Let’s be very honest for a second- self-care has become quite the buzz phrase within the Black millennial community lately. We owe credit to trailblazers like Queen Solange for creating catalyst works like “A Seat at the Table” which contains her song Borderline, an actual ide to Self-Care. Articles with eye-catching headlines like “25 Acts of Self Care” have also impacted this buzz in a major way!

Well, what does "self- care" truly mean beyond the buzz? According to World of Psychology Author Raphailia Michael, MA, it is defined as 'any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health'. In short, it is nothing more than a healthy balance of taking care of yourself in this busy (and crazy) world that we live in...an intentional reminder to be kind to yourself! 

While this phrase is buzzing within our music, favorite memes, and retweetable tweets, we must realize how powerful this moment actually is! It is one of the first times in history in which Blacks have actually embraced the idea of making sure that one preserves their own soul before trying to save the world…the first time that we actually are deciding to address the superwoman syndrome…the first time that we are actually encouraging men to express their real emotions…and the surprising list goes on.

Over the course of my 27 years of life, I have attempted to carry the exceeding weight of the Earth, Sun, Moon and the stars on my back in addition to carrying the daily burdens I face as a young melanated professional in America. Maybe you are me, or you know someone like me… taking on the issues of others before even settling your own? Making sure everyone around you is taken care of before you remotely think of your needs? Or what about dealing with the turmoil of the world, waking up constantly to negative media and even media overload? And then we have the nerve to suppress all of those burdens and walk around daily like nothing is going on with a smile?

Life will continue to happen, this is true. But the real truth is, it doesn’t matter how strong you think you are, this is not a healthy way to live. It WILL catch up with you and it can affect your mental health if you aren't proactive in your preservation! Hence why self-care is oh-so-necessary to discuss beyond our trendy memes- we all know someone who is one incident away from a totally different mental situation.

It never seems that serious at first. Over the years, I would experience small breakdowns after the loads of managing school and my complicated family- life weighed heavy. As a teenager, it was perhaps easier to bounce back from those events. Yet we all know what time and “adulting” is capable of accomplishing- it can and will challenge you beyond a small bounce back. You will feel tried from each and every direction- work, school, family, friends, relationships and even dealing with yourself and having to make sense of your identity.

As I began to search the deepest parts of my soul for clarity on why my 20s were so dynamic, I figured capturing the positive stories of other young melanated professionals could help myself and others on their journey into this new space. It wasn’t until this year I had the opportunity to meet someone who was able to capture my full attention about the importance of self care. A young woman who mirrored my strength whose mental health had somehow captured her to the point of a Bipolar II and Depression diagnosis.

I’ll never forget speaking with Amara Sturkey, who like myself was another small town hero who was the backbone of most of her friends and the girl who always wore a smile. From the outside looking in, she had it all together. Little did the world know that behind her smile hid years of built anguish that led to her diagnosis. Her journey led her to create a non-profit organization, "The Silent Me" that advocates for mental health awareness. 

I was beyond moved by her courage on our interview on the New Geechee podcast. Here was this 24-year-old decreeing that it was “okay not to be okay”, words we often never hear in the Black community. I saw so much of myself in this young woman, I knew that it was time to start taking inventory on what was going on with my own mental health and self-care. I began to seek and dig- article after article, podcast after podcast (thanks: MyTaughtYou and The Friend Zone), and conversation after conversation before I finally concluded that this was something I needed to speak to the world about! I have NOT been "living" my best life and it was time to accept it and make changes immediately!

So, in my natural way of wanting to help others, I reached back to Amara and it was a full circle experience. She also wanted to help others make these same realizations and use social media to get millennials to understand this great issue at hand. Together we came up with "the SELF-CARE challenge: a 14-day journey to living your best life".  With 2018 around the corner, I look around and oceans of people are experiencing depression and are uncertain about how much progress they have made in discovering their life’s purpose. We figured there was no greater time than NOW to get vocal and create actionable items to help our generation!

We invite any and everyone who can accept the need for change in their life to take this journey with us from December 1st to December 15th.  The challenge is simple- follow us each day to address a particular issue in your life. Most days you’ll be posed with a question, others you’ll be presented with acts to get you active in making changes in your life. By the end of the challenge, we hope that you will have a greater sense of self to live out 2018 in a major way and keep your self-care at the forefront!

Here’s a snippet of what you can expect from each day:

12.1 Feel Good Friday

12.2 Stress Free Saturday

12.3 Self Check Sunday

12.4 Mindful Monday

12.5 Trigger Tuesday

12.6 Wireless Wednesday

12.7 Therapy Thursday

12.8 Future Friday

12.9 Stress Free Saturday

12.10 Shake it Off Sunday

12.11 Mindful Monday

12.12 Transparency Tuesday

12.13 Wireless Wednesday

12.14 Therapy Thursday

12.15 Free Yourself Friday

The Black community is notorious for bearing burdens alone. If you know someone who may be suffering in silence, don't hesitate to offer this challenge to them as well. The responses of others, their support, and our support are sure to help you to gain inner peace and understanding!  It's time for us to break free of the things that hold us back and remember that our core focus should always be the improvement of self. "You can't pour from an empty cup" so before 2018 comes, may we all develop the necessary self-care tools to live our best life!