Hi everyone I’m Chantal from Off the Record and today I’m going to be giving you some tips on Self-Care in the name of Racial Injustice
It has been a hard few weeks in the UK and worldwide. Not only are we facing the COVID-19 pandemic, but we have been swamped with images and stories and reminders of racial injustice and for many of us, this has brought up some really really difficult feelings.
Audre Lorde said that “caring for yourself is a form of self-preservation and therefore an act of political warfare”
So, doing daily practices and activities that help keep a little bit of peace is so important right now. Otherwise, you might find yourself burnt out and unable to be helpful to the causes you truly care about.
If you too have been left feeling sad, angry, overwhelmed, powerless, here are some things that you might do to help get that little bit of relief:
Make sure you are meeting your basic needs.
It’s so easy to get consumed by what’s going on at the moment and get lost in our social media feeds or group chats for hours, and, as you do, totally forget to drink water, eat a meal, or even go to bed.
Skipping basic self-care when we’re already not feeling great, is only going to make us feel worse. So if you find this hard to do, try setting reminders throughout the day so you remember to go for a walk, eat dinner, have a hot chocolate or take a social media break and whatever else you might need to do in order to function.
Let yourself feel your feelings.
It’s important that we try to process our negative feelings because pushing them away is not going to be helpful. If you’re angry- that’s OK. Anger is one of our basic human emotions.
Give yourself some time to get in touch with your feelings and try doing this while doing an activity that involves moving your body. Something like working out, dancing and stomping around while listening to angry music, painting furiously, or cleaning your room in a frenzy. Thinking about why you’re angry while doing this will help you get it out of your system and hopefully provide some relief. Then take some time to recharge and ask yourself “OK, what do I really want to do about this?” with a clearer mind.
Protect your energy
We may find ourselves arguing with people, or seeing non stop posts or comments from people who just don’t get it! Try to stop engaging with people who clearly aren’t entering discussions with good intentions, who aren’t willing to do any reading. You may also feel obliged to enter into conversations with people who genuinely do have good intentions and it’s great that people want to learn more, but you don’t personally need to educate people when so much great information already exists. In cases where you do want to engage though, you might want to keep a couple of links handy that you can send to people who come to you with a genuine question.
Decide on and stick to a media diet
A lot of us are feeling obligated to bear witness to what is happening right now—to read the articles, to look at the photos and videos of protests, to consume every single Twitter thread. But remember that what we see on online can have a really negative impact on our mental health.
Give yourself permission to only check the news perhaps twice a day. Where possible, try to delete certain apps from your phone so you don’t open them out of habit.
When it does come to that quick social media binge, you’ll want a feed that you can look forward to scrolling through. In a bid to keep a somewhat clear mind, try unfollowing or blocking accounts and muting words that upset you and engage with uplifting content.
By the way, all social media channels have ways that you can report abusive behavior so if you see something upsetting, report it.
Surround yourself with like-minded people
Why not join a movement to create change? There are many anti-racist movements and organisations who are fighting for change in society. Being part of a larger movement can help us feel empowered, valued and give us a sense of hope that change is possible.
Consider joining supportive groups, like WhatsApp groups or Facebook communities with like-minded people with shared interests who you can talk to and have a safe space to be heard and be reminded that you are not alone.
Remember, if you’ve experienced racism, whether directly or indirectly, it might be really difficult to explain how you feel to someone who hasn’t experienced it, so take your time and only share what you want to share.
Make time for yourself and what makes you happy
Where possible and on a daily basis tune out from all the noise of what’s going on in the world and keep yourself in your bubble of what makes you happy.
Read a few chapters from your favourite book or listen to a powerful speech or a podcast. There are lots of meditation apps that will take you directly to a place of peace. Listening to music is a great way to create a more calming environment- your favourite artists can always cheer you up, even on your worst day.
Express yourself creatively and write down your thoughts to release what’s going on in your head.
Finally, a very important one... if needed, seek support.
Did you know that according to Mind, 50% of people from a BAME background don’t speak about their mental health as they don’t want to place a burden on others—despite 84% of people asked saying they feel good about themselves after helping someone they care about. Reach out to people who you trust and can be yourself around like a friend or family member.
If you find that you’re really struggling, perhaps visit your GP who will be able to advise you on the support available to you locally.
If you decide that you’d like counselling and think it will be helpful to talk to someone of a similar race or ethnicity to you- there are directories available of specialist BAME counsellors or therapists.
Okay so I’ve come to the end of my top tips for self- care during what is a very distressing time for many of us, I do hope that you found it useful. Please do share this with anyone you think may benefit from a bit of self -care right during these times. Thank you for listening and please remember to look after yourself and each other as we stand together against racism.
FURTHER SUPPORT/ RESOURCES
Stop Hate UK
Equality and Human Rights Commission
Black Minds Matter
The Black, African and Asian Therapy Network