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Being Black has never been easy, but these last few months have been especially rough. In the midst of a global pandemic that has disproportionately affected Black communities, we also have to witness continued anti-Black violence and killing. It’s scary, stressful and traumatizing.

We have moved beyond the term “self-care”; we are at the point of self-preservation and self-protection. The following is some advice for protecting your mental health while trying to navigate this harsh reality:

1. Saying No To Others Is Saying Yes To Yourself

Self-care is not just a spa day. It is preserving and protecting, setting limits, saying no and stepping back. This includes saying no to white people who want your help to understand racism.

2. Everything Doesn't Deserve A Response Or Your Energy

Block and turn off commenting. Respond with awareness and advocacy. Respond with purpose and intention. You do not have to go back and forth with people.

3. Take A Break From These Images

Watching racism is traumatic and harmful to our health. You need to disengage at some point.

4. It Is Important To Decompress

Decompressing will be different for everyone, but some things are a must — like closing the app and walking away. Counting to 10 is also helpful even if it sounds childish. Affirmations and reminders of wins — big and small — are healthy, too.

5. Prioritize Your Sleep

A lack of sleep puts you at risk for anxiety, depression, decreased concentration and even suicide.

6. If You’re Not OK, Say It

Say it with no excuses for others.

7. Build And Reach Out To Your Support Network

Especially if you are going to protest, let someone know. There should be someone to make sure you made it home safely.

8. Continue To Love Being Black