Everyone Could Benefit From This "Self-Care For Latinas" Book

Cover Design © Simon & Schuster, Inc. Illustrations by Stephanie Vidal
Cover Design © Simon & Schuster, Inc. Illustrations by Stephanie Vidal

Raquel Reichard has been a voice in Latine media for more than 10 years. But what many may not know is how she has prioritized her self-care over the years and how that's had a direct impact on accomplishing her personal and professional goals. Now, she's sharing some of her secret sauce with others through her new book, "Self-Care For Latinas."

"'Self-care For Latinas' is an invitation to explore how you are feeling, mentally, physically, and spiritually," Reichard tells PS Juntos. "It's an appeal to prioritize your well-being holistically and realistically; and it's a toolkit providing you with data, resources, and practices to care for yourself wholly."

The 33-year-old Puerto Rican, who was born in Queens, NY, and raised in Orlando, FL, where she currently resides, includes more than 100 practices and exercises for readers to discover. Reichard shares that some will be new to readers while others are time-honored traditions.

"The book helps Latinas understand why we, specifically, must care for our mind, body, and spirit, and how we can do this no matter what our daily lives look like," she says.

Reichard describes self-care as a foreign language we must learn. Becoming fluent in the language of self-love helps to re-engineer the way we were brought up thinking about self-care. In fact, it was intentional for her to begin the book with a focus on destigmatizing mental health, releasing the guilt that comes with self-care, and unlearning marianismo, an idealized traditionally feminine gender role characterized by submissiveness, selflessness, chastity, hyperfemininity, and acceptance of machismo in men.

"For generations, these have been the cultural and social barriers that have stopped so many of us from caring for ourselves the way we need to be cared for," she says.

When Latinas take the lead on their mental health, it comes with its own set of challenges both internally and externally.

"If you have shame around your mental health, you will continue to ignore your untreated trauma," Reichard adds. "If you feel guilty about taking time for yourself because you saw people who look like you, and maybe raised you, sacrificing their every dollar and hour, then you may not invest time and money into your well-being."

But it doesn't stop there. Other cultural nuances have been attributed to placing mental health and self-care as a low priority in a Latina's life. Things like immigration status, financial income, sexual orientation, and even down to our complexion can leave Latinas feeling worn down, hurt, and unsure of what to do about it all.

"The microaggressions that Black and Indigenous Latinas experience daily look and feel different from that experienced by white and mestiza Latinas," she says. "The emotional wounds of trans and disabled Latinas may be different from those who are cis and able-bodied."

Rachel Reichard

In the same way, Reichard says the lives of undocumented, lower-income Latinas are often a much heavier load than those who have legal status and lofty salaries.

"Despite these differences, so many of us are living with untreated generational traumas, bruised inner childs, resilience fatigue, and overall feelings of unworthiness," she says. "Many of us exist within cultures that instill us with competing values and messages."

While self-care won't right systemic wrongs or solve all (or even most) of the issues worrying you, Reichard says, it will allow Latinas a moment to identify what is needed and not needed in their lives. Understanding this will help to better navigate life in ways that serve, heal, and nourish themselves.

Reichard writes passionately about self-love and self-care because it is on the top of her priority list, and she lives and breathes the benefits of this lifestyle. As the deputy director of Somos, Refinery29's channel by and for Latines, Reichard's demanding career makes prioritizing self-care a necessity.

"I wake up early so that I can prioritize my time with myself before my workday begins when my mind, body, and spirit feel fresh," she explains.

For a well-rounded approach to self-care, Reichard focuses on morning routines to fuel her day, and evening routines to help her wind down and conclude her days in peace. This may include taking a warm bath, going to bed early, reading a book, watching a rom-com, dancing salsa in her living room, or calling a friend. These routines aren't meant to be overwhelming or add to your to-do list. It could be as little as one hour dedicated to you, and that can be enough of a self-care boost to keep you balanced, mentally healthy, and free. After all, self-care is a form of resistance against a society that deems rest as lazy and unmotivated.

Reichard aligns with a famous quote by Audre Lorde, a self-described "Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet," who said: "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."

"The reason it's political warfare, the reason it's resistance, is because it pushes back against the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy that runs on all of us, but especially women of racially and ethnically marginalized identities — self-immolation," Reichard says. "Self-care, which is also tied to community care, is a divestment in the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy and an investment in ourselves and our folks."

So the next time you decide to begin your morning with meditation, writing in a gratitude journal, doing some yoga, walking, dancing, or simply sitting in silence while sipping on a great cup of coffee, know that you are taking care of you, something previous generations never had the chance or privilege of enjoying. "Take what serves you and table what doesn't," Reichard advises. "As I get older, self-care for me is really just being able to listen and understand what my whole self — my mind, body, and spirit — is communicating to me, and heeding this wisdom."

Zayda Rivera is a former PS Contributor. She has been a professional writer for more than 20 years. Z is a certified Reiki Master-Teacher, yoga and Zumba instructor, mindfulness and meditation guide, tarot reader, and spiritual mentor.