Times have changed. Over the last four months, my articles have gone from general wellbeing to managing during a pandemic to now actively fighting the effect of systematic oppression and racism. 2020 has not been an easy ride and looking after our wellbeing is more important than ever.
Here are my top tips for looking after your mental health during the black lives matter movement:
- Be kind to yourself
The first thing I would recommend is to acknowledge the gravity of our current situation. This is no ordinary time and yet people are expected to function as normal. Black people all over the world are struggling with sleepless nights, aches and pains, anxiety, and burnout to name a few. If you are finding things difficult, you are not alone, and you are most definitely not out of the ordinary. When you are having a tough day, the words on your laptop are swimming in front of your eyes and you're zoning out of your zoom meetings, please remind yourself that you're doing the best you can. Sometimes ‘good enough’ during difficult times is exactly what is needed.
2. Release stored emotions
All emotions are valid and everything we feel needs to be expressed healthily. I would encourage everyone to find a way to express themselves. Something as simple as talking to loved ones is an easy and yet often overlooked way to release the load. Journaling or sending yourself voice notes can be a great way to verbalise thoughts. Writing emotions down and burning them can also be a symbolic and cathartic way to let go. If you are more visual, drawing can also be a way of clearing our minds when words are not accessible.
Sometimes when we are overwhelmed, we can retreat into our own mental space. Communing with others can help to let off steam and gain wisdom of those who are dealing with similar issues. If you feel like you need a break from heavy topics something as simple as creating a what's app group for you and your friends to share positive/fun posts can provide some welcome lightness to what is otherwise a very heavy time.
4. Take action
Sometimes when under intense strain we can feel hopeless and/or powerless. One way to counter that is to act which can create a sense of regained control and empowerment. This could be something related to the movement such as donating to charity or sharing information and resources. However, making moves does not have to link with the stressor and so for some action may mean cooking a nice meal, pampering yourself with a long bath or choosing which workouts you want to schedule in for the week. Anything that helps you to feel like you are taking steps forward will work towards supporting your mental health.