Women in Wellness: YourCare Collective

On April 20, 2021, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of George Floyd’s murder. For many of us, it has been a long time coming, and our community has been fighting for accountability to be served for his tragic departure. It is hard to believe that we have been battling twin pandemics for over a year. Now, more than ever, Black folks need to cultivate spaces to care for themselves. Although this past year has been difficult, wonderful communities have been born out of these dark times. During a global pandemic, Your Care Collective was born.

Can you tell us a bit about Your Care Collective?

Your Care Collective (YCC) was established in June 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Founder and CEO, Joelle Tolifero sought out to find a community who wanted to focus on their well-being and learned that the highest area of need within the community was amongst those working remotely. 

Your Care Collective is building a virtual-first collective of well-being experts, mental health practitioners, and integrative/functional medicine doctors to serve this community wherever they are, however they work and whatever their well-being needs. 

We provide free monthly programming and virtual coworking and our quarterly Focus Area Collectives, where members can engage in a structured plan for their well-being led by our expert team!

What does wellness mean to you?

Wellness is a component of our overall well-being. I see well-being as the ultimate goal and wellness as a tool. Wellness practices like working out, meditation, health eating, engaging positively with your community all build upon one another to create a well life. 

When did you become passionate about health and wellness?

Against my advisor’s recommendation in graduate school I took a mindfulness intensive course that changed the way I viewed my wellness journey. I learned about the neuroscience behind meditation, how it changes your mind, literally, and opens you up to healing. 

Being someone who is not great at routine I learned about how to build a practice for myself that works for me and not against me. Over the years my wellness practice has ebbed and flowed and I always fall back on what I learned in those courses and the great muscle memory I grew through playing field hockey. 

I became passionate about creating communities for health and wellness for others when I needed one myself. I was building a different company while working full-time and launching a wellness event with a partner and I wanted to schedule in the care I was giving back to myself and not just others. So I gathered a group and did just that and the conversations we were having sparked what would become Your Care Collective

Why should Black women focus on their health and wellness?

Black women suffer from major health disparities as a result of a long history of systemic racism. It is so important that Black women are taken into consideration when wellness programs are developed and that facilitators represent the community they serve and are culturally aware. 

There is an understandable hesitation towards the health and wellness industry by many people of color but it also puts them at a disadvantage in creating proactive solutions for their well-being. Black women should focus on their health and wellness because they deserve to be well, and because systems have stripped them of the care they have a right to for far too long. Black joy, Black wellness, and Black care is resistance that Black women deserve to engage in. 

What does being Black-owned mean to you?

Being a Black-owned business sometimes feels like we have to carry the same burden that Black folks have to carry as individuals: You must work harder, be better, be excellent, just to be viewed as good enough. 

In 2020-21 there has been a lot of investment in BIPOC businesses and I have reaped these benefits, although there is still the lingering thought of… what if it’s not enough, what if the opportunities stop, what if these people decide Black Lives no longer matter and therefore their investment in their businesses are no longer necessary. 

Being a Black -owned business is both a celebration and a responsibility that white business owners will never have to carry.

What are some misconceptions about wellness?

There is a belief that wellness practices are  for white people and that is a huge misconception. What is not a misconception is that there is often a big price tag. Your Care Collective has worked to create programs that serve their community that are accessible, there will always be options for free, engaging programming and there will always be an option that costs no more than a gym membership. 

 How has the pandemic and racial unrest impacted you?

The racial unrest although not new, coupled with the pandemic was truly enlightening in a variety of areas. We were put in a place where we had to make choices about expressing our beliefs and managing our health and safety. At that point I was also still working for a company full-time and had to grapple with being overworked and inundated with horrible and depressing news. 

As an individual I had to cling tightly to the wellness practices I built for myself and invest in a consistent therapy practice. I also had to evaluate a lot of friendships I had/have in my life and assure that conversations I previously avoided with my white friends were no longer put on the back burner. 

As a care provider I took the space I needed to navigate the hard days and created opportunities for discussion for those who were interested. 

Can you tell us about your self-care routine?

I am a woman of variety who has learned to identify key components of self-care and then have a few options within each category. For example I enjoy cardio intensive workouts but I am not somebody who likes to run the same path each day. Instead I pick between spinning, HITT classes, hot yoga and a job. I like to speak truth to my thoughts and emotions and within that space utilize therapy, journaling, and asking my support system to listen to my vent session. I gain energy from nature so I engage and care for my plants, step my bare feet in the grass and sit outside on nice days. 

I say all this to say self-care is a matter of figuring out what is best for you and creating systems that help you thrive. Do you thrive in structure, maybe you should run the same path each day. Do you thrive in flexibility (this doesn’t mean skip the self-care when you don’t feel like it) then maybe each day you do something, but not always the same thing. 

My favorite apps/Communities:

Soultime Christian Meditation

Shine App & Podcast

Spotify Daily Wellness

Therapy for Black Girls

Black Girl In Om

Ethel’s Club

To keep up with Joelle and Your Care Collective, follow her here:

Instagram: @joellecare @yourcarecollective 

Facebook: Your Care Collective

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