Content note: includes discussion of COVID-19, police brutality toward Black people, murder of unarmed Black people
The last few weeks have put Black people through the wringer.
The footage of George Floyd’s death has sparked the largest protest in history with all fifty states and 18 different countries placing a giant spotlight on the effects of police brutality. This has renewed a focus on past events, like the killings of Black people including Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland and Eric Garner, and prompted a 24/7 news cycle about the present and the future—stories of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks……and we know the list doesn’t end there. Not to mention the endless coverage of the current administration. It can all be so exhausting. As a Black woman with many mental health disorders, this constant coverage of Black death has been and continues to be very hard on my mental health. But there have been a couple of ways I’ve been able to protect my mental wellness.
Watching police brutality videos and reading stories about Black death is extremely traumatic for me. Consider taking a break from being online. This may seem like an obvious answer, but during COVID-19 season, I’ve found it even more difficult to part with my never-ending Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Let’s be real. After a while, it’s the same information over and over again. And oftentimes, even the heavy debate about if racism in America exists can be exhausting. Avoid watching triggering content. Not everyone is kind enough to offer a trigger warning, but do your best. Try limiting your online time to fewer hours a day. Delete some apps if you need to. Your psyche will thank you.
Humanize the Victims
It helps me to know the stories of who unarmed Black people were before they became a news story and a hashtag. Sandra Bland was an activist. Breonna Taylor was a medic. Humanize their stories. Honor their memories through art. Celebrate their lives instead of mourning their deaths.
Reach Out To Other Black People
There’s no empathy like the kind that comes from your own community. Just a simple text to check in can open the door for connecting in a safe space. You’re not alone. It’s okay to communally share feelings of pain and grief. But the conversation doesn’t have to stay focused on the grueling task at hand, even if it is at the forefront of our minds. There is more going on in our lives than daily activism.
Pay Attention To Positive Stories
Black kids are graduating. Black businesses are in the spotlight. There are some cute babies that are only a hashtag away. “Pose” is now on Netflix. Beyonce put out a new single. Juneteenth brought Black joy to people across the U.S. And that’s not to mention any of the many things you’ve personally achieved. No matter how big or small, there is always something to celebrate. Take some time to immerse yourself in that content, too.
Stick To Your General Self-Care Practice
When something terrible happens, basic self-care practices can sometimes go out the window. It’s okay if you need a day. But going too long without doing what I know works for me can inevitably lead to a decline. Self-care isn’t a routine to stick with when things are good; it’s absolutely imperative that it continues when things are not so good. I know I have to sit outside for a little while every day. I have to do my skincare routine to stay centered in my daily life. Exercising, meditation, journaling, immersing yourself in your passion projects…—if you’re aware of your positive coping mechanisms, use them.
Know What You’re Doing Is Enough
It can be easy to feel guilty when there is a constant call for action. But understand, the world can’t be saved in a day. A car can’t run without gas in the tank. It is not wrong to need time to find your center before you can help someone else,—In fact, it’s necessary. The movement won’t leave you behind. It’s for your livelihood. Our ancestors fought for the opportunity for our existence.