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A Time To Fight, A Time To Heal

Wellness is undergoing a paradigm shift. Aditi Rao finds that she is here for it

By Aditi Rao  May 21st, 2021

From the time self-care entered our lexicon, I have uncomfortably tiptoed around it. Perhaps, the inward-looking, self-centered rhetoric bothered me in addition to the growing commodification (the wellness economy amounts to US$4.5-trillion worldwide, estimates the Global Wellness Institute, US). Lately though, a newer, more well-rounded approach to wellness started to become part of the discourse. As the pandemic, mounting effects of climate change and Black Lives Matter protests highlight, inequalities are on the rise. In light of this reality we inhabit, self-care becomes a radical act of survival and taking up space.

The Role Of Rest

A social revolution has a sense of urgency built into it, which can be exhausting. Regardless of what our fight is, there is increasing recognition that we are in this for the long haul, and that rest and recuperation are essential parts of the revolution. Showing up, educating, organising, agitating and demanding to be seen and heard require pockets of self-care to help avoid burnout and sustain our movements. The added threat of being prosecuted, which has become more real in recent times, warrants effective stress management systems.

Healing Together

Multidisciplinary artist Ayesha Kapadia created mulhum (‘balm’ in Hindi) as an oasis for protestors to gather, find ways to care for themselves and the community and to share tools for collective healing. Through this initiative, the 31-year- old sought to create a pit-stop for rest and rejuvenation. “I believe in just allowing and creating spaces to be. Being compassionate, soft and vulnerable together is enough to heal the world and make it a better place,” she says.

The Question Of Access

Consider any calamity— the ones that are affected disproportionately by it are communities which are disenfranchised and financially marginalised. Many communities and individuals have begun work to decolonise the wellness space and through that, reclaiming access.

Illustration: Bianca Celine

Going The Distance

Healing looks different to different individuals and communities. It may mean finding gynaecologists and therapists that align with us socio-politically, teaching ourselves to set healthy boundaries or holding and participating in community circles, a little bit of everything. Healing can also be found in activism and advocacy. Like writer, actor and podcast host Tavi Gevinson said in an interview recently, “There is a connection between self-care, and figuring out what you believe politically and what are your values.” For me, 2021 is going to be about arriving at the right mix of values, work and wellbeing.

Download your digital copy of ELLE’s April 2021 issue here.