Submitted by: StrongHearts Native Helpline
It’s easy to tell someone that it’s time to heal. What isn’t so easy is understanding that not everyone heals in the same way or at the same pace. StrongHearts Native Helpline understands that when it comes to healing there is no such thing as one size fits all. That is why it is so important to call attention to healing and to ask yourselves and relatives: How do you heal?
“As traditional people, it is customary to put our loved ones before ourselves. We do this because we love them and want to take care of them. But, when it comes to Native people loving and caring for themselves, it can feel like we are betraying our humble values,” said StrongHearts Chief Executive Officer Lori Jump. “When it comes to healing, we must make a fundamental decision to take care of ourselves and to teach our children that whatever it takes, it’s okay to love ourselves enough to heal from the trauma of domestic and sexual violence.”
Make a commitment to yourself to identify what you can do to feel better, look better and live better. Please take time to review and enjoy the following tips on self-care and self-love.
What Is Self-Love?
Self-love means accepting yourself as you are in this very moment for everything that you are. It means putting your physical, emotional and mental well-being first. It means that you recognize that through self-care you can accomplish your goals and live your best life. It means taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being for others. Self-love and care means not settling for less than you deserve.
Culturally significant ways to practice self-care and self-love can include the following activities:
- Traditions: Continuing or renewing traditions can promote healing especially when practicing the methods taught to us by our ancestors. It is through our connection to the past that we can find healing; and it is our link to the future that we can guide our children on their own healing journeys.
- Ceremony: There are a number of cleansing ceremonies that can induce healing such as participating in a sweat lodge where extreme heat helps our spirit to sweat the tears of trauma as we reflect on our own needs as well as those of our people.
- Family, Friends and Community: Recognize that as relatives, we are all connected and share a trauma bond born of historical and intergenerational trauma. As such, we must acknowledge that part of our history to begin the healing journey for ourselves and our people.
- Bonding with Mother Nature: Take a deep breath of fresh air. Walk in green grass with bare feet. A physical connection to Mother Earth can lead to healing especially when on ancestral lands.
- Vacations: A vacation can be as simple as vacating oneself from a bad conversation or situation, but it can also include longer planned excursions such as: taking a walk, visiting childhood playgrounds, or exploring distant lands. Vacations can restore, refresh or reset a peaceful mindset and spirit.
For starters, you can practice self-love by:
- Trusting yourself. Everyone makes mistakes and learns from them. Trust your instincts. You know more than anyone what is best for you.
- Talking to and about yourself with love. Honor yourself with praise and love for your personal and professional achievements. Greet your daily activities with a determination to love yourself. You are worthy.
- Giving yourself a break from self-judgment. Indigenous people were harshly judged by people who didn’t understand our ways. We lived in harmony with nature — that is something so special that it shouldn’t be hard to see the good in our people. So go easy on yourself. You deserve it.
- Forgiving yourself when you make a mistake. Survivors of domestic and sexual violence are often blamed for their abuse. Victim blaming relieves the perpetrator of any wrongdoing. Victims who feel shame should feel strength and resilience in their ability to survive. When you do make a mistake, understand that making mistakes is a learning experience and that self-love and care includes forgiving yourself.
- Being nice to yourself. Understand that violence against Indigenous peoples began with colonization and healing from that trauma can begin with being nice to yourself. After all, you deserve to be happy.
- Setting healthy boundaries. Set healthy boundaries in all your relationships. You can start by telling people when they’ve made you feel uncomfortable. Healthy boundaries may also include ending an unhealthy relationship and doing so may also help you to develop healthy relationships.
Self-care involves making healthy choices such as eating nutritious foods and exercising. When you feel healthy, you are more likely to hold yourself in high esteem. Self-care is especially important when setting a good example for the next generation to witness and emulate.
Go back to the basics:
- Listen to your body. If you are feeling tired — take a nap. If you are hungry — eat nutritious food. If you are weak — get up and exercise.
- Take breaks from work and move or stretch. Take a sandwich to work and walk off the calories during your breaks.
- Put the phone down. Instead, visit someone you’ve been missing or connect with yourself by meditating or doing something creative.
- Eat healthily but allow yourself to indulge in your favorite foods. For example, dark chocolate is high in antioxidants, which in moderation can actually be good for you.
Self-love and care can include:
- Mindfulness. Know what you think, feel and want.
- Stay focused on your needs and give yourself what you would freely give to others.
- Practice good self-care by eating healthily, exercising and getting enough sleep which can lead to developing healthy social interactions and intimacy.
- Give yourself enough time and space to develop healthy habits. Do things, not to “get them done” or because you “have to,” but because you “want to” develop healthy habits.
Be kind, patient, gentle and compassionate to yourself. Take care of you the way you would take care of a loved one.
- Manage stress and go for regular medical check-ups.
- Practice good hygiene because it is good for social, medical, and psychological reasons and reduces the risk of illness.
- Do something you enjoy every day. Dance, watch a favorite TV show or work in the garden.
- Find ways to relax. Meditate, do yoga, get a massage, take a bath or walk in the woods.
- Build a sense of belonging by making and maintaining new friendships. Consider joining a health or social club. Sign up for art and/or recreation classes where you can interact with and enjoy meeting new people.
At StrongHearts Native Helpline we must be mindful of self-care and self-love in our quest to heal. That is why it is so important for you to ask yourself, “How do you heal?” and let the journey begin.
About StrongHearts Native Helpline
StrongHearts Native Helpline is a 24/7 culturally-appropriate domestic, dating and sexual violence helpline for Native Americans and Alaska Natives, available by calling or texting 1-844-762-8483 or clicking on the chat icon at strongheartshelpline.org. Advocates offer peer support, crisis intervention, safety planning and referrals to Native-centered services. StrongHearts Native Helpline is a proud partner of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.
- Self-Love and What It Means. Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D. February 2020. https://bit.ly/3CkW3iV
Taking Good Care of Yourself. Mental Health America. https://bit.ly/3LUXuHN (Accessed Sept. 29, 2022)