If you read another disturbing headline about police brutality, church burnings, systematic racism, and God-forbid one more story about an unarmed person of color dying at the hands of law enforcement – you’re going to scream!
You’re finding yourself grappling with fear, feeling anxious, and at times depressed about the current state of our country and what’s going on right here in Asheville.
It’s a continuous cycle of stress.
What you feel is real.
Scientific research proves that adverse experiences, including those caused by racism, result in post-traumatic stress. The race-based trauma that Black people endure goes back generations and has a deep effect on you. In fact studies suggest, through cellular memory, this trauma is intergenerational and passed down your lineage. In general, the Black experience can weigh heavy on your emotional health.
If you’re on the front lines advocating for social justice, your stress levels may be intensified. And, you’re probably feeling burned out or what mental health practitioners refer to as compassion fatigue.
Compassion fatigue – The emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events. It differs from burn-out, but can co-exist. Compassion Fatigue can occur due to exposure on one case or can be due to a “cumulative” level of trauma. (The American Institute of Stress, 2015)
There’s a saying, “You can’t care for others if you don’t care for yourself first.” That advice is wise and true.
As you approach the holiday season consider prioritizing your needs, but take it a step further. Give yourself the greatest gift of all – love.
Love yourself enough to practice self-care so you can refresh and begin to heal.
Here are 7 steps you can take to get started:
- Meditate/pray – Find a quiet spot to center yourself and clear your thoughts. Take a 3-5 deep, cleansing breaths. Sit in silence and/or pray. Practice yoga at one of the many studios in town. Participate in corporate prayer and visit with a local bible study group or attend worship service (Asheville Black church listings).
- Positive self-talk – Be aware of your thoughts. When negative or any thoughts that don’t serve you creep into your mental space, discard those thoughts immediately. Replace them with positive statements.
- Move your body – Movement is a powerful stress reliever. It doesn’t necessarily have to be formal exercise. Make it a goal to move your body every day. Stretch upon waking. Stand at your desk while working. Take a walk. These are simple ways you can incorporate movement into your daily life.
- Spend time in nature – Go outside, even if it’s for just a few minutes. Allow your body to soak up rays from the sun. If it’s warm enough walk barefoot in the grass. Grounding yourself in nature helps eliminate stress, anxiety, and exposes your body to much needed minerals. (Asheville park listings)
- Journal – Grab a pen and paper and write. Don’t worry about writing perfectly. Just give yourself permission to honestly communicate and express your thoughts freely to vent or relieve tension. (Handcrafted journals by Black-owned business Journal Junky).
- Unplug – Pull the plug on all of your electronic devices. Take a day or two to limit your television time and disengage from social media. When you plug back in be sure to censor the shows you watch and your social network newsfeeds. Make it a point to replace negative imagery and false information with enlightening and positive material.
- Seek supportive relationships – It takes a village. Reach out to old and new friends. Share your challenges and remember it’s okay to ask for support. Search for communities with like-minded people who share your goals and vision. (Here’s a diverse, local online community to join: The Color of Asheville. And of course Date My City events are great places to make connections!).
Will you begin your self-care practice this month? Do you have other self-care ideas to add to the list?
Thanks to Kelly Goins for this post!