by Anika Ame

Editor’s note: This piece was written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Akron Rose, HARVEST Yoga and Wellness, and I Got Your Back Massage have all reopened, but are operating with modified hours and restrictions. Check their websites and Facebook pages for more details. 

What comes to mind when you hear self-care? Luxurious spas? Lavish vacations? While certainly relaxing and enjoyable, these activities merely scratch the surface when it comes to effective self-care.  

So, what exactly is self-care? I asked three women in the Akron area who have made it their business. 

“Self-care means something different for everyone,” says Denise Debo, owner of Highland Square salon Akron Rose. “It’s about what brings you peace. Vacations are nice, but mental wellness is the ultimate goal.”

Why You Should (Self-) Care

As we are kinder to ourselves, we become aligned with our needs. We’re able to determine what makes us feel renewed. Safe. Well. 

Self-care is not something you do when you find the time. It’s a lifestyle. It’s preventative medicine and self-maintenance, contributing directly to mental, physical and emotional well-being. 

“Self-care is resting, eating well and going to the chiropractor,” says Nicole Munyer of HARVEST Yoga & Wellness Studio. “Personal maintenance is self-care. It doesn’t need to be expensive or lavish.”

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We know stress negatively affects our minds and bodies. So how do we address this realistically with full lives and busy schedules? When we’re parents and caregivers, partners and business owners? Well, first, we change our mentalities.  

Takita Rankin, massage therapist and owner of The Goddess Lyfestyle, tells clients: “Change your mindset, change your life.” 

It’s not the length of time, but how we spend it. We don’t need to block out hours for self-care to be effective.  We can benefit just as much in small doses, or “micro-moments,” as Nicole describes them. “Self- care is a great tool for coping with stress,” she says. “It nourishes our souls by aligning us with our core values.” 

Takita and Denise both stress the importance of regularly loving on yourself if you have children, and how directly it affects their happiness and well-being. “I don’t want them to only see me work hard,” says Denise. “I want them to see happiness and love and why I do what I do.” 

Consider developing habits around activities that genuinely enhance your mental and physical wellness. These activities will be different for each individual. There is no “one size fits all” approach to discovering what self-care means for you, but developing a self-care regimen is guaranteed to be beneficial — life-altering, even.  

Everyone Has A Story

So why did these women choose businesses that heal and empower others?  

“I made important changes last year. Negativity was interfering with my life,” says Denise. “Self-care allows me to live positively, and also encourage growth in others.”

Takita describes life before self-care as traumatic and stressful.  “As soon as I began to love myself, everything changed. I started attracting success and abundance.”

Nicole’s life changed with self-care as well. “Work was stressful, and I experienced tremendous mental and physical health issues. Once I found yoga, it led me to a path of self-discovery.”

Self-care is clearly what you make it, so as you choose what to incorporate into your days, keep in mind that it just needs to feel good and be accessible. It can be as easy — and as free — as a trip to the library, as Nicole does when taking time for herself, and as simple and grounding as Takita’s morning alignment practice. “Every morning I give thanks before my feet hit the floor. I meditate and stretch before I begin each day,” she says. 

As business owners, everyone mentioned the importance of setting boundaries and saying no.  “I’ve let myself go while taking care of other people,” says Takita. “Self-care begins with self. To maintain my health and happiness, I can’t put other peoples’ needs before my own.” 

Denise elaborates, “If I don’t set boundaries, I lose myself. I can’t afford that. People see the rewards of entrepreneurship, but don’t see the blood, sweat and tears that go into it.”

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Self-Caring in the Akron Area

The Akron area is full of self-care opportunities.  “Our Metro Parks are amazing,” Nicole points out, describing how she renews herself in Cuyahoga Falls where she lives and runs HARVEST. “And I don’t wait for just the sunny days to go outside.” 

Tending to home also affects our overall health, too. “Self-care starts at home,” says Denise. “It’s important to build a loving environment and figure out what’s needed to feel peace.”

When you have an urge to get out, though, these ladies are waiting to provide soul-nourishing experiences. “HARVEST is a space for cultivating deeper connection to yourself and others through yoga and monthly empowerment workshops,” Nicole says. 

One block away, also on Portage Trail, Takita offers massage therapy, facials, and holistic spa experiences at I Got Your Back Massage. On Exchange Street, Akron Rose offers microblading, cosmetic tattoos and other salon services.

Harvest Yoga and Wellness is located at 119 Portage Trail in Cuyahoga Falls. Visit www.harvestyogaandwellness.com for class information and schedules.

I Got Your Back Massage is located at 149 Portage Trail Suite 2 in Cuyahoga Falls. Regular hours: Monday-Thursday 10 am-6 pm and Friday-Saturday 9 am-2 pm. Visit www.igybmassagecenter.com to book an appointment.

Akron Rose is located at 1079 W. Exchange St. Learn more about their services at www.akronrose.com

Anika Ame is an artist and educator who runs an online school and podcast called The Lotus Room.

  Photo: used with permission from Nici Munyer.

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