The term “self-care” has been making its way around social media, the news, the internet, and daily conversations. When people think about self-care, they think about rest and relaxation, taking time to do an activity they enjoy, and clearing the mind of stress. But there is so much more to self-care.
The history of self-care goes back further than 2016, when the term started to make waves in the media. It was so much more than fancy spa days or an over-the-top organic diet. There was political reasoning behind self-care, which we have slowly lost over the years.
Understanding the roots of the self-care movement and how it changed is important in effectively and properly practicing self-care. Self-care is so much more than just taking a day to destress. As an article from Hello Giggles describes it, self-care is a “way to fight back against the systems that threaten our health, body, and mind.”
The team at TeaZen® understand the importance of self-care, but we wanted to take a further look at how self-care started and where the term came from. We learned a lot and we hope you will too! Read this blog to learn the history of self-care and why it is important that we understand where it all started.
Self-care started as a medical concept. It was used and discussed as a way for doctors to get patients to take care of themselves and practice healthy habits. These patients were generally mentally-ill and elderly people who needed long-term care. While it started as a medical concept, it quickly became something much different.
A Dark Past
Self-care was once used as a way to suppress people. In the 19th and early 20th century, this term was used against many different groups, including African slaves, freed African Americans, women, and the LGBTQ community. It was stated that these groups were unable to practice “self-care” and “self-government.” Before self-care was used as a way to empower people and groups, it was used as a tool to maintain oppression.
In the ‘60s and ‘70s, self-care started being used as a way to fight the government. An article from girlboss mentions that academics were looking for ways to help those in “high-risk and emotionally daunting professions” better fight stress that was brought on by their jobs.
Around this time, self-care made its way into the civil rights, women’s, and LGBTQ movements. The idea of being mentally and physically healthy was the basis for fighting for equality. An article from Slate mentions that health clinics showed extreme sexism. Medical staff often perceived and treated the female body as “inherently sick” or a “vector of disease,” depending on your social status. This medical treatment, along with a hostile view of reproductive right, pushed the start of the women’s liberation activists to open clinics of their own. African-Americans faced the same poor health care treatment, which led them to recruit nurses, doctors, and students to help test for illness in black communities.
What It Meant
Through self-care, these groups that were constantly being oppressed and discriminated against were able to declare that their well-being mattered and that they deserved not only to live, but to live well. Practicing self-care during this period of history was courageous. These groups were acknowledging that they had needs, which were important and deserved to be met. Self-care for them meant getting a break from these toxic environments, admitting they were damaged, and taking time to heal.
While self-care has always been around, it seems like a newer concept. After 9/11, the concept of self-care as an act of political resistance was reborn. There was a huge increase in people experiencing PTSD, fear, and anxiety after such a traumatic event. This made self-care become a common concept which was talked about in media and national conversation.
And now we arrive at the most current self-care movement. After the 2016 election, self-care became a mainstream concept and started what we now know as self-care. The article from Slate mentions that the week after the election, Americans Googled the term “self-care” almost twice as much as they ever had before. It became a common term on social media, news outlets, and in daily conversation. While everyone understood that it was important to take care of themselves from time to time, it was rare to find someone who understood where exactly self-care came from.
But now you know, and now you can educate your friends, family, and the community around you. By understanding the history and roots of self-care, you will be able to better appreciate and effectively practice self-care.
We know that this blog was not the happy and exciting blog about self-care that you expected. Our team at TeaZen was shocked to learn the history of self-care as well! But it is important for all of us to understand the roots and why we practice self-care today. In our next blog, we are going to talk about the fun parts of self-care, including the importance and how you can practice self-care.
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