The concept of self-care has been around for decades, but it’s taken off in recent years as a mode adopted by individuals, especially in the millennial generation. The coronavirus pandemic further popularized the idea of taking care of yourself as millions faced the unprecedented challenges of navigating a pandemic, quarantines, and caring for others that came with it.
What does it mean to practice self-care? Any discussion related to self-care needs to start with the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. While the term “self-care” was used in medical circles as a concept for patients to take care of themselves, it was the leaders of the Black Panther Party who reframed “self-care” as a practice to both survive incarceration and the broader harm that a racist society wroughts on the physical and mental health of Black people. Nutrition, yoga, exercise, and meditation became concrete activities taught by Black Panther leaders in service of the party’s Ten-Point Program, written in October 1966.
As it gained in popularity, self-care was absorbed into training and practices for jobs that are especially stressful, exhausting, or traumatic, such as social workers and some workers in medical professions. The idea behind self-care in this sphere evolved into caring for yourself so you are able to continue doing difficult work. This same ethos is practiced by activists and organizers who use the tenants of self-care as a way to cope with the important but draining work of leading social movements on the ground. You can’t sustain such work, the argument goes, if you don’t also take care of yourself. Audre Lorde summed it up well in 1988 when she wrote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.”
Today, self-care is a well-known term that’s been incorporated—some might say appropriated—into the larger health and wellness industry. Millennials may be more into self-care than older generations because they are also more attuned to their mental health, and self-care plays an important part in a healthy mind, especially for those dealing with mental and chronic illness.
While it may have strayed from its radical roots, self-care can still be a way take care of yourself in an unjust system—treating the symptoms of a society so we can move through it with at least some happiness, and maybe a little energy left to do the things we love, take care of each other, and work to make a system that benefits everyone.
While celebrities don’t typically face the struggles that self-care was originally designed for, their influence often sets trends, and that can be a good thing when it comes to paying attention to our mental wellness and learning about self-care. Sunday Citizen compiled a list of 15 ways celebrities practice self-care, using interviews and blog posts. From meditation to cooking to therapy, read on to find out how some of your favorite celebs show themselves a little love.