World Views on Self-Care and Wellness
While traveling around the world and meeting people on social media, I've gathered interviews of folk's perspective on self-care and wellness. I am excited to share their insights and encouraging words with you! Check them out below!
Gabriel Oboki Neriman
Meet Gabi a teacher, activist and youth advocate living in Nairobi, Kenya.
What does self-care mean to you? It is the wellbeing of someone, happiness. You like what you are doing in life.
How did you get into self-care and wellness?Growing up in Kibera, I experienced peer pressure and I went through a phase of experimenting with drugs. I soon realized there was no happiness there. My friends got deep into it, mugging people, getting killed. During that time I joined a group that took me through trainings of how to live well and how people can come out of drug abuse. I learned that if I am not sober then I am not well, because I'm not able to use my free mind to be well and happy. There is joy in living a healthy life.
What struggles are there in maintaining self care and wellness? Poverty and unemployment. For example, when we were abusing drugs it put us in a mind set of not feeling down about our situation and when not using drugs we were faced with the reality of life. And even once someone stops using drugs and recover they are often met with discrimination because of their past, this makes it difficult for them to maintain healthy ways of living.
How do you share self-care and wellness with others? It’s what I do everyday through teaching and trainings and forums. SAPTA is an addiction prevention and treatment program. We also focus on HIV, AIDS and reproductive health. School of Hope is a center for youth in the Kibera slum. We teach them about sanitation, health, peace, technology, English and Swahili. Both of these programs mean a lot to me because of my experience in the slum and I want the youth living there today to have a better life as they grow up.
Bee Berry Jiraporn
A friendly adventurer and happiness seeker living in Thailand.
What does self care mean to you? It’s many things, sometimes its just traveling somewhere. You don’t have to go outside of your country, just somewhere you have never been or a place that will challenge you. Go see new people - new places. The problem won’t be fixed, but your mind will be more ready to address the issue.
How did you get into self-care? We have been taught like this from childhood to be peaceful, though it takes some time to really get the concept. Sometimes we look weak because we are not fighting, we try to keep peace and be positive. I’m not quick to meditate but I don't use my time fighting, I forgive and forget. Why struggle for things that don’t belong to me? Sometimes the winner is the loser in reality.
How do you maintain self-care? I have a strong family that supports me a lot. If I have a broken heart I can talk to my mom, or if I want to go out and do something different she never tries to stop me. I also have friends that listen to me and cry with me even if they can't do anything. I work to stay positive and love myself, meaning I don't want to make myself unhappy for too long. So if I'm feeling down sometimes I get something good to eat, go to the beach, get a massage - I remember the pain is not forever. Happy is not forever either but neither is unhappy. But we are human so it's hard. Sometimes I feel stressed but then I see the children on the street with no arm and I think to myself I am very lucky, there is no reason for me to long for more.
How do you share self-care? I don’t think I’m good at it, but I am a good listener. When other people are going through things I take them out, give them something else to do rather than sitting and being sad. I also understand that some times people don’t want an answer to their problem because they already know it, so I just try to support. For example I don’t blame them if I told them a guy was bad and then things don’t work out, I just support them through that moment. When I keep myself happy it’s easy to care for others.I post positive things, I've noticed that when people post sad things people just ask "What happened?" but they don't do anything to help anyway so better to share the positive.
A man of faith, father and wellness influencer, living in Pasadena, California, U.S.A.
-What does self-care mean to you? Being able to have and practice self awareness. There are many sides to it, I focus a lot on the mental health side of it rather than the get your nails and hair done or happy hour aspects. For instance if a person is struggling with finances or lives in an underprivileged area, they may need some coping skills to deal with everyday stressors.
-How did you get into self care? I worked in mental health for the past 2 years, doing group therapy as a substance abuse counselor, 60 day program dealing with addiction, depression, and anxiety, and I saw a pattern and theme throughout the interventions over the course of the past 2 years which was that negative self talk, shame and guilt kept coming up. That struck my nerve and I was like hmm I deal with this stuff too, and found myself growing professionally and personally by working in this environment and once I was helping others identify these issues I was able to identify these things in myself.
