“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
A lot is happening in the world right now. We’re fighting a global pandemic, there’s growing tension not just in Kenya (#endpolicebrutalityKE, #whatisourgovernmentdoing), but globally too – particularly in the US as black people battle racial injustice – all while juggling our everyday lives. While I don’t know how it feels to be African American, I feel the pain of seeing and living in an unjust world.
The world as it is, feels cruel and frightening. In a time as this, it’s easy and entirely understandable to feel sad and overwhelmed, angry and hurt. The world is hurting. Our home is hurting. I do however believe that even in adversity, it is possible and paramount to our well-being, to find little pockets of joy. Joy, in the form of laughter, peace, love, hope and faith.
As we grapple with the stresses of racism, classism and discrimination, let’s not forget that a holistic approach goes a long way. Plainly, you cannot be good to others if your health is on the decline or if you’re in an all round miserable state. Especially, not yourself. By all means feel your feelings, however painful. But when you do, allow yourself to move to a state of balance.
Here are some ideas on coping in helpful ways:
Limit Your Social Media Use
While social media is important in keeping us informed and connecting us to opportunities for participation, overconsumption can lead to an unhealthy obsession with news. At this point it ceases being a platform for connectivity and becomes one that triggers and builds on your stress. Be mindful of your consumption.
Limit your time on social media, either by setting a time limit on your fave apps or if you’re more disciplined than I am, decide to check the news only twice in your day.
Whatever you do, set healthy boundaries. Limit your exposure. Go offline. Decompress.
While we’re on the topic of news, it is equally important to process the information you’re receiving and the emotions being stirred up as a result. When you read discouraging news and even venture onto links that show disparaging comments from ignorant people, it’s easy for your stress to snowball. Acknowledge, breathe and do what you need to process and regain a sense of warmth.
Take a break from your normal surroundings. Nature is soothing and for me, provides respite for my overactive mind. Outside, I can really engage my senses in appreciating how vast and beautiful earth is. While it may be largely intuitive that nature is good for the mind and body, contemporary research makes a case for this too – if you’re interested in reading more about environmental psychology, check this and this out. Maybe even read through while sitting under an oak tree?
Celebrate Black Art
I came across this in this article on self-care for black people and loved it. Find a way to make the fight for justice part of your everyday because the truth is, for real change to occur, we must make our efforts outlive the current protests.
What happens 6 months down the line? We still buy from black owned businesses, we still support black content creators, we still watch black movies and rock out to Whitney Houston and Toni Braxton. As someone who relishes in the creative and entertainment space, this is one area I feel I can be more intentional as a way of self care but also as a way of supporting my people.
Celebrating black joy helps us “stay rooted and connected to something bigger than (our)selves and (our) grief.” While we’re here, check out this list of my go-to black love movies – you’ll love it!
Eat Well & Exercise
Fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to be strong and healthy. Stimulate those endorphins – you will feel more relaxed for it. Take care of your body and it will take care of you. Need I say more or are you going to add more spinach to your plate?
Journal, meditate, pray – be still enough to sort through the mental clutter. Life comes at us fast and it’s in the moments that you slow down that you remind yourself who you are and what’s important to you.
The body and mind are not designed to be in perpetual motion; do nothing so you can recharge, reinforce learning, ignite your creativity, reduce stress, improve your memory and reconcile your feelings.
Talk to your loved ones. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that love heals. Whether it be about systemic injustice or your lamb chops recipe, nothing like a conversation with someone who channels comfort and light into your life. It serves as a heart warming reminder that there is still so much kindness in the world.
Identify Ways You Can Help
Recognise that there are many ways of helping and that you can’t help everyone. However, in the little or big way that you can, whether it be penning your frustration (privately or publicly), donating to reform, supporting black owned businesses, signing petitions, participating in protest, respectfully calling out problematic perspectives within your community, paying your domestic workers better and most importantly, educating yourself, do it. Play an active role in the pursuit of equity, liberation and justice.
Mind Your Language
We’ve probably all used generalisations and absolute terms like “the world is terrible”. However, it’s important to recognise that parts of the world are terrible, not all of it. If we’re going to be critical enough to recognise the ugly, let’s be aware enough to recognise the good, too. Encourage your worldview to be honest. Acknowledge the facts, but avoid potentially harmful, blanket statements.
The other day, while at Bible study, I found myself distracted. In a moment of realisation, I decided to refocus and that session turned out to be the most engaging and informative. Don’t miss moments to be inspired. Be rooted in the present. And when the present is hurtful, be present in that hurt because it’s part of the healing process. Incase you struggle with being present, you might find this helpful.
- To help Kenyans during this crisis and learn more about police brutality
- A thread on police brutality in Kenya and it’s roots in racism
- A video on how the police in Kenya are trained
- Policing & public services as seen from marginalised spaces
- Police brutality in Kenya during Covid
- To support the #blacklivesmatter movement (1)
- To support the #blacklivesmatter movement (2)
- Books to educate yourself on white privilege
- Netflix series to educate yourself on black oppression
- 125 black-owned beauty brands to support
- Systemic racism explained
- How to be actively antiracist
- Justice for Breonna
This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a starting point (please feel free to share additional helpful resources in the comment section). Lastly, let’s not attack people for not knowing how to best participate. We are fighting against one cause: justice. Being divisive is counterproductive. Instead, educate. May we continue to recognise opportunities to exercise our obligation to eliminate systemic injustice.