Mental health, one of the most important components to having a good quality of life. So much so that we really can’t address personal growth without addressing this very topic. Our mind creates our reality. Which means, the quality of thoughts and coping practices to trauma and everyday stress becomes crucial. We are learning now more than ever that our mind is our tool. Like such, we must polish it, maintain it, take care of it, and repair it when in need.
Even though mental health has become a more accepted concept it seems like in the Latinx community it is still a topic that remains taboo. So much of our culture and upbringing remains a direct contradiction to what we know now as healthy for our mental health. However, so much of it, if we really look at it, can be what drives us to sanity and peace in a chaotic world. There are things our beautiful cultures already expose us to that if we really embrace can be amazing self -care practice.
Self-care and mental health is about disconnecting to what overwhelms us and reconnecting to oneself. What a better way to do that then by reconnecting with our roots. To what grounds us, family. So let’s talk about 10 small or big things Latinx families already do that are great self-care practices.
1. Good Platica and cafecito
Cafecito and a good catch up chat is a must in Latinx families. I don’t think you can really go to a casa Latina and not have cafecito. Our families are usually big with a strong bond that keep us together. While that can get a bit overwhelming when you need your space. There are times when a good platica with family to just vent can be very helpful. Our mind can run at a thousand miles per hour. Especially when our time outside is so limited. Having people you can count on that will listen, and love you unconditionally can make uncertain times feel less uncertain.
2. Cleaning while dancing
Saturday mornings, good music, being productive by cleaning, sounds like a Saturday morning in a Latinx household. Growing up these tasks might have been a dread to us. As grown ups though, this childhood family activity can be just what we need to lift our spirit and ease tension. The power of music to change our mood and change our day is amazing. A good song can help us reminiscent, make our body move, make us sing along. You add to that some productive cleaning, and you got yourself a good time. I don’t know about you but reorganizing my space allows me to feel fresh, helps me think of new ideas. Cleaning activities like washing dishes can help ease your running mind. Repetitive tasks can allow you to relax , and just enjoy the motion of your present moment. Maybe our parents were on to something.
3. Cooking comfort food
Nourishing our bodies with good food is a form of self -care. With so much going on in my days, I tend to forget to eat or just pick up random snacks that aren’t the greatest. However, there is something about prepping your food. Taking the time to really acknowledge the history, memories, and the enjoyment of making a dish. To me, reconnecting with one’s roots is a form of self -love. It’s this reminder of who you are and where you come from. Then to see the joy in one’s family, children laughing to stories as you cook, and pass on recipes and memories. To watch them take that first bite, it’s like having your ancestors at the dinner table, in a delicious spoon full of soul food.
4. Praying/ Meditating
Self-care is this act of finding our center once again. Especially after many of us lost it for a bit with this pandemic. Prayer, for those that are religious, and meditation are a great way to do that. Many of us grew up in a very religious household and while many times that seemed like an impossible obstacle, these traditions if approached in our own way can have great benefits. The key though, is to embrace these practices passed down to us by making them our own. To what works for us. For example, prayer may not be your thing, but sitting in silence can. Allowing your mind to clear from the noise can benefit you. I always say that there is something beautiful about knowing there is something bigger than us out there. Aztecs and Mayans believed in Gods, my parents believed in Jesus, and I believe in the universe that harbors all them at once. It’s always about finding what works for you.
5. Playing loteria
Talking about embracing what has been passed down to us and making it ours, who didn’t grow up playing loteria? When I say I have amazing memories with loteria, it’s an understatement. I remember after my catechism class my great auntie would play loteria with us. Man! it just brings some beautiful memories about someone I saw as my grandma. Many of you may have similar memories playing with your family. The beautiful thing is that now many amazing Latinx companies and artist have given them their own flare. It is this amazing mix of what we grew up with and what reflects current events. Whatever you play, the original version of it, or any of the new and very creative versions, playing loteria is something that can make us laugh and connect to the ones we love.
6. Making remedios
I know that it may seem like holistic practices and all natural are a fad of the moment. Now a days “all natural” is sold to us in everything! Our skincare, food, house products, and of course our medicine. There are remedies to make you happier, healthier, more this, more that, as if it’s something new and innovative. We Latinx know different. We know all natural and remedies come from abuelita. We know it comes from our ancestors. So it becomes a connection to our loved ones and tradition more than what the trend is. Whether it be a facial mask, remedy to make you feel better, or a bath mixer. It’s a beautiful moment to truly appreciate how our ancestors found purpose in everything. How they allowed mother earth to truly provide for them. It’s a way to care for our selves physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
7. Telling and listening to stories of back home
If you’ve noticed the trend in all these self-care activities it is more about re connection than disconnect. I think self-care in itself is a connection activity. Connection with one self. Connection to earth, and connection to who you want to become. Telling stories and listening to them is no exception. It can bring laughs, tears, nostalgia. It brings you closer to loved ones. It can re focus you on who you want to become.
8. Talking on the phone with people back home
Telling stories with loved ones around a table with some cafecito may not be possible for many of us at this time. Some can’t because of COVID and others because home is far away from here. Separated by a border and thousands of miles. Talking on the phone brings back some of that connection. It may not be the same as hugging and being near those we love but listening to them does feel good. It helps us ease our mind and helps us feel less alone. The voice of a loved one can do some much our mental health. Knowing there is someone that loves us on the other side of the phone is everything.
9. Doing limpias – ASMR massages
Part of self-care is spiritual care. For us Latinx, limpias have been a way to cleanse our souls. A way to remove bad energy and connecting to the four elements, connecting to earth. An opportunity to ground ourselves. I love them because it is more spiritual to me than religious. It is something that has been around for centuries. It’s a ritual from our ancestors that many still practice. It is definitely, a good self- care moment.
Depending on who performs the limpia it can be such a relaxing experience. They do a mixer of soft touches and abrupt brushes that bring the perfect balance of relaxation. Getting a limpia may not be possible right now which is where the internet comes to play. To watch a limpia and getting one may not be the same. The relaxation factor may be different. However, both very relaxing. If you enjoy ASMR videos I highly recommend limpia ASMR videos. They will put you to a very relaxing sleep.
Of the five love languages, touch is one of mine. So it’s no surprise that cuddling is the way I relax, recharge, and connect with one soul. It is my way of disconnecting with the noise of the world. Latinos are known for being very loving people. Just think about it, when we say hello we kiss on the cheek and give hugs. It’s the way we embrace those we meet. Our way to remind someone they are loved but also a way of telling those we’ve just met, ” you are no longer a stranger. ” we can scientific and say skin to skin contact helps release oxytocin (the feel good hormone) Or I can just say it feels good to connect with others! Touch is a fundamental way to connect with the good and disconnect from stress. If being around your loved ones has become a challenge due to the pandemic pets are a great way to connect as well. I think animals are amazing at sensing when we need a little extra love.
It is important for us to begin filling the gap between what our family traditions are and the new information we learn about mental health. It’s never about learning a new way of things and throwing away the old. Its about marrying the two and creating something that works for us. By doing so we are allowing our family to feel a part of a continuous changing world. A world that is so determined to erase their history. Plus, we all know that abuelita knows best. Tell me, do you do any of these with your family?
written by: Lupita G.