Self-Care Through the Ages: The Rituals and Perspectives of 5 WOC

As individual as we are from one person to the next, so are our self-care rituals. What does it mean to slow down, to nurture ourselves? How do we tackle the day and still feel like ourselves? And how do we learn, as time goes on, what works best for us?

We asked, and women around the world answered. Here we profile 5 women from a range of life stages being honest about how they take care of themselves (and also where they sometimes fail). From feeling good to creating clarity, from hiking to ice cream, they show us what self-care looks like and how it serves their individual lives and goals.

This photograph is from Sydney’s personal archives.

This photograph is from Sydney’s personal archives.

Sydney Hussett

Age: 22

Location: Brampton

Occupation: Clinical Operations Associate

Find her at: @shopblkcustoms

What does self-care mean to you?

Personally, I believe self-care means taking steps to strengthen your body, mind, and mind-body connection. This can look different for everyone, but I think it's important to find rituals that work the best for you, and not compare yourself to others when deciding what that is. Self-care means consistently putting yourself first, loving yourself the most, and making yourself happy.

Self-care means consistently putting yourself first, loving yourself the most, and making yourself happy.

What are your self-care rituals?

There is something about getting my heart rate above 170 that gives me immense clarity, focus, and almost a euphoric high. This typically involves cardio paired with weight training. Creating art allows me to express myself via a creative outlet, allowing my mind to relax and run free. Going on long walks gives me time to reflect while being active. Reading, sudoku, and crosswords allow me to work my mind while my body is able to relax. Recently I bought roller skates, and while I'm still learning, it is a great way to connect with my body, focus on movement, and have fun.

How have these rituals impacted your mental well-being?

All of these rituals either work my mind while relaxing my body, or work my body while relaxing my mind. I find that having a balance of these rituals positively impacts my mind-body connection. I find I am more positive, focused, and reflective while doing these rituals, giving me the foundation I need to better focus on my work and goals.

 

This photograph is from Sydney’s personal archives.

This photograph is from Sydney’s personal archives.

How do you prioritize your self-care amidst work, family, friends, etc?

More often than not, there are not enough hours in the day, and so I will often invite friends and family to join me in my activities to get that bonding time in. For example, my best friend Saphera (@safrahs.studio) is a digital artist, and we often have studio sessions where we both create art and listen to music while enjoying each other’s company. I am also not afraid to set boundaries, and tell others that I need space when I am overwhelmed.

What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

I'm not sure if this constitutes a guilty pleasure, but I love staying in bed all day on Sundays. I don't know what it is about Sundays, but it makes me want to rest in bed all day, take a nice bubble bath with some candles, drink wine and do a face mask, and really take care of myself.

This photograph is from Jasmin’s personal archives.

This photograph is from Jasmin’s personal archives.

Jasmin Shim

Age: 29

Location: Toronto

Occupation: Account Manager in fintech

Find her at: @jasminhrshim

What does self-care mean to you?

The meaning of self-care changes on a day-to-day basis for me but I think the root of it is listening to my body and giving myself some grace to give it what it needs for the day. I'm naturally a list-maker and want to seize the damn day by squeezing in as many errands and things as I can, but I'm giving myself the time to slow down and giving myself realistic goals to celebrate all the wins each day.

I think the root of [self-care] is listening to my body and giving myself some grace to give it what it needs for the day.

What are your self-care rituals?

I don't follow any specific set of self-care rituals but one thing that's imperative is movement. Whether it's going for a walk around the neighbourhood or starting the day with a quick 10-minute YouTube workout video, or exploring Ontario trails, it's the only thing that grounds me and helps me slow down my brain and unplug from the world a little bit. 

How have these rituals impacted your mental well-being?

Nothing can silence my mile-a-minute thoughts better than movement. I find myself daydreaming or running through all the "what if" scenarios and auditing my checklist constantly. Being able to have a moment of silence for myself through movement definitely gives me time to recharge for clarity.

 

This photograph is from Jasmin’s personal archives.

This photograph is from Jasmin’s personal archives.

How do you prioritize your self-care amidst work, family, friends, etc?

I'm luckily a morning person so I prioritize waking up early to have some time to myself before I have to take on the workday. I know if I don't start the day with a bit of movement, I'm going to be replaying all the "coulda woulda shoulda". I'm working on setting boundaries with myself for when I can have the energy to be social and when I need to give myself designated time to do all the things I want to do.

What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

(Not really a guilty pleasure because I'm actively looking to find people to chat about it with, but) I crushed through Selling Sunset and am obsessed.

This photograph is from Axelle’s personal archives.

This photograph is from Axelle’s personal archives.

Axelle Richards

Age: 30

Location: U.S. Virgin Islands

Occupation: Asset Management Specialist

Find me at: @ax.lle

What does self-care mean to you?

For me, self-care is self-love exemplified. It is practicing all things that nourish my soul and healthy habits that just make me feel good overall. It’s more than just getting a massage, a facial, or a bomb pedicure; it’s about prioritizing my well-being. Within the last few years of adulthood and motherhood, I’ve learned the importance of checking in with myself and looking after my mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Doing my inner work and ascending to a state of inner peace is what self-care is about for me.

