Self-Care Interview with Joelle Phua
"Self-care to me means listening to my body and honouring what it needs. It also means leaning into the season that I’m in - sometimes the pace of life is slower, and sometimes it’s faster."
Joelle is a UX designer by day and a life coach by night. Through her work, she aims to empower women of colour to live restful and grounded lives. She is also a foodie and is obsessed with finding her next yummy food stop in London - recommendations welcome!
What does self-care mean to you?
Self-care to me means listening to my body and honouring what it needs. It also means leaning into the season that I’m in - sometimes the pace of life is slower, and sometimes it’s faster. It may feel uncomfortable, but as women and women of colour we’re so used to discarding what we need in favour of societal expectations, so it’s important to come back to who we are.
Has your perception of self-care changed, particularly with the events of last year?
One of my biggest realisations in the last year is that there doesn’t need to be a purpose for absolutely everything we do. Which means that self-care can be for no rhyme or reason at all! In a year when all we’d known has been turned upside down and challenged, I think it’s high time we challenged our ideas around self-care.
What are some of the misconceptions around self-care?
That self-care is an act. In fact, self-care can be a lifestyle. Self-care is a way of looking at the world. Self-care can also be anything that brings you joy. *cue Marie Kondo philosophy*. Also that self-care is simply for ourselves. Community-care is, in my opinion, just as important - if not more.
Capitalism and human need for categorisation means that “self-care” has been shoved into a materialistic, individualistic and “only-for-when-I-feel-down” box, when self-care is so much more expansive than we can ever imagine. (Although if you want to splash out on a nail and spa sesh, go for it!)
What are some of your favourite self-caring activities/self-care routines or affirmations?
Anything that brings me joy - from sharing good food and conversations with friends to indulging in a sheet mask whilst watching the latest kdrama. I’m also trying to make massages a more regular thing as my muscles have been quite tight in the past years.
How do you make sure you’re regularly prioritising self-care?
If it’s not in my calendar, it’s not happening. Scheduling is key because my time is important to me. I schedule everything from date nights to self-date nights! But of course, when I feel spontaneous, I go for it - it’s all about listening to what my body needs.
Why is it so important to keep going even when you’re feeling better in yourself?
Because self-care is a celebration of existence. To be able to even entertain the idea of “wellness” and to practise certain elements of “self-care” is a privilege which means that we must treasure it even more. As well as that, one of my favourite sayings is “you can’t pour out of an empty cup”.
In a time when everyone seems to be scrambling for purpose and recognition, connection and community is what suffers. And in order to have the capacity to resist oppressive societal structures and take care of each other, we must take care of ourselves.