Take Care of Your Mental Health During the BLM Movement
This is how we can take care of your mental health during the BLM Movement:
“Liberation is an everyday practice. Health, wellness and vitality are all forms of resistance, especially for black, brown and indigenous communities. The more we take care of our mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, the better we will be able to show up for ourselves, each other and the movement.”
– Ayo Clemons, Minneapolis
As one global pandemic continues to devastate the country, another has followed suit. Outrage toward the systemic racism and prejudice facing the Black community has come to a peak, and the Black Lives Matter movement only continues gaining traction. Many of those watching the uprisings unfold from home may feel powerless, overwhelmed, terrified, or full of rage, while protestors on the ground are struggling with the trauma they’re witnessing, the fear of what’s to come, the anger at what has already come to pass, and the looming threat of COVID-19 in the very air they breathe. It’s a lot to handle, and it’s having a disastrous impact on their mental health. Reports are pouring in on social media of people posting that they’re crying often, having trouble sleeping, feeling terrified, and feeling irritable. Those out on the streets risk arrest, serious injury, and even their lives — whether that’s due to the coronavirus pandemic or police brutality. Either way, amidst all of the trauma, it’s important now more than ever that you show up for yourself and make time for taking care of your mental health during the BLM movement. Here are some ways to do just that.
Take a break from social media
According to health professionals, the countless protests and fallout from George Floyd’s death that have filled your social media timelines and news sources for the past several weeks can be extremely troubling for your mental health. For the Black community, there are moments of uprisings, like the one that we’re in now, and then there’s also the ongoing daily work that includes constant and compounded trauma that many Black Americans are experiencing. The practice of self-care has to be constant. Part of that constant self-care can mean disengaging from social media. Dr. Rachel Mitchum Elahee, a psychologist who works with military veterans and civilians experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, explains how protestors are at risk of developing PTSD due to this burst of violence. “PTSD develops from seeing and/or experiencing trauma or even the fear of trauma where it’s possible that you will be seriously injured or lose your life, or that somebody else will be seriously injured or lose their lives.” Secondary trauma is real, just like racial trauma and racial fatigue is real. The more of these images that we are drowned with, the more we may experience stress. Thus, it is imperative for anyone closely following this movement to take social media breaks during this time, especially when it comes to watching videos of police violence.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
“Instead of just walking away, you want to go and participate in something else that is actually going to reinforce or combat some of that negative energy,” recommends therapist Destiny Robbins. Make sure to keep up some kind of structure or routine in your life, in order to maintain control of your emotions. Consider taking time away from the negative and filling it with something positive. Dedicate time for nature, relaxation, creative self-expression, music therapy, goal setting, or journaling – whatever helps to bring you some peace of mind. Also don’t forget to maintain your physical health during this time, as your physical and mental health are extremely interconnected. Practice regular exercise, nutrition, water intake, sleeping, breathing, yoga, medication, etc. as best as you can.
Talk to a Therapist
As therapists, the best way we can support the Black Lives Matter movement is to continue to provide a safe space for all people to speak about issues related to power, privilege, and prejudice. Especially in times like these, when it can be difficult to physically make an appearance in a counselor’s office, online therapy can work as an effective bridge. Meredith O’Brien is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New Jersey, working with her team of affiliate mental health clinicians to provide therapy sessions in a nurturing environment to help people, work out their emotions and reach their treatment goals. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they will be offering 100% virtual sessions by phone and/or HIPPA compliant ZOOM. Click here to set up your first telehealth appointment.