What are your self-care rituals?

My self care practices are focused on self-preservation, spiritual healing, and simple feel-good rituals. I say “no” to things, places, and people that do not make me feel my best.

I say “no” to things, places, and people that do not make me feel my best.

Spiritual practices like meditation, practicing gratitude, and positivity are all a part of my daily rituals. Breathwork and meditation help when I feel overwhelmed. I express gratitude aloud daily so the universe can receive it and send blessings right back. TrapSoul Yoga, lighting candles, and incense while listening to a chill playlist is a must before bed. Being outdoors is another feel-good ritual for me. The sun and the sea are like medicine for my soul. My favourite ritual is caring for my plants. Watching them grow and thrive from being loved and cared for reminds me exactly how I need to be with myself.

How have these rituals impacted your mental well-being?

My rituals bring me clarity, stillness and peace. My mood is improved, my anxiety is low, and I feel happy. Life can get crazy sometimes but being consistent with my rituals keeps me focused and reminds me to slow down and continue to do the things that make me feel my best. Without my rituals my well-being wouldn’t be at its best.

How do you prioritize your self-care amidst work, family, friends, etc?

For me there is no negotiating my self-care habits or putting it off. I literally schedule it into my daily routines. Early mornings and evenings are for “me time” and my immediate family respects that. Work can get stressful very easily so I take frequent breaks to avoid a mental burnout. But staying offline at the end of my workday is something I am still trying to master.

This photograph is from Axelle’s personal archives.

This photograph is from Axelle’s personal archives.

What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Retail therapy! I love shopping. I just love purchasing things that bring me joy. Self-care is subjective and not limited to all the other things I’ve mentioned. It’s whatever makes you feel good and retail therapy always does the trick for me. I’m a firm believer of “Treat yo’ self!“

This photograph is from Ameerah’s personal archives.

This photograph is from Ameerah’s personal archives.

Ameerah Omar

Age: 39

Location: New York City

Occupation: Self-Development Coach and Meditation Instructor

Find her at: @ameerah_omar

What does self-care mean to you?

Self-care for me means nourishing and replenishing my mind, body, and soul so that I am able to show up to the world as the best version of myself. 

What are your self-care rituals?

A few of my favourite self-care rituals are meditating, exercise, plant care, and connecting with the ocean. I also value travel and exploring. I think the most important rituals I have learned to prioritize over the course of time are the act of saying “no” and getting my rest.

How have these rituals impacted your mental well-being?

They give me the opportunity to spend time with myself so that I'm able to get a better understanding of who I truly am. They also help ground and center me to the present moment so there becomes less of this attachment to what's coming next. With moments of self-care I can just be me. Authentically and unapologetically.

[Self-care] give[s] me the opportunity to spend time with myself so that I’m able to get a better understanding of who I truly am.

This photograph is from Ameerah’s personal archives.

This photograph is from Ameerah’s personal archives.

How do you prioritize your self-care amidst work, family, friends, etc?

Accountability partners! I have an accountability partner for almost every aspect of my life. I find it super helpful to have people aligned with the same core values who I can look to for support. I'm also big on setting intentions (ways in which I want to show up in the world) and dedicating time within my schedule for my rituals as non-negotiable.

What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Potato chips... I'm obsessed. It's the crunch for me.

This photograph is from Debbie’s personal archives.

This photograph is from Debbie’s personal archives.

Debbie Ingram

Age: 56

Location: Montréal

Occupation: Special Needs Educator

What does self-care mean to you?

Self-care is about finding time for yourself and loving yourself. I have definitely neglected myself along the way. I have to let go of things that do not allow me to practice self-care, like work and certain house chores. Self-care, for me, is sleeping more, relaxing, and spending time doing activities I enjoy.

What are your self-care rituals?

Some mornings, I wake slowly and allow my mind to wander. I also have a daily skincare routine (for the AM and PM) and I enjoy a cup of coffee or tea every morning. At night, I leave my phone in the living room, outside of my sanctuary, also known as my bedroom. 

How have these rituals impacted your mental well-being?

With the stress of life and work, these rituals help me stay calm and grounded. These are the little moments that remind me to appreciate and love myself.

These are the little moments that remind me to appreciate and love myself.

How do you prioritize your self-care amidst work, family, friends, etc?

Sometimes, I don't prioritize self-care as much as I should. Lots of improvements are needed in this department. But, little by little, I've learned to create boundaries, especially for work. I'm learning to disconnect after my day and not answering emails or phone calls. Thankfully, I have great family and friends that don't stress me. 

 

This photograph is from Debbie’s personal archives.

This photograph is from Debbie’s personal archives.

What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Ouuuu, ice cream. I love vanilla bean and rum & raisin ice cream.

 

Trang Be is a writer based in Toronto. In the light of day, she cooks, she reads, and she introverts. When the sky gets dark and the world goes quiet, she’s mostly all up in her Piscean thoughts, trying to learn, unlearn, and to get it right (whatever that means).

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