberate instead of control
connect with your roots, your ancestors, and your community to find refuge, joy, and vitality (sometimes you must part ways with your roots and find a different community in order to be supported)
prioritize yourself and your well-being over other people - allow yourself to release people who abuse or oppress you, connect to healthy community to survive instances of violence and oppression
consider social activism as an antidote to depression and anxiety - discover what cause would bring you alive, what would fill you up and help you feel greater confidence and self-worth
develop a policy around emotional labor - decide where, when, with whom, and how you would like to offer emotional labor to an oppressor group (if ever)
connect with people who are like-minded, who believe in your worth and understand that experiences of oppression are real and very toxic
Do you have practices that keep you going in the face of difficulty? What do you do to manage the vast and complex world we live in? How are you able to keep hope and optimism alive amidst difficulty and darkness? Luckily, lots of people have gone before and offered their take: poets, philosophers, religious practitioners, and many more. What do you turn to in times of need?
identify three books/musicians/people that offer you comfort, hope, and resilience in times of need
seek out mentors and heroes to look to - these could be authors, artists, revolutionaries, parents, friends, or characters
consider developing a contemplative practice, such as meditation, prayer, writing in a journal, or sharing your heart with a trusted friend
determine who you will turn to in times of need - look at who you have in your life who can help you with difficult human questions and challenges
find people who have gone through what you are going through and come out the other side
pay attention to what makes you feel alive, connected, and hopeful and cultivate more of those activities and people in your life
allow for difficult emotions to arrive and pass through you - grief, anger, sadness, and despair
After reading through these possibility, I invite you to go through this list, pick the category most in need of attention, and identify one thing you would like to do to develop greater love and support in this category of your life. No matter what you have come through, you deserve to have a beautiful, full, and vital life. Reach out if you're interested in more support!