Written By: Dr. Nardeen Awadalla, Registered Psychologist
What does celebrating women look like? If you are a woman, how do you celebrate yourself? If you are a person that cares about a woman, how do you celebrate her?
International Women’s Day recognizes the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. We can all agree that, traditionally, women’s achievements in these areas have been minimized in society, and I hope we’re all on the same page that it’s important to recognize them.
On the other hand, women are not just their achievements, they are inherently deserving of recognition and care. Our culture doesn’t socialize or teach women that it’s important to care for themselves, rather, it encourages women to care for others.
This month is a good opportunity for women and their supporters to take back that power by exploring what womanhood means to them by encouraging women’s self-care!
Step 1: Women Get to Define What Being a Woman Means!
Society often defines what being a “woman” means and it does so in ways that are limiting and inaccurate for many.
To truly celebrate women, first, women get to redefine what being a woman actually means for them. Unlike how society defines women, being a woman isn’t about having specific body parts (that look a certain way), or being a mother, a girlfriend, or “being” anything to anyone.
Being a woman is an individual experience for every person. Give yourself the gift of exploring what “being a woman” means outside of society’s expectations and independent of women’s roles. Roles can be important; however, they deserve to be explored in the context of the person that embodies them.
For example, the role of “daughter” can be very different for every daughter. Being a woman means different things for every woman that has existed; let’s celebrate the uniqueness of what being a woman can be!
Step 2: Explore What “Being a Woman” Really Means in Context!
Society’s definition of a woman carries (often inaccurate and unfair) implications that play out in different areas of life. Women’s Day recognizes the achievements of women in society because women are scientists, political leaders, sales people, and many other things.
Take a moment to reflect on how being a woman in today’s society plays into other roles women have. For the scientist that happens to be a woman, how does being a woman impact their experience of being in the lab?
If you are a woman, how aware are you of your womanhood in different situations? Does womanhood feel different in a work meeting than it does when you’re spending time with your friends? How does your awareness (or lack of awareness of your womanhood) change how you feel in that space? How does awareness impact how you behave in that space?
It’s important to recognize the moments in which society’s messaging about what “being a woman is” plays out in our lives by questioning it. With recognition of those moments, each woman can reflect on whether the messaging aligns with how they define womanhood for themselves. You get to do that!
Step 3: Active Self-Love to Counteract Societal Pressures
Steps 1 and 2 are already a lot of work! The reality of existing as a person in society often is a lot of work, especially when you’re labelled with something that carries expectations and assumptions that are often not accurate of your experience. That’s why self-care is important, it is an act of self-love, a protest, and a celebration of womanhood!
Self-care is not just about getting a massage or going on vacation.
Self-care can be:
- Noticing the physiological basics. Are you getting enough sleep? Do you need to go to the bathroom? Do you need something to eat or drink?
- Taking your scheduled breaks at work rather than working through to catch up
- Practicing self-compassion; quieting down a critical inner voice
- Noticing when you are censoring yourself and exploring assertiveness
- Identifying and setting boundaries with others so that your needs get met
- Asking for help – just because you can do it all yourself, it doesn’t mean that you have to do it all yourself!
- Reconnecting with an old friend by phone
- Making a list of gratitude first thing in the morning
As you can see, self-care can be physical, psychological, emotional, or spiritual. It is about doing the things that maintain or restore wellness and align you with your most authentic and balanced self.
Whether you are a woman or not, you deserve self-care – so, let’s celebrate!
To learn more about self-care as a woman, contact us at Brentwood Counselling Centre today.