5 Self Care Tips For Black Folks, For When America’s Lost Its Mind
Regaining control of our mind, body, and spirit.
Racial tensions have been at an all-time high since the domestic terrorism in Charlottesville, Virginia. White supremacist groups have been spawning up like splinter cells across the nation since the election of, “Not My President” Donald Trump. These dormant hate groups have been waking up across America, thanks to the hate rhetoric of Donald Trump’s campaign and people who supported him. A campaign based on divisiveness won, showing that America is clearly not a post-racial society.
I showed up to work Monday, August 14th, exhausted from watching the media coverage on the Charlottesville incident. I wondered if this was a small glimpse into what my parents went through growing up, and what their parents went through; and so on and so forth. I was emotionally drained and did not feel the need to put on a fake smile for corporate America.
I AM TIRED.
I sat at my desk holding back tears as the rest of white America walked by gaily and unphased, as my world was crashing down. I needed to devise a way to regain my sanity and release these pent-up feeling of anger and resentment. I was displaying symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from constantly seeing people that looked like myself on the media being terrorized, shot, and murdered. Seeing members of the KKK beating a black teen tipped me over the edge. These images continuously go viral on news channels as if it is the new normal. The media is normalizing these graphic images and perpetuating the cycle of death of black men and women, and It has become damn draining.
This is where self-care was essential. Taking a break is necessary in times like these. Some people may be thinking, “but we’re just getting started!” and that's true but in order to proceed, take a step back first and evaluate yourself. Get your mental, physical, and spirit right before you take on the big fight to end racial injustices. I encourage all minorities and allies to take the time out for yourself.
"If they won’t love you, take the time to love yourself."
Here are a few ways you can engage in self-care:
Turn off the news. Constantly seeing negative images can affect on your psyche. Research suggests that for people of color, frequent exposure to brutality involving members of their community can have long term mental effects. According to Monnica Williams, a clinical psychologist and director of the Center of Mental Health Disparities at the University of Louisville, graphic images, can create detrimental psychological problems and on set PTSD. Turning off the news for a few days at a time and not engaging in graphic content, is detrimental to your sanity.
Connect with your tribe. Be around people you love and that love you during these tough times. If you need to vent, let them be the shoulders you can lean on and vice versa. Let your tribe lift your spirits and do the things you enjoy while getting back to your carefree nature. Whether you link up at a bar or at a kick back, make the best of the time with your crew. We all need more love right now, and what better place to get it than from the homies.
Detox. When the stress is becoming overwhelming do some research about detoxes. Stress is a large cause of physical ailments. Colds, fatigue, and flu like symptoms can come about if your body is not properly nurtured. The first step, however, is understanding where to start. Your body is your temple, so don’t forget to take care of it.
Essential Oils. When in doubt, oil it out. My self-care kit is filled with essential oils to help calm and relax my mind. My favorite is Lavender oil, especially when anxiety kicks in and my mind starts over thinking. Mix a few drops of lavender oil in a spray bottle of water and mist the areas that you lay on frequently. I usually mist my couch and bed. The aroma usually kicks in after a few minutes. Take a few slow deep breaths and let the lavender do the rest. Rose, Chamomile, and Bergamot are also helpful. Give them a test run and see which essential oil resonates more with you.
Go Outside. A short walk in the park even during your lunch break can help release some of the tension in your body. Nature is our friend, and the plants are here to help us get back to peace of mind. Read a book, hell, do Yoga, or even just sun gaze for a short time. Let the endorphins flow and watch as your mind and body start to calm. Studies found a decrease in both heart rate and levels of cortisol in subjects in the forest when compared to those in the city.
I’ve said what helps me, but please do what YOU need to in order to take care of yourself. Self-love is essential before you can be apart of any movement (excluding hate groups, of course, they’re lacking love). Try your best not to let the hate that’s in the world consume you. Love is more powerful than fear, we’ve just forgotten.
In the words of the kindred spirit Kendrick Lamar, “We gon’ be alright.”