Just like plants need sunshine, nutrients, water, and connection to other beings – we need to tend to our mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional needs in order to stay balanced and healthy. Because our physical health is an important aspect of our wellness, it’s important that we find ways to make peace with and care for our body.
We shouldn’t think about taking care of our bodies as punishment though. There are lots of messages in movies, TV, and on social media that make it easy to default to a punishment mindset, such as “I ate this dessert, now I have to go run a mile”. Instead, we should consider what our bodies need – and that looks different for everyone, depending on where they are at. For example, sometimes what our bodies need is rest and to treat ourselves. Other times, we need to move our bodies and nourish ourselves with healthy foods. Our bodies deserve the same care, attention, and respect that we give to other relationships.
However, things can happen in life that impact our connection with our bodies and our ability to determine what we need. This might be a traumatic experience, negative messages from social media, body dysmorphia (have an incorrect body image), or struggling with mental health difficulties, like anxiety, depression, or an eating disorder. If this is the case, it’s important to find ways to bring our body and mind back into balance.
Some ways to do this are:
- Understand how to work with your body and its trauma responses
- Have a self-care plan
- Practice self-compassion
Through all of this, remember that all bodies are sacred and deserve compassion, peace, and healing. There are systems that might not protect our bodies and recognize them as sacred due to racism, and we have to work to change that. As Indigenous people, we carry strength and resilience that can help us work together to make those changes. When we remember our sacredness – and the sacredness of others – we can build a strong Indigenous future for the next generations.
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Author: McKalee Steen is a member of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, and is currently a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley in the Environmental Science, Policy, and Management department. She is passionate about studying Indigenous land stewardship practices, providing resources for Indigenous youth, and the power of storytelling.