As we all are currently living in what seems to be the wildest Black Mirror episode of some unaired season, 2020 has been full of unwarranted surprises. From unemployment rates in the United States at a new all time high, to COVID 19 taking the lives of over 100,000 people and devastating families, the new decade has started off with many sour notes. It becomes easy to get lost in the chaos of police brutality videos spamming social media timelines, as well as exhausting when individuals attempt to downplay the injustices that keep occurring.
So it is important that we all don’t forget ourselves in the madness. For people of color during these emotionally heightened times, it is especially imperative to take care of yourselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Here are some of the top five ways to unwind and relax after a long day of activism, essential working, or even taking care of the family during quarantine.
Turn Off and Unplug
Technology can be overwhelming at times. Scrolling through Instagram or Twitter for hours on end can be a very draining task. And throughout the 78th day of the COVID 19 quarantine alongside the Black Lives Matter protests nationwide and internationally, we must find time to simply take a break!
The traumatizing images of mass graves on Roosevelt Island in NYC of COVID 19 victims to the excruciatingly painful video of George Floyd’s death on film can numb the senses and nearly break the mind. So, turn off your phone for fifteen minutes a day, unplug and just take that fifteen minutes to ground yourself. Using silence to your advantage instead of to punish yourself with depressed and anxious thoughts is a powerful expression of self control and progress.
Taking time for yourself is the right kind of selfish act; one of self love and care. Doing this small act, as often as you need can help you recharge briefly so you can go about your day. It may not combat a mental illness or stop the outside world from continuing to crumble, but it can certainly help put your life on pause just so your thoughts and emotions can catch up with your brain and body.
On the notion of reconnection with the body and fighting potential mental illness or mental blocks, meditation is another wonderful exercise that can provide a variety of ways to filter through intense emotions while also scanning the body for areas that you may not have noticed needs attention.
Meditation looks vastly different for everyone. It’s not the typical image of sitting criss-crossed on your floor humming. Meditation can be a quiet salt and lavender bath soak with a lofi playlist on in the background. Doing quick stretches after a body scanning or ground technique can help you put more attention on a sore shoulder muscle or achy shin splints.
Meditation is also your space to identify disruptive or negative thoughts; understanding those thoughts, figuring out why you may feel a certain way, where those thoughts stem from, and how to embrace those thoughts without letting them overpower you are all small wins that can be accomplished during this structured time.
Reconnect with Family and Friends
Once quarantine started in the U.S. many people worried and wondered about how this new world would look and operate. Home schooling, zoom sessions with staff and teachers, Facebook messenger group video chats with friends and family have all increased. For those individuals that may lack the proper social skills to actively use social media and other video chatting platforms to reach out as well as those that may be struggling with a mental illness, reaching out is pivotal.
The #AloneTogether, as cheesy as it sounds, actually rings true. It is okay to not be okay during this global pandemic. It is okay to not be okay with the increased racial tensions and police brutality that have been affecting communities of colors and other marginalized groups. And it is okay to tell yourself “I need to take a break from the world right now”, and call your mom.
Call that family friend or long time college friend you haven’t spoken with in a few months. Talk to your favorite house succulents or your pet! Talk to your therapist, talk to a coworker. Talking while in isolation is essential. We as human beings are social meaning- making beings that need human contact, love, and sense of belonging. Building stronger and healthier bonds with family and friends is a great way to recharge and revitalize yourself on the days when quarantine feels like a drag.
Fight Depression and Anxiety with Self Love
In mainstream culture, it was once seen as unfavorable to even be honest about one’s mental health. So many negative and inaccurate stereotypes about people that suffer from a mental illness have become deeply ingrained in many communities, especially communities of color.
In 2020, new ideologies, resources, and access to such resources for mental health have dramatically changed and become available. Depression and anxiety plagues 18 million Americans every year! Depression and anxiety manifests itself differently in everyone. This looks like poor hygiene practices for some with hyperactivity and mood swings, or constantly working for others. Anxiety can be rapid brain function causing stutters or body trembles.
Mental illness as such can be completely life altering in some cases, which is why it is important to continue to take care of yourself through doing small steps or daily routines that can make your life easier. If you washed your hair today, cooked yourself a nice meal, cleaned up your desk, did laundry, fed your pet, listened to your favorite album, spoke to a sibling, said a small prayer or mantra, congratulations! You’ve succeeded in a small win.
Depression and anxiety or other similar mental illness can often feel like the biggest elephant in the world is trying to squash you and it can break your spirit down. However, reminding yourself and giving yourself those small little victories, being proud of yourself in moments when your mind is telling you otherwise is the ultimate act of self love.
Inspire Yourself with a New Skill or Foster Existing Ones
One of the best ways to keep the mind occupied and engaged in the process of unwinding is a hobby or new skill. Improving techniques for watercolor painting or clearing out your living room to practice a new dance routine, we all have skills and passions that play to our individual strengths.
When you need a break from the daunting reality of the world engulfing us, take time to truly reconnect with yourself and unwind by honing in on one of your passions. Taking the time to become a master at your craft takes dedication and momentum. During this COVID 19 quarantine combined with the tragic ongoing events in the national news, focusing your direction on something positive can be refreshing. If you’re already good at something like crochet, flash fiction and short story writing, video editing or photo-shop, take the time to plan out weekly or monthly goals that can take your talent to the next level, whatever that may look like for you!
Your turn: trouble time is a creative time. In what other creative ways have you learned to relax these days? Share your comments.