-What struggles are there in maintaining self-care? I think just the guilt that comes with it, because it takes humility to be able to admit there is a problem, not only to tell someone else but to tell yourself in the mirror. And when you don’t know that you have a problem, you don’t know that you don’t know. And then you have to have the ability to actually do something about the issue when you do realize it.
-How do you share self-care with others? Through different aspects of the self. I have Best Version a lifestyle brand, it focuses on faith, fitness and wellness. Humility falls under Faith that things will be okay although I can’t see past my nose. Wellness is about the energy you attract and the managing environments you are in. Fitness is being active, whether it’s physically, mentally or spiritually. Being able to sustain stamina throughout the day, not just going to gym.
A mild, mindful, martial artist living in London, England.
-What does the word self-care mean? I’d say putting yourself first in terms of your mental stability and well being. Making sure that you are taking care of and addressing your mental well being, so that you are not overworked and are taking time to look into yourself.
-How did you get into self-care? I find that too many people just focus on working and that is their only interest and they spend their whole life just working. I like to take time out just to be with myself and explore myself and not just on a physical level but more spiritually and mentally. I’ve always done martial arts such as Tai Chi which focuses on mental discipline in conjunction with physical discipline. I also started a mindfulness practice at the beginning of this year, we put away our phones and just focused on the exercises. We focused on ourselves in a way that wasn't selfish. I felt the most calm and relaxed I ever have.
-What are some struggles in maintaining self care? The main one is having to work because it takes up about 10-12 hours of your day with travel and all and then you come home and try to unwind and then your thinking about the day and this takes time away from working on yourself and leaves you drained and tired, and it can become prolonged to a point where you are so engrossed with work. To find time to sit and meditate and reflect on yourself is hard and its a habit that needs to be developed and if you fail just keep working on it, struggle is normal and very human.
-How do you share self care with others? With colleagues I speak about mindfulness and the benefits it’s had for me and suggest courses to them and explain that it is peaceful and such. I also am about to embark on a mindfulness teaching course so that I can share it with young people to give them strategies to use. It’s best to share this with children so they can have a go to guide to deal with their emotions and anxiety etc. that come up in their school and home lives.
A perpetual work in progress, who is newly committed to sharing her journey of self-love and acceptance, living in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
-What does self-care mean to you? It means self-preservation, selflessness, it also correlates with mental health.
-What spurred you to get involved in self-care? Over the course of the past couple of years I felt an unhappiness. I was in the mind frame of getting a good job and just having impressive credentials. For 2 years I worked for this big company and always made sure I was available to them, and it seemed like the more money I made the more broke I was. I just wasn’t putting any time into myself. After two years I decided that I needed some clarity and I felt like I was becoming an angry person, and I didn’t know who to blame. I had also met someone in the relationship I was very codependent, and their goals became my goals and I lost focus. So between the career thing and relationship not working out, fear kicked in and I was forced to turn to myself. I started having honest conversations with myself about how I needed to take accountability for my actions, and I came up with the term “with all this love”. I was doing things with the wrong intentions, for money etc. I was really broke after leaving the job for a year and I really had nothing to offer except what I had internally, thus I began to do the internal work of having every action be done in love.
What were some of your struggles in sticking to self care practices? Being disciplined. I have to actively take time to meditate and be in silence. I panic more, I overthink and go to worse case scenario when I don’t. It’s like exercise. It’s my form of exercise, and it took some months to get there. Like I’ll do it for 10 days straight and then fall off. It’s hard to stay consistent and it’s tough to drop bad habits. I have times when I want to be defensive because of past experiences, but I can’t do that if I really want to be open. And the ego for sure is the number one enemy.
How do you work to share self care with others? I’d been writing letters to myself every year for my birthday, and I one day I got the notion to post these self conversations - sometimes heavy sometimes playful. I have a Wordpress blog, it’s not so much for people to see and is more for me to push myself out of my comfort zone. I started this in June and I’ve gotten positive feedback from people I know and people I don’t know. It’s nice to know that I am connecting with people. Sharing my struggle has been helpful to people, but I haven’t solved anything.
