It’s not the end of days, but it’s starting to feel pretty close.
If you haven’t heard, things in this country aren’t going super well (and if you haven’t heard, congratulations, you’re doing an amazing job practicing self-care and you can just skip this article altogether.)
When things around us start to tank, it can be easy to internalize the stress and allow ourselves to tank as well. We neglect our bodies, our minds and ultimately our spirits. And this is a problem, because in order to make meaningful progress in our communities and our nation, we need our bodies strong, our minds healthy and our spirits high.
When you feel yourself starting to collapse under the weight of the world, take a deep breath and take a step back. Practicing self-care may seem like a selfish act, but if reform is a race, it’s the only way we’ll reach the finish line intact.
Talk About Your Feelings But Know When To Take A Break
I went to a Jewish elementary school and even as a kid, I remember being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of Holocaust-related literature and content I was being asked to consume. The photos and stories were graphic and they gave me nightmares for years. When I asked my parents why my teachers were so insistent on making us relive these tragedies, they told me, “We talk about it so we don’t forget. We talk about it so that it never happens again.”
It’s incredibly important to have conversations about racial violence. Talk about police brutality with your friends, your co-workers, your children and your parents. Have real conversations about racism with anyone who will listen—and especially with people who don’t want to.
Talk about what’s happening right now, but know your limits. Recognize when you’re not contributing positively to the conversation anymore or when you just need some time to talk about something else. And, most of all, know when it’s time for you to be quiet and listen.
When so many things are happening in the world, it can feel counterintuitive to cut yourself off from your main source of information. But often, the best way to process everything that’s happening around you is to simply remove yourself from the equation.
When you feel yourself starting to get overwhelmed, get offline. Go outside, take a walk, remind yourself of all the good things that exist in this world. If you can, limit the number of times a day you check social media.
At this point it should go without saying, but whatever you do, don’t read the comments. No one, in the history of the Internet, has ever said, “What a lovely and thoughtful dialogue I just had in the comment section of that political article. My whole worldview has shifted! I must away to the nearest bumper sticker store to buy all new bumper stickers so I can share all my new beliefs with the world!”
Take a break from the Internet. Whatever terrible, heartbreaking news story is developing somewhere on this godforsaken planet will still be happening when you log back on. I promise.
Know That You Don’t Have To Watch Every Video
It’s vital that we educate ourselves about current events. It’s crucial that we hold our judicial system accountable and continue to press for police reform. We can do better and we cannot allow our society to backslide. Incidents like these cannot be allowed to become weekly occurrences.
If you struggle to watch these videos, that’s okay. All this means is that you’re a human being with a functioning heart.
With that said, you’re not required to watch every video that gets posted online. These videos are captured because they have to be—in a country where people continuously deny the need for movements like #BlackLivesMatter, these videos provide tangible, visual support for why these groups need to exist.
If you struggle to watch these videos, that’s okay. All this means is that you’re a human being with a functioning heart. Take care of it; the last thing this world needs is a bunch of people who have become so numb to violence that it ceases to affect them.
If you don’t feel comfortable watching a video, don’t watch it. And consider adjusting your Facebook video application settings so that videos do not auto-play.
If you’re the one posting the videos, take a second to think about how what you’re posting might affect someone else. Add a trigger warning to your post or consider not posting altogether. Look for opportunities to look out for someone else.
Be Proactive And Productive
In times of crisis, some people grieve by giving back. If you’re looking for a way to contribute, consider donating your money, your energy or your time to the cause.
Donate funds to Alton Sterling’s family to help put his five children through college.
Donate funds to Philando Castile’s family.
Donate funds to the Assist the Officer Foundation to support the families of the five fallen Dallas police pfficers.
Contact your state representative and ask them what steps they’re taking to address police reform in your area.
Get involved with Black Lives Matter or another organization like it. Find an event in your area or start your own event.
Treat Yourself (And Others) As Best You Can
Ultimately, practicing self-care means doing what feels best for your body and your brain. Pay attention to the things that relax you and balance you and then do those things as hard as you can.
Eat three full meals a day. Get enough sleep. Take a break to get outside and exercise. Keep a folder full of puppy GIFs on your computer and play them in times of need. Pay it forward (or, if you’re at a coffee shop, pay it backwards and buy a drink for someone in line behind you). Light that candle you’ve been saving and re-watch any movie with a highly choreographed dance number.
As we’ve seen, time and time again, life is too short not to live well.