Everything You Don't Already Know About Self-Care (From a Girl Who Invented an App About It)
Before landing the coveted job as digital strategist for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Amber Discko was the founder of Femsplain, an inclusive community and platform that gave millions of women a voice. She's great at the internet, but until a few months ago, she wasn't so good at valuing her IRL self. So she started Aloe, a self-care app that's currently raising money on Kickstarter so it can finally become a reality.
Aloe's an important (and adorable!) tool that helps you focus only on things that will make you feel better emotionally, mentally, and physically. And frankly, we could all use that right about now. We talked to Amber about why she believes in meditation, what made her prioritize her health, and how she's starting a self-care movement.
First things first: Self-care can mean a lot of things to different people, but how do you define it, personally?
This is a great question! Aloe believes self-care means taking care of yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically. Especially since there’s this negative mindset against self-care, the more we individually say what it means to us, the easier people can understand how important it is.
And how do you practice it yourself?
I struggle with an anxiety disorder and have lived with depression since I was very young. So remembering to drink water, eat, and take medication are all forms of self-care to me. Spending time on the weekends disconnecting is crucial, as I spend most of my time during the week online. I recommend trying deep breathing exercises or listening to a guided meditation audio if you’re in a good headspace.
When did you first discover the importance of self-care?
I worked on the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign and was not doing a very good job taking care of myself. I’d get so overwhelmed with work and pushing the cause further that I’d forget to drink water, eat lunch, or do things that once made me happy. I only realized this when my mental health became worse and I was having anxiety attacks more frequently. That’s when I learned and understood that we shouldn’t wait until everything is awful to take care of ourselves. It needs to be a constant thing we’re working on. And, most importantly, we shouldn't have to feel bad about it.
Despite its name, self-care is also about having a community of people around who support you. How have you found your community, online and off?
Searching for what you need is a great way to find what you want. I have found my community through finding and going to meet ups IRL, participating in mental health communities for queer people on Facebook, using the #TalkingAboutIt hashtag on Twitter. It’s there if you want it; you just have to search!
Self-care can be intimidating when you don’t know where to start. What advice do you have for creating a self-care routine?
My best advice for creating a self-care routine is to look at others' existing routines. That’s how I created my own—sourcing ideas and tips from friends. I also try to be kind to myself if something I thought would be good for me doesn’t end up working out. There’s no one routine for everyone and once you believe that, you’ll feel so much better!