Raven Gibbs, certified wellness counselor and founder of Mindfulness Movement NC, shares some thoughtful tips on how people can navigate through the intensity of living through COVID-19, racial violence, and a global antiracist uprising. Especially for Black and Brown folx, this is an extremely stressful and traumatizing time. Gibb gives a guide to help us continue to show up for ourselves and for our community with strength and love.
Honestly, I want to continue producing content that both inspires and enlightens, but this week, I’m tired. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. Nina Pop. The list is overwhelming and the ongoing violence against Black people is exhausting. The current events coupled with the lasting trauma from years of inequality might lead one to ask “how does one heal if this keeps happening? How do we cope when history keeps repeating itself?
Frankly, I can’t answer those questions. I wish I could, but I can’t. Everyone processes information differently and coping is not a “one size fits all” ordeal. Coping is done at one’s own pace and with methods that are most suitable specifically for them. What I can do, however, is offer advice that has worked for me and stay hopeful that it helps you in some way.
1. I know and understand being torn between wanting to stay present and connected with updates, protests and news regarding current events, and the need to unplug, debrief, and slow down. That decision is incredibly difficult, however, I urge you, even if it is only for a few hours, please turn off your devices. Constantly viewing racism and violence is in no way good for your mental health. In fact, there is evidence to support the association of racism and both depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. There is also evidence to support that this trauma can be passed down generationally. So, if not for you, take a moment for your kids and future generations.
2. Right now, it is likely that the words are escaping you. It is hard to talk about the madness that is occurring and that’s okay. Meditate and sit with your thoughts. Cry if you need to. Journal. Scream. Pray. Process at your own pace. Release as you feel compelled. Don’t feel pressured to reveal how you feel with immediacy. Also, coping looks different on everyone. What works for those around you, may not work for you and that is okay.
3. Remember that you are not alone and everyone, even your “strongest” friend, needs support. My friends often describe me as a high-functioning individual who seems to have it all together. Love, I absolutely do not and I am not ashamed to admit it. I realized that allowing myself to be vulnerable and reaching out is not a sign of weakness, but an incredible act of strength, wisdom and maturity. You NEED people. Determine who your support system is and allow them to be there for you. It is okay!
4. Realize that you cannot be everything to everybody. Do not feel pressured to be in a role that is not the best fitting for you and your skills. Hone in on the skills that you are able to contribute during this time. Everyone can’t be on the frontlines. If you are skilled in the areas of organization or writing, for example, maybe your strengths are better suited in writing a petition or letters to local government. Maybe you are older and would like to be alongside your people in protest. Put your skills to use by making phone calls to demand justice or by educating youth that may benefit from your wisdom. Activism is not a one lane highway. If your lane is protesting, protest. If your lane is counseling and support, counsel and support. If your lane is being able to wake up again and survive another day, survive! Don’t feel obligated to occupy lanes that are not yours. We need people in every role, but only opt into the roles that support your gifts and abilities or else your efforts likely won’t be of the most value. Again, it is okay.
5. If you do not feel well enough to join the fight, that is okay. You are fighting to survive a pandemic and a revolution simultaneously. I admire your strength. I love you and I am here as a support to you.