Award-winning journalist Raquel Reichard graces us with her new book “Self-Care For Latinas” that goes beyond the surface of commercialized self-care, and invites us to revitalize our outlook on life, improve our mental health, eliminate stress, and self-advocate.
When you think about the word self-care, what comes to mind? Many of us might picture decadent body oils or getting our nails done. Others might picture tropical getaways where we get to disconnect our phones. Some might even cringe at the word “self-care” itself, deeming it an overused buzzword. Award-winning journalist Raquel Reichard has penned a powerful book titled “Self-Care for Latinas” that breaks through the surface of commercialized self-care and addresses the deeper issues at play: body politics, mass incarceration, family separation, colonialism, beauty ideals, marianismo.
Raquel Reichard lives and breathes our cultura. This award-winning journalist writes, edits, produces, and speaks on Latine culture, identity, body politics, music, and wellness. Her first book, “Self-Care For Latinas”, recently published by Simon & Schuster, is an extension of the work she’s been doing as a storyteller for about a decade. In the book, she unpacks 100 exercises explicitly designed to help Latinas revitalize their outlook on life, improve their mental health, eliminate stress, and self-advocate.
As Latinas dedicated to paving new caminos for our community, she has shared four underrated self-care practices that will expand your understanding of this buzz word.
Destigmatize mental health
We can not take steps forward in a new direction without destigmatizing mental health. Doing this is essential for Latinas, especially because our culture has a tendency to undermine mental health issues. If you are reading this article, chances are you are the cycle breaker in your family ready to break out of survival mode.
“We need to confront [mental health] first before we can do anything else,” said Reichard.
“Self-care work isn’t just mani and pedis. It’s part of it, but we need to confront trauma, and that is hard. It takes time, is complicated, and might require you to set boundaries with the people you love.”
Release the guilt that comes with self-care
Our culture teaches us that a good Latina is self-sacrificial. If that is the case, it leads to self-care being perceived as selfish. It makes sense that you might feel guilty when placing boundaries to honor your self-care practices, but it’s time to let that go.
“I didn’t even know what [self-care] was for so long because I didn’t have anyone who modeled it for me, especially the women in my life,” said Reichard.
“It wasn’t until I started seeing [self-care] modeled, specifically by other Latina and black women, that I even recognized that this was something that was possible.”
Learn the language of your body
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to self-care. It’s beautiful to gather inspiration from self-care routines we learn about from friends and people we admire, but a fundamental part of self-care is listening to yourself first.
“Your mind, your body, your spirit, they are constantly telling you what you need. We, in order for us to heed to the calls of our bodies, we have to understand this foreign language,” said Reichard.
Learning to decipher the language of the body takes time, and Reichard’s book offers some tangible tools to begin strengthening your relationship with your body.
Set boundaries with people you love
If this is your first time practicing self-care, chances are it might rub some people in your life the wrong way as you set new boundaries to make these practices possible. Reichard reflected on the normalization of self-sacrificing within our culture, and how it impacted the decisions in her lineage. Her book is a profound reminder that the power lies in our hands to choose differently.
“These concepts of women sticking it out. Like it doesn’t matter what it’s doing to you, that’s your role as a caretaker, can change.”
The first step is witnessing the pattern in your family members, within yourself, and move in a different direction. Boundaries will protect the new journey you’ve embarked on, so have the courage to have those difficult conversations.
About the Author
Chantelle Bacigalupo is #WeAllGrow Latina’s Editorial Staff Writer. She is a Bolivian-American photographer, multimedia journalist, and activist based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work focuses on issues ranging across immigration, social & environmental justice, preserving Indigenous cultures, and reproductive justice. You can read more of her pieces here.