Everything that has happened in the past couple of weeks, although intense , was not surprising. The oppression and systemic racism that has affected the Black community goes back centuries. Despite this, many white people have not avidly worked toward understanding the struggles of the Black community until recently. In the past month, however, , many have joined the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and are working toward achieving long-term change by way of ending qualified immunity and defunding the police--two pieces of legislation that take steps in the right direction. However, this is not the end goal. Many white people have begun to recognize that it is no longer enough to be passively anti-racist. Rather, they must be actively anti-racist. As a result of this realization, many are working to inform themselves about how they unintentionally perpetuate racism in their own lives.
Most people, myself included, have been monitoring BLM updates on their social media feeds and the news incessantly. The amount of information we consume affects our mental health and, especially in a difficult time like this, we must slow down. That being said, here are some quotes and actionable steps you can take to promote your wellbeing:
- “Feel the Feeling, but don't become the emotion. Witness it. Allow it. Release it.” -Unknown
In order for you to get anything done, you must acknowledge your feelings. Anything from journaling to talking about what you feel with a therapist can allow you to, like the quote suggests, acknowledge your emotions, experience them, and move past them. This is easier said than done and takes a lot of practice. Some practices that can help you cope with your emotions include meditation, exercise, and even crying. You must allow yourself to be sad, angry, and frustrated in order to heal and be a better ally. It is necessary for you to value your emotions so you can value the emotions of others more authentically.
- “It takes discipline not to let social media steal your time.” - Alexis Ohanian
Social media can be a powerful tool, don’t get me wrong. However, in times like these, it is easy to feel that if you are not on social media every hour of every day that you're not staying adequately informed and could be labeled an oppressor. This is untrue. You can actively advocate for others on social media while not devoting all of your time to it . A new study published in the “Journal of Depression and Anxiety” found a link between high usage of social media sites and increased depression. The research, which was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), involved nearly 1,800 individuals and tracked their usage of 11 well-known social media platforms. The researchers found that participants checked into social media an average of 30 times per week for just over an hour per day. Depression testing revealed that approximately one-quarter of the participants were at a high risk for depression. When social media and depression were compared, it was determined that those who used social media more often were about 2.7 times more likely to be depressed than participants who used social media less often. This study shows exactly how negatively social media can affect your mental health. In order for you to be mindful you must unplug from time to time to allow yourself to have the mental space to grow and learn. Your lack of participation on social media will increase productivity and create long-lasting change in your life.
(If you are experiencing symptoms of depression please reach out to someone you trust or call the Depression Hotline at 1-866-294-0316.)
- “Self-Care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.” - Katie Reed
Taking time to do the things that “fill you up” or bring you joy can allow you to revitalize. This is to say that you can't be expected to be the best version of yourself if you don't take care of yourself. Being mindful and educated about what is going on around you takes time and energy. However, if you don’t allow yourself to have the energy or time, then you are stalling the change within. The best way for you to continue supporting the Black Lives Matter movement has to come from a place of deep reflection, which is found when you slow down and refill your energy.
You are living through an important moment in history. If you choose to be on the right side of history, you will be required to help enact societal and systemic change.. But you have to look after yourself in order to truly seek and be the change necessary in society. This can only be done if you take a moment to slow down and breathe. “Silence is choosing the side of the oppressor but no one can scream indefinitely.” Recharge. Recenter. Repeat.