5 Ways to Take Care of You
The past month has been draining. Just when were beginning to cope with one tragedy, we got news of a mass shooting, bombings, terrorist attacks, more police involved shootings, and police targeted attacks. As someone who regularly uses Facebook to clear my head and make political statements now and again, I found it hard to go on with my normal routine of scrolling my feed in my down time. The technology of 2016 has allowed me to see Alton Sterling get shot at point blank range as well as Philando Castile’s dying body as his girlfriend and daughter watched on. Then seeing people I thought were friends and agreeable colleagues express ignorance mixed with my stressful thoughts of “it could have been me or anyone in my family", has made it hard to sleep at night. The recent aggressive action taken on peaceful protesters only adds to the constant state of stress, fear, and sensory overload.
It’s times like these when I find I will look up one day and realize how exhausted my body and mind are. I’ll find my hair needs moisturizing, my nails need trimming, and my body needs water and sleep. As much as these things can seem trivial, you can’t give from your cup if yours is empty. You have to take care of yourself first and foremost.
Self-care is so important and different for everyone. If you are in need, try some of these methods that may interest you.
1. Log off of social media: Literally go in and hit the log off button. It doesn’t have to be for a whole day, just long enough to take a breather. You don’t need to relive the trauma or repeatedly witness ignorance. The effects can be psychologically damaging, especially for marginalized groups of people who are frequently exposed to injustice. Even if you don’t want to unplug in this way, I highly suggest giving yourself at least the first hour of your day when you wake up. If you roll over and start scrolling Facebook, you’re letting people you used to go to high school with, Fox News, and tragic videos set the tone for your day. Find your intention for the day before you open yourself to that information.
2. Do the basics: Get enough sleep, wake up in the morning, take a shower, brush your teeth, get dressed, detangle your hair, eat food, and drink water. This spans outside of your personal appearance as well. Wash the dishes, do laundry then put it away, recycle the 20 empty water bottles in your room, clear your emails, and set that dentist appointment. Completing tasks can give you a sense of control in your life when you feel like you can’t control much of anything.
3. Get your feelings out: People respond to things in different ways and have various outlets. Talk to someone who gets you and understands (or someone you trust will listen) about what you are going through… or don’t. Say no to that outing with your friends and journal or paint or bake or catch up on “A Different World” or finally read that Toni Morrison book you’ve been meaning to pick up. Go to church and pray without censoring yourself or meditate on your own. As long as you’re moving towards healing, you don't have to force yourself to do something you don't want to. You know you better than anyone.
4. Reflect on yourself: There has been so much devastation in the past couple of years alone. Look back to see how you reacted to those situations. What did you do after you heard about Sandra Bland? Orlando? Pedro Villanueva? Alton Sterling and Philando Castile? Did you like how you responded? Do you wish you had waited before you wrote that Twitter post? Was the friend or family member the wrong person to go to for what you needed? What did you need? Was it comfort, an outlet for anger, a place to voice your fears? This will help you figure out the best road back to peace of mind right now and in the future.
5. Put space between the event and your reaction: These suggestions are great to do as soon as possible, but if you’re at work and you hear about something or you’re in a place where you can’t step away, it’s not easy to self care right then. What you can do, however, is something that will work with almost anything. Find space between an event and you’re reaction. If you see or hear about something, try to find space to choose to look more into it when you get home, call a loved one to check in, or find something in you that will allow you to continue your day if you have to.
6. Bonus tip: You don’t have to educate anyone, listen to the ignorance of anyone, or continuously be other’s listening ear if you’re not ready and if it’s a burden.
The number one key is to take care of you. You don’t have to do all of these; you don’t have to do any of these. As long as you’re healing and healthy, we support you.
Teri Bradford (she/her/hers) is the Editor of our lovely Concept: Our Magazine. She loves podcasts, strong leaders, and letting you know that you can find out more on the About page.