Self-Care isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. We all have unique ways of nourishing our mind, body and souls whether that is connecting to ourselves, connecting to nature or connecting to others.
In celebration of International Self-Care Day, we caught up with TikTok and Instagram star, AJ Clementine, known for her LGBTQI+ advocacy, sense of humour and fashion content. AJ is passionate about sharing her experiences of being a transgender woman and helping the next generation feel confident and supported in their journey. Discover AJ’s top self-care tips and how to embrace your authentic self.
What does self-care mean to you?
I feel like self-care comes in all different shapes and sizes. It is interchangeable for each person and nobody's self-care routine looks the same. But for me, I feel like it's definitely about having compassion, and empathy for yourself and your body, mind, heart and soul. It's about knowing that you don't always have to have all the answers. And we are all working towards trying to be better versions of ourselves, but just because we're not there yet, doesn't mean we have to be hard on ourselves. I mean, for me, I was cosplaying as a boy for a period in my life. So life is definitely a journey.
What are your top 3 self-care practices?
My top three self-care practices are pampering. I've been obsessed with just taking care of my skin, my face, my body. And it's just been making me feel so much better about myself and just how I feel day today. Number two is affirmations. Just tell yourself you look cute. Like you deserve those compliments from yourself. And number three is just giving yourself time alone. Just recharging, whatever you need, search within yourself and you will know the answers. Trust me.
How do you stay true to who you are with the pressures of taking part in all the new trends?
We live in a time where trends are coming and going, and they're
constantly changing. And I guess for me, I just like to acknowledge that they exist and to know they're just like a fleeting thing. Whether they last longer or they're just temporary, we will forget about them. And I just take what I want from it and be like, "That's kind of cutesy, I'll incorporate that into my look," or I'll just embody it in some sort of way. But it's also okay to not. It's okay to just watch it from afar and be like, "That's cool, but that's not me. And it doesn't feed me anything. It doesn't give me life. Doesn't give me something to feel good about." So you don't have to be a part of it. I get really bad FOMO, the fear of missing out, and it's okay to miss out. Sometimes you understand your values and who you are as a person and put them first before anything else, especially when it's trends.
How do you manage your anxiety?
So I like to describe anxiety as a frenemy, where we got to keep our friends close but our enemies closer. And I like to practice just trying to understand what's in my presence. And what I mean by that is just processing anything that I can visually see when I'm starting to feel anxious, or if a panic attack is starting to form. And that could just be like the colours of my dress or what jewellery I'm wearing. Taking a mental note of just anything that I'm seeing and kind of distracting myself away from the anxiety to feel more present. And it just does wonders for how I feel in that moment. And then I'm able to just pick myself up and remove myself from the situation, get some air. Anxiety just plays games and this is one way that I can just stop her in her tracks and be like, "Nope, I'm not playing."
How has connecting with your culture helped your mental health?
Like I said earlier, self-care comes in all shapes and sizes, especially if it's connected to being your authentic self. Lately, I've been connecting with my culture and just understanding the history and my ancestors and spending time with my family and also just connecting with my heritage and knowing that I can reconnect, even though I've had trouble in the past with my culture and trying to understand it. And we can be kind to ourselves about that. First understanding that we're not perfect and that we can at any moment try and understand ourselves better is okay. You're allowed to take a step back and know that I'm not great and I need to figure out ways to make myself feel better. And that's something that I've practised throughout my whole life and right now, in this moment. So it's okay to just acknowledge that.
How do you deal with negativity online?
I like to just simply log off and take some time for myself, because as much as it's just so difficult to try and understand why people will say such horrible things, we will just drive ourselves crazy, trying to go back and forth on why and what did I do to deserve that? And sometimes people are just cruel. My first and foremost is to protect myself and to just understand that people have different hearts and different minds. And I try not to excuse why they're doing it. Like people can have whatever they're going through and their own struggles. And I guess we can try and look at it from that perspective. But for me, I like to just think about it in the sense of people are people and we're flawed. We just need to do the best that we can with ourselves. And knowing that it's just noise.
How do you balance the time you spend on the internet?
Balancing my time is definitely something I'm not great with, especially when it comes to the internet. I can get addicted real quick. But I like to remember that there are other ways that we can find inspiration for our personal style, for makeup looks. Just anything that contributes to feeling like our authentic self that we're portraying the best versions of ourselves. And for me, I get that a lot from movies and films and really taking in certain characters and being like, "That's me," and just being inspired by that. And also books and nature and going on walks and anything that really just makes me feel something, I like to incorporate that into how I dress the next day. I love to act with emotions and that's something that makes me feel like my true, authentic self. So it's all about just exploring that and understanding that we can find inspiration in random places.
Final thoughts on Self-Care
When we usually think about self-care, we think about eating healthy or doing a juice cleanse or changing up our skincare routine. And those things are all great to make ourselves feel good. But for me being a transwoman, there's been different things that have made me change my look on self-care and realising that you're going to need to show up for yourself a lot of times in life. And in those times you didn't expect to have everything that you need. But then you know that you're going to work towards it and that you will one day have that hope.
Showing up for yourself is so important. And I think it takes moments to realize that we are here. We are present in our own bodies and we need to take care of that. And to know that also mental health is very important too, how we feel about ourselves and how we take time for that.