Inspiration: Borderline (An Ode to Self Care) by Solange
We been lovers on a mission / So let’s take an intermission – Solange
You’ve been overexposed. Overexposure is defined simply as excessive exposure, especially to something harmful. Many people (especially black people) can 100% admit to experiencing this recently along with the overwhelming feeling and exhaustion that comes with it. In a quote from Self Magazine, psychotherapist, Alanna Gardner, M.F.T., refers to life for black people in this country as “emotionally taxing” and unfortunately many are unsure of how to deal with it…or we just don’t deal with it. When you’re angry and outraged over constant images of black suffering flashing across television screens, and frustrated with the persistent trickling of harmful and insensitive comments on social media timelines it can become easy to fall into the need to FIGHT as often as possible – so maybe you do. There’s a need to be doing something against injustices at all times – so you try. Then, a feeling of depression hits when you catch a wave of hopelessness, not sure if you’ve done enough. You’ve taken action , but you’re tired – for now.
Pause: If you needed a sign that it’s okay to take a step back, this is it. Take a step back. Caring for yourself in and of itself is a form of protest – you’re not caving and you’re not giving up, you’re going within and you’re healing. What can you give to a mission when you’re too drained to play your part? Trust that you’ve done all that you can do at the moment. Here are some things you can do right now to give yourself a break and get a little relief.
Let’s take it off tonight / Break it off tonight – Solange
Are you allowing yourself to feel your feelings?
The care of self is necessary, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to be fake-happy. You shouldn’t ignore, or be insistent on pushing negative feelings away without properly processing them. Unprocessed feelings can often later turn into bouts of depression, panic attacks, or a build-up of anger and fear that can one day drive you towards actions that you’ll regret. That is not self care. Find time for yourself and do what you need to do. If you need to sit down in the shower to cry, sit and cry. If you need to scream you can do that too as long as your environment offers a space where you can comfortably and safely do so. Try journaling your feelings, boxing and other intense workouts, going for a run, yell-singing to angry music, or visiting rage rooms. Get some fresh air. Release. Let your frustrations out fully and once you’re done feel yourself return to center. Rinse and repeat as often as needed. This is not a “one and done” thing. This is not a race, or something you’re being tested on. Take your time.
Baby I know you’re tired / Know I’m tired
Let’s get down to the basics.
Being stuck inside has most likely gotten you off-track. It’s become routine to scroll through social media timelines and group chats consistently looking for updates. Then, just as you think things are slowly turning around, you’re drawn right back to the screens searching for updates in fear and anxiousness, and neglecting yourself in the process. Maybe you’re missing meals, forgetting to exercise because you’re too tired, or going to bed at crazy hours. Remember that forgetting to complete these daily habits can cause you to feel even worse than you already are because your basic needs aren’t being filled. To help get yourself on track try habit tracker apps that’ll help you re-build a workable routine. I’m currently using an app called Strides: Goal & Habit Tracker, but if you type “habit tracker” into your app store search bar I’m sure you’ll find something that fits your needs. Try adding in things you’ve never done before such as meditating, journaling, or lighting a candle with your favorite scent. Eat foods that will nourish you rather than deplete your energy and become more mindful of how you’re spending your time.
You know I have the world to think about / And you know I gotta go ahead and take some time
Time for a social media cleanse?
The first recommendation is to take a social media break if you can – from everything. Only check the news a couple of times a day and turn off social media notifications. If this isn’t an option for you, but you want to change your social timelines the next thing that I would recommend is for you to go to Twitter, Instagram, and other social apps to mute words that trigger you, or cause fear and anxiety. This works very well and can (mostly) keep you from seeing comments or posts that you’d rather not expose yourself to. Sometimes 1 or 2 can slip through the cracks, but this is better than being overexposed to traumatic events repeatedly through reposters. Another suggestion is to turn off automatic video playing, which can allow you the chance to scroll past harmful videos (and then block the user if necessary). Don’t hesitate to block people that are commenting insensitively and having a field day trying the patience of all of the black people in the thread when it comes to current sensitive issues.
Baby let’s know when to let go / Know when to let go
Get lost in beautiful, black art.
I learned in university how to re-route my attention in a healthy way towards media and images that brought me joy, especially in moments of sadness and worry. I had season one of Living Single on DVD, so I would watch the same episodes over and over again – laughing as if I’d never seen them before. Bring out the speakers and stream your favorite artists. Vibe to Aaliyah, Summer Walker, Maxwell, Sadé, Whitney Houston, or Meg Thee Stallion. Watch black films, read books from black authors, and find black owned businesses to support. Take your time refocusing your attention towards the beauty that lies in black people as a whole and smile at how wonderful we are despite how others try to portray us. Embrace and love yourself completely. Your black is beautiful.
Break it off tonight / Take it off tonight
Ignore insensitive sh*t-starters.
Don’t allow yourself to be tolerant, or responsive towards those arguing against #BLM. For me, it will never make sense why some become upset at black people for stating that their lives are important. Obviously, this in no way infers that anyone else’s life is less important, but those that vehemently argue against this I often wonder wether they agree with the opposing idea. If so, that says a lot about their mindset and their true intentions. Don’t give them the satisfaction of a reaction. Arguing with people intent on misunderstanding you is cause for a headache that you don’t need to endure.
It’s safe place tonight / Let’s play safe tonight
Find your safe space.
Connect with other black people who may be feeling the same as you are. If you are in a space where you feel alone with your fear and frustrations take the time to seek out black communities that you can share your feelings with. This isn’t always easy (especially if you’re an introvert like me), but finding people that you can openly, and without judgement, be yourself around is very important at a time like this. It feels good to have someone say “I understand you” and you know for sure that you don’t have to question their sincerity because they have most likely had some of the same experiences that you have.
Baby I know what you’re fighting for / Baby you know what I’m fighting for
Don’t let yourself become so overwhelmed and drained that you feel you can no longer function. Take care of yourselves, remember how beautiful you are, and harness the power you hold within you. You’re okay. We’re okay. One day at a time.
Take care of yourselves.