Black Wellness in Times of Crisis
2020 has been… a lot. For many in the Black community, the emotional roller coaster of this year has been painful, yet it’s ignited a renewed commitment to self-love. Each catastrophic event from the devastating wildfires, to Covid-19, to police brutality, and the recent death of our own real-life superhero, has left us reeling.
The world watched as Covid-19 consumed the United States. While we were saddened to see so much sickness and death, it was inspiring to see our nation rally together, ensuring that our loved ones were protected from this terrible threat to their lives. We opened our hearts. And as we sheltered in place for the livelihood of others, many Black Americans were left wishing that the nation could unite against the racial injustice experienced by the Black community.
On May 25th, 2020 George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who held his knee to Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Those excruciating moments compounded the centuries of pain Black Americans have endured since our ancestors were stolen from their homes, enslaved, and displaced across the world. Hopelessness, anger, sadness, fear, grief, and exhaustion. It’s all still there. 2020 has made us painfully aware that despite our strides forward, we still have work to do.
But with the death of Mr. Floyd, something was undoubtedly different. The world was finally seeing what was happening to Black Americans. Not just observing from afar with no sense of agency, but coming to understand that this isn’t just a Black problem. It’s wrong. And we must rally together to ensure that our loved ones are protected from this terrible threat to their lives, just like we’ve been doing for Covid-19.
Finally being able to share what it’s like to exist in a Black body and coming face to face with our own experiences has given us the gift of a new perspective. It’s hard to explain the feeling of the world finally believing you, isn’t it? There’s a sense of relief, a warming feeling, and for many of us, lots of tears. And as we had the uncomfortable conversations, we listened, and we reached out for resolutions, and we realized that we are on a journey to healing as a community and as individuals.
But what does that look like? How do we focus on healing and wellness when our loved ones are dying? How can we take a break when our voices are needed on the streets? The answer, my friend, is an age old proverb: You can’t help others until you help yourself. That’s right, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to wait until you’re “healed” before you can hit the streets again — your activism may be aligned with your healing process. However, creating a wellness practice is a healing way to fill your cup.
If you are looking to create a wellness practice, here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Journaling: A simple $0.50 composition notebook and a pen are all you need. Many people avoid journaling because they don’t think they can do it every day. Who says you have to journal every day? Write in your journal when you’re feeling happy, sad, overjoyed, etc. If that’s every day, great. If it’s once a month, great! Just get those emotions out of you and onto paper.
Creativity: Painting, photography, music, baking, building things. Creative projects help us to feel purposeful, accomplished, and they take our minds off of reality for a while. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re not creative. Everyone is! If you don’t know what your creative talent is, try taking a personality quiz!
Physical Activity: Yoga practice or a workout regimen helps to relieve stress and again, refocus your mind. As we know, physical activity can lower the risk of major health conditions, even more of a reason to move your body! If you’re just getting started, try walking for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week or follow a dance class on YouTube. You’ll notice a difference immediately.
Eating Healthy: Fresh fruits and vegetables contain vital nutrients that actually make you feel good. Really! Try having a bit of fruit in the morning before breakfast. You’ll also want to drink plenty of water and limit intake of processed foods.
Socializing: Difficult during a pandemic, but if you can safely do so, spend some time with friends and family — even if it’s socially distanced. Connecting with others, especially those that understand you deeply, is good for the heart and mind.
Therapy: Processing our emotions with a therapist can be freeing in ways that the Black community deserves. If mental health services are not covered by your insurance, check with your state’s department of health for free or low cost therapy in your area.
Pampering: Go get your hair done, get a massage, read a book, or take a long bath. Self-love is sexy and very necessary.
Rest: Yes, yes, yes. You need rest. We’ve felt the need to work harder and longer than our peers and it’s taken a toll on us. Lay down and rest. Kick up your feet and rest. Sit on the porch, listen to the birds singing, and rest.
Focusing on wellness during times of crisis seems radical. And it is. It’s progressive and it’s far reaching. It’s the ultimate protest, to be well in the face of such odds. It’s a slap in the face to those that seek to oppress you. Your divinity cannot be suppressed, your beauty cannot be snuffed out, and your glory shines from within. Be well. It’s your birthright.