Checking in: How are you?
The unanimous answer in light of the current racial filled climate is, not well sis.
And rightfully so. It’s increasingly impossible to escape the vast influx of news coverage broadcasting the gruesome details of the events that led to the deaths of George Floyd. And Breonna Taylor. And Ahmaud Arbery. And Sean Reed. And Tony Mcdade. And a host of other hashtags that were once innocent lives of black men and women who were slain simply because they were black.
These tragedies are a constant reminder of the racial barriers that continuously threaten the lives of African Americans.
These reminders greatly impact us psychologically and mentally. Experiencing discrimination on any level directly brings a large amount of negative physical and mental health risks. These risks already plague our community in ridiculously high numbers.
Anxiety, depression, and insomnia anyone?
In this time of revolution and uprising, we have to stay strong and show up as our best selves. Leading with our heart is crucial. Leading with our mind, body, and soul, is vital.
Here are a few tips on how to manage our already high levels of emotions during this time of disarray.
Let it out
There are a lot of emotions being felt right now. Be sure to let those feeling out in a healthy manner. Call someone you love and vent. Journal, now more than ever. Go into a safe space, and scream as loud as you can. Your feelings are valid. Don’t fight them, embrace them, acknowledge them, and release.
This is a no brainer, but still worth mentioning. Take breaks, frequent breaks, from social media. The same information will still be there when you log on again. Remember: we’ve been in quarantine for over 3 months, so our mental health is more than likely not in the best state. Flooding our brain with triggering information does more harm than good.
Set a daily timer for your apps. If you’re unsure how to do this (and if you have an iPhone), go to Settings ->Screen Time ->App Limits -> Add Limit. These daily limits will really help restrict your screen time.
Do not touch your phone right before you go to bed, and for a few hours after you wake up. These images we see online follow us into our dreams, hinders our yearn for a good night’s rest, and promotes anxiety towards the next day. I’ve gotten into the habit of charging my phone in another room before I sleep, so I’m as far away from it as possible.
Be in your body
Tune in. Make sure to exercise daily to manage your endorphins, that’ll in turn reduce anxiety, and elevate your mood. Dance around your room, naked if you can. Do yoga, go for a run, do anything to get your blood pumping to lift your mood naturally.
Meditate. As often as you can. Mediation decreases tension and stress in all areas of the body and promotes relaxation. Mediation can be just 5 mins of quiet time in the shower. Or the first 10 mins after you wake up, while lying in your bed. Just a cycle of deep conscious breaths.
Quiet your mind. When thoughts come, acknowledge them, let them go, and focus on your breathing.
Be mindful of your consumption
Again with social media, but also with what you’re eating. The foods you eat directly affect your mood. Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and mood disorders, such as depression. If you’re protesting, make sure to pack a lunch to ensure you’re getting the correct nutrients you need.
Find a complete list of mood boosting foods here
Recognize the unique position you’re in right now
Just a quick anecdote. We are a part of history right now. The revolution is being televised. This thought alone makes me smile. And also,
Recognize your power
Don’t ever forget: we are descendants of royalty. Our crown may slip but it will never fall.
Realize your role
A lot of people feel anxiety because they feel helpless or are unsure of what their role in this revolution is.
Fight. Use your voice. But use it in a way that’s unique to who you are as an individual. If you’re a writer, write as much as you can, and share your stories because you never know how it can help. If you’re an educator, share your knowledge with others. If you’re a musician, create music that brings feelings of relaxation and peace. If you have some unemployment money to spare, donate.
Take some time to rest and recharge
Take as many naps as needed. Listen to music that uplifts and breathes life within you. My favorite way to recharge personally is to sit in my living room and drink a hot cup of tea. The warmness of the tea kisses my lips and stays there, providing comfort and ease. Check out one of our favorite brand, Ivy’s Tea co (founded by @shanaedidgood) here
Sage often to cleanse the energy around you. Take long showers or baths often to cleanse the energy that clings on to you.
Keep relations in tact
Social and familial support are our biggest allies when we’re feeling down. There’s strength in numbers. Embrace your black brothers and sisters now more than ever. We have to rebuild our community by learning together and sticking by one another. That way if you fall, you have someone right by your side ready to pick you up.
Jhene Aiko wrote a beautiful poem that she posted on her Youtube channel this week. The first few lines are:
don’t forget to rest
even when you can’t sleep
and don’t stop believing
even when you can’t dream
take a deep breath
for those who can’t breathe
and continue to fight
however it may be!
Short, but powerful. It’s important to note that in order to really support others, you need to be ok first. Similarly to flight safety instructions that informs you to put your oxygen mask on first, before helping someone else. Proactively and positively cope with your feelings and emotions during this time by keeping your mental health a priority. Remember: health is wealth. Proclaim this statement and keep it at the core of your being. Without health, we are unable to build our communities for the next generation. Without health, we are unable to build our legacy for the next generation. This is vital, as the next generation that comes about will revel in the changes that this movement brings. Don’t forget to
continue to fight
however it may be.
Trè is a Harlem based artist. She is a theatre actress, writer, amateur photographer and professional chef, at her house. She is a plant mom to 4 beautiful ferns.