Self-care is probably one of the most overused hashtags on social media—we’re all guilty of using it even when not practicing it. Whether it’s posting about our hot yoga class or Reiki session, we’re all eager to let others know that we too are taking care of ourselves. 

But living well is far more than just the perfectly-filtered pictures we post on social media. Thankfully, Gianne Doherty is helping women, especially Black women, give more consideration to the actual meaning of self-care and wellness with the W.E.L.L. Summit, which stands for wellness, empowerment, learning and luxury. 

Wellness is one of the buzziest words of the moment. But what does it really mean?

“[It’s] not just hitting the gym or treadmill,” Doherty tells ESSENCE. “I believe that wellness is a 360-degree conversation from what we eat, to the products we put on our skin, to the company we keep, and the thoughts we feed ourselves.” 

Doherty has made it her mission to spread this message to Black women to “break the barrier that wellness equals monetary wealth.” She alwats to see more women of color represented in the wellness industry. This passion led her to co-found W.E.L.L. Summit as a space where wellness could be discussed from a practical point of view. The multi-day event, which takes place in New York City on Nov 3-5, is comprised of panels, workshops and mediation classes led by one wellness guru Latham Thomas

“The W.E.L.L. Summit is an inclusive and diverse space that celebrates self-love, empowers self-care, and above all shares tools to encourages each attendee to live their best wellness experiences (as defined by them),” Doherty explains. 

“We want attendees to learn from world class experts and leave with actionable steps that they can apply to their life,” she adds. “Education is at the core of our programming.”

While Doherty has intentionally created a space that’s inclusive she does admit that there’s still a lot more to be done. “The biggest need in the industry is the lack of diversity,” she shares. “I’m biracial, Irish-American and Afro-Caribbean; inclusion is at my core. For those of us in decision-making positions in the green beauty and wellness space, it’s really crucial to ensure that diversity—not just race, but also age, body type and background is represented in everything we do.” 

Because everyone may not be able to attend W.E.L.L. Summit, Doherty’s powerful advice for how we can all implement true self-care into our lives is to really consider the power of choice.

“We are presented with hundreds of choices on a weekly basis, being mindful with how we respond to those choices is the beginning of one’s self-care and wellness practice,” she says. “We don’t have to overhaul our lives to start a wellness journey, but we do have the power to make small changes that can have big impacts.” 

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