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Author Sophia Nelson: The end of the pandemic is in sight ― and women need a 'code' of self-care more than ever

Nelson shares her story and offers seven self-care tips as we enter recovery mode and start to rebuild our businesses, careers and families.
Sophia Nelson, journalist and author of "The Woman Code."
Sophia Nelson, journalist and author of "The Woman Code."Courtesy of Sophia Nelson.

As we prepare for post-pandemic life, we need to acknowledge just how much Covid-19 has hit women in the workforce. Women lost more jobs. Women carried more stress. Women had more pressure on them to master the ever-elusive work-life balance.

That’s not all.

Women have had to care for our aging parents and for our school-aged children. Women have had restless teenagers at home and/or college kids who headed back to shelter in place. We’ve had to make sure the family was fed, the laundry done, all while working our full-time jobs via Zoom. Or, if we are front-line workers, we had to expose ourselves and our families to the virus.

The bottom line: women were and still are at risk every day amid this global pandemic that has changed all of our lives, in many ways, forever. And for women of color the impact of Covid-19 has hit even harder.

According to Forbes, the pandemic has placed even more burdens on Black women. During Covid-19, the majority of Black women ― 52 percent ― reported being the “only” of their gender at race and work. In addition, they are more unlikely to feel uncomfortable bringing their whole selves to work and sharing thoughts about racial inequity. They’re also 2.5 times more likely to report the death of a loved one, but 1.5 times more likely to feel uncomfortable sharing the news of grief or loss, according to the article.

This distinction is so important to note because often we link the experiences of white women as being indicative of the experiences of all women. And we know this is simply not true. For example, we recently had Equal Pay Day, with Americans taking note of the pay gap between white men, white women, and women of color. Here we are in 2021 with white women making 82 cents for every dollar a white man makes. For Black women, that number drops to 61 cents and for Hispanic women 53 cents.

As a Black woman entrepreneur, I can tell you that I have dealt with all of the above ― all while taking care for my aging mother, checking in on my aging father and making sure everyone in my family got their vaccines. I had to do all of this after having Covid-19 myself and while keeping the money flowing into my business. The emotional toll of fighting depression and feelings of isolation, and worrying about my own health and my family’s was extreme. I know I am not alone in my experience.

My response wasn’t to give up or to give in. It was to realize I had to take better care of myself emotionally, spiritually, financially and professionally. So I set out to update and re-release my second book, “The Woman Code: 20 Powerful Keys to Unlock Your Life” and join forces with Mika Brzezinski of “Morning Joe” and Know Your Value to help women better cope with Covid-19, all while using the “woman code” as a compass.

Here are a few self-care tips I want to share with women as we go enter recovery mode and start to rebuild our businesses, careers and families:

Know Your Value: You are worthy. You have value. You deserve rest, peace, support, love, friendship and something for you ― just as you do for others. Self-care starts with you taking care of you first. You cannot pour from an empty cup.

Build a Strong Circle of Good Women (Know Your Row): We all need friendship, support and encouragement. Make sure the women in your life live by a code of loyalty, laughter, love and celebration of your successes. You are only as strong as your row of friends and mentors.

Sophia Nelson, center, in 2015 with supporters. During difficult times, Nelson says it's important to build a strong circle of women who have your back.
Sophia Nelson, center, in 2015 with supporters. During difficult times, Nelson says it's important to build a strong circle of women who have your back.Courtesy of Sophia Nelson.

Teach People How to Treat You: We model to others how to treat us by how we treat ourselves. You set boundaries. No means no. People will only treat you how you allow them to.

Have Courageous Conversations: We live in a world of texting, blocking, ghosting, deleting, unfriending. It’s time to talk. Get help. Talk it out. Pull people aside for a one-on-one conversation. Don’t suppress your pain or concerns. Talk it out like human beings need to do.

Be Resilient: We are women, We are strong. And we get back up. Know who you are. Know that you have survived worse. And that you can and will get through this.

Lift Other Women As You Climb: If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s NOT to take life for granted. And that we are a community of global sisters. We are accountable for one another. We must lift up other women as we climb.

Reconnect with You: The pandemic has been a time of tumult and challenge, but also one of more time to think and more time to connect with ourselves. Take advantage of this.

My hope is that by sharing these few practical, but oh-so-necessary codes with you is that it will help women everywhere take a step back, practice self-care first, and then climb back into the arena of work, life, and family more resilient, more focused and more balanced than ever before.