words by Carly S. (she/her)
2020 will be remembered as the year of stress, struggles, and hopefully self-care. Between the COVID19 pandemic, a stressful presidential election, and an entire summer of protests against police brutality, self-care has become way more than a frivolous luxury and has become an important part of surviving during a difficult time in our individual lives.
Self care can seem shallow If you’re only going by what you’re seeing on social media and consumerism in general. It can be easy to conflate self-care as only candles, bubble baths, and yoga pants for people who are financially secure. Self-care is a very individual and ever evolving idea. It can include nearly any activity that a person could use to calm, heal, and protect themselves in the midst of difficulties. A common way of participating in self-care can involve getting enough sleep, eating well, physical exercise, meditating and doing activities you enjoy.
In the 1980s, activist and writer Audre Lorde amplified the intersectionality of self-care and civil rights as she dealt with cancer. Audre Lorde’s writings focus on the importance of self-preservation as a foundation for community building. “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare," Lorde wrote in A Burst of Light and Other Essays.
With the pandemic still causing ongoing issues and the world feeling like it’s coming to a boiling point, you might not be taking the time to even give thought to your self care routine. But that’s why I’m here to remind you to make yourself a priority in 2021. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed up by a sense of helplessness, but you have to keep in mind, we aren’t helpless! There are things within our control that we can focus on. Take a deep breath, have you drunk enough water? Have you eaten today? Take the time to really notice your posture. When humans get stressed, we tend to tighten up, hunch over, and make our bodies as small as possible. Roll your shoulders back and down. Gently turn your neck from side to side. Sway your hips from side to side. Rock your pelvis forward and backwards.If you're experiencing pandemic fatigue or just feeling overwhelmed, it can be difficult to think beyond your immediate needs.
Prioritize intimate health.
Try a natural, holistic path to tackle issues head on, instead of only minimizing or temporarily relieving symptoms like itching, or irritation stemming from infections, pH imbalance, or general discomfort from sex, clothing, or exercise. Incorporate Momotaro Salve to safely and naturally work with your body to help balance pH and naturally supports your body’s natural ability to heal itself. Even adding a probiotic can help protect, promote, and maintain a healthy gut, immune system, and even vaginal microbiome.
Did you forget last year’s OBGYN checkup? I understand the healthcare situation last year was complicated, but it’s so important to remember to take care of your body, so it can take care of you! It’s much easier to be aware of how to best take care of yourself rather than trying to retroactively deal with issues that arise. Go to your doctor for an annual appointment, keep a list of things you want to bring up with your doctor so you don’t forget in the moment, and treat yourself to a full STI panel for peace of mind. Knowledge is empowering.
Treat yourself to more solo time.
Any self care list worth your time will include some type of alone time, and what can be more loving for yourself than some tried and true masturbation? Masturbation is like all encompassing self care: it’s good for your mood, overall wellness, and can even make your skin glow. Grab a waterproof sex toy and put a few drops of Tonic into your bath, or use it on your intimate skin or elsewhere after your bath to take the time to show your body some love. Even if your skin is extremely sensitive like mine, you can safely use this oil anywhere externally for luxurious hydration without harsh chemicals and fake fragrances usually found in bubble bath products and other traditional body soaps and lotions. Even better yet, if you’re dealing with painful period cramps, a relaxing tonic-infused soak can help. The Cedarwood Virginia and Sweet Orange essential oils can aid in stimulating blood flow, relieving tense muscles, and can also act as an anti-inflammatory, which can help minimize bloating. The beautiful hint of citrus can also help elevate your mood!
Incorporate toys into your playtime.
Adding toys into your partner or solo play is a guaranteed way to heat things up. From a classic bullet, and wands to dildos, kegel trainers and suction toys that work to mimic a mouth on your clit, there’s a toy out there for everyone's individual desires. Trying a new sensation can be a turn on for you and your partner, even if it doesn’t become a bedroom staple. Think about what kind of sensation you’re looking for when you’re thinking of adding a toy to your rotation. Maybe you love G-spot stimulation, so now you want to explore a dual stimulator for clitoral stimulation and G-spot stimulation at the same time. Or maybe backdoor exploration has you curious! There’s no rules to exploring your body. Think of sex shops as a pleasure tool store to aid in your pleasure discovery!
Take one small positive step.
When you get overwhelmed making changes it becomes even harder to make a small change. Your daily habits affect every aspect of your day to day life. Aristotle wrote that "we are what we repeatedly do." So despite your natural inclination to make large sweeping changes to your life, the easiest and most successful way to get lasting results is to make small changes to daily habits. If you’re trying to improve your sleep schedule, think about simply reducing screen time before bed, or trying to maintain a bedtime routine, try to keep the room you sleep in cool (but not cold). Try to take each day and it’s individual challenges as they come.
Prioritize things that brings you joy.
The only person that can make self care a priority is you. So you have to commit to taking care of yourself by making the time to do the things that nourish you and bring you joy. Figure out what that thing is for you. Of course the typical self care you frequently hear about are things like taking an extra long bath, which is great but not all there is. Remember that movement can bring joy to some, so maybe dancing in your living room, or practicing yoga can be something you can spend time doing for self care. Then refresh your skin with a quick spritz of organic Hydrosol. Nourishing your brain by reading a chapter of your favourite book, or doing a crossword puzzle can be a joy. Even cooking something tasty and nourishing for dinner, or meditating using an app, or even none of the above! Figure out something that will bring you happiness in the moment.
Connect with friends and family.
It’s of the utmost importance to connect with people we love right now. Social connections are incredibly important for our mental, as well as our physical health.And while romantic love is amazing, prioritizing your platonic friendships can enrich your life. Try to schedule some time to video chat, or send a friend a voice note! Social connections are especially important if you live alone. While digital connections are no substitute for a hug from a friend, we’re lucky to live in a time where these connections are still possible. Set up a digital hang out to watch your favorite drama and grab your snacks and spend some socially distant time with your friends.
Practice setting boundaries.
It might sound simple, but everyone should practice saying no. Many folks struggle with that one simple syllable. We might be concerned about letting others down or perhaps you’re concerned with turning down opportunities, some of us have even been taught that it’s selfish to say no. At the end of the day you’re responsible for preserving enough of your time, energy and space for your own mental, and physical well-being. Learning that you simply can not say yes to everybody and every opportunity. That’s an easy way to become burnt out, and even resentful because you’ve overcommitted without thinking about your own needs. So today, start practicing and working on getting comfortable with saying no and not apologizing, or justifying your choice. It can be a verbatim “no” or it could also sound like, “I appreciate you for thinking of me, but the timing isn’t right. Let’s check in with each other in a few weeks.” If this is particularly difficult, try writing out and practice some scripts to get more comfortable.
Shop the Story
Get Glowing SHOP TONIC
Refresh SHOP HYDROSOL
Soothe Stress SHOP THE DAILY DUO
Balance SHOP PROBIOTIC
Stuff You Should Know: Sex & Aftercare by Lina Dune (she/her)
Meet the Author
Carly S. (she/her) is a self proclaimed "Queen of Wands, sex educator, porn star, model, sex blogger, and a bad bitch from the Bronx." Read her work on dildoordildont.com and follow along at @makeupandsin.