Stephanie Jordan Jacobs
Mother, photographer and cancer survivor living in Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
-What does the term self-care mean to you? The reason I chose to do this interview is because I have a chronic illness, and it’s like how did you get here and what do you do when you arrive? So for me self care means to take time out for yourself. Part of this for me is making sure I am taking care of my children well, because that makes me feel relaxed and is easy on me. Yes, it’s pampering yourself, yes please do that, like when I was pregnant. But some people think that it is the ultimate form of self-care. And yes it’s nice to get your nails done, hair done, massage, but that is not real for everyone. Self-care means to really value what is important to yourself, and take time for that. I wish people knew that when they were 20 years old, that it’s about what is important to you, it doesn’t have to be what everyone else is doing and what is important to us will change with time. And you don’t have to announce it, you can quietly do those things. After my amputation, my mom was ready to have me move out of the city. But I took down my old blinds, and put up some new blinds, bought some new linens, got a color theme going on, replaced the toilet paper holder. That makes me the biggest difference. It changes the energy. People are asking me why am I doing that because they don’t understand what makes me feel good. I would also say that nutritious food is important to self-care and should be something you sit down and enjoy, mentally as well as taste wise.
-What spurred you to get involved in self-care?You actually. When we met at that restaurant after the election and I followed you on Instagram that exposed me to different aspects of it. You really made me pay attention, and made me think like it’s okay I really don’t have to do that today, I really should take a minute for myself right now. Many women of color don’t even know what that means no matter how educated they may be.
-What were some of your struggles in sticking to self care practices? Relationships, be it marriage or friends, because they have a lot of opinions about what you should be doing, i.e. Why aren’t you answering your phone? And also thinking I needed permission to do the things that made me feel good.
-How do you work to share self care with others?Right now I am not really thinking about anybody else, I tell people to slow up and tell them that the things they are worried about are not that deep. And I think people think that I am saying some of those things because I have cancer. Hopefully they can grab a hold of what I am doing and I can lead by example. You can say whatever you want to people but they are going to look at what you are doing. I listen to what my body is telling me. We really don’t listen to our inner self enough. We can’t praise and worry. I really came to terms with my faith in God and really have seen prayer work, really having this inner sense of belief. I came to this place where I think lots of people with chronic illness get and it’s a place where there is no fear. I have to believe I will be alright in order to be alright. I say it, I believe it and I think it’s going to be done. Self Care really has carried me through my darkest times.
A yoga instructor, masseuse, and clean eating cook living in Graeme Hall, Barbados.
-What does the term self-care mean to you? It means taking care of myself in a very holistic manner, not just health, but also spiritually. It’s moving slowly and meditating throughout the day. It’s what I eat, it’s keeping where I live peaceful, it’s surrounding myself with lots of laughter and good thoughts, it’s having like minded people around me, and avoiding people with energy that is not aligned with me.
-What spurred you to get involved in self-care? It goes back many years, when I was pregnant with my daughter 26-27 years ago. My pregnancy wasn’t the best. I had low energy, and had prolonged issues even after she was born. After seeing doctors and not getting anywhere I went the natural way, and after seeing a naturopath I started exploring my health and little by little I changed. I changed my diet and I got into massage therapy. I wanted to do something I thought would help people and also help myself. I always used massage to nurture my children if they felt sick, the touch really helped them. When I realized that I was going to be sharing my energy with people I knew I had to take care of myself. It’s food, it’s thinking the right thoughts and going at the right pace, it's laughing and having happy people around me. It’s been a long journey.
-What were some of your struggles in sticking to self care practices? Time is the biggest one, especially with a family, and business; it’s not the easiest thing to manage, particularly when you have young children. I used to fast to cleanse my body and spirit and would make to mugs of soup and the children would want some, so you see it can be hard when you are managing a family. It's also important to note that there are layers to this. I went to a retreat and was in tears because I felt I hadn't gotten as far as I thought I did on my spiritual and emotional journey. You might think you’ve done the work but then you find there is always more work to do.
-How do you work to share self care with others?Everyday with my friends as I meet them. I’ve learned to hold back a bit and if self-care is something that I see is an interest to them then I share, but I start slowly. Some are interested some are not, if they are not interested I just share what I do but I don’t try to pressure them. I also share via conversations with friends and my yoga, food and massage clients.