There is so much that communities are currently facing – an ongoing pandemic, a potential economic fallout, worries about job insecurity, and grieving as a community as we once again see the effects of police brutality on the Black community.
Doing activist work during this time is difficult. How can we manage all of the stresses of this moment while also staying engaged and vocal in our communities? As a community organizer, how can I continue to be the best activist that I can be while also acknowledging my mental health needs?
Let’s make no mistake here – those with white privilege don’t get a pass to sit out the current Black Lives Matter movement and uprisings across the country. Now is the time for folks in power, including myself, to step up and stand in solidarity with the Black leaders in our communities and support their needs.
While we find ways to continue to show up, we must also take care of ourselves at the same time to ensure our contributions to this work can endure. Being kind to yourself is key to the longevity of any movement.
While mental health care isn’t one-size-fits-all, I wanted to include some things that I am doing so that we can continue to invest emotional resources in activist work.
- Do something that you love every day, no matter how small. Taking time to care for yourself will go a long way in upholding the commitment that we make to our neighbors. For me it looks like setting aside a few minutes each day to spend time with my dog, de-stressing by watching lighthearted television, and calling my family to check in with them. These actions require just a couple of minutes but can have a longer-lasting impact on mental health. When we make time to take care of ourselves, we can continue to take care of our community.
- Spend time educating yourself. Even if you only have five minutes in your day, try to keep up with the news or read the chapter of a book by prominent Black activists. During this time of the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s up to those in privilege to educate ourselves on the histories of racial inequities in our nation and to reflect on how we can be allies to the movement.
- If you like to write, journal. Journaling is something that I personally rely on. It helps me make sense of the world and reflect on how it is impacting me in real time. Journaling can help you write down your thoughts and feelings without judgment, and it’s a place to ask questions and be curious. It can be therapeutic in times like these because it helps us to document what’s happening in the present moment while also carving time for personal reflection and insight.
- Acknowledge that it’s okay to just be getting by right now. There can be a lot of pressure to show up for activism in ways that might not align with your current needs. Our mental health is being compromised severely during this pandemic, and doing activist work also takes a toll. Activism is deeply rooted in taking action based off of our values and emotional compassion. When that emotional compassion is running low or when we’re experiencing burnout, it can be hard to take action for the things you’re passionate about. Using this time to think about what you need and what capacity you have to give to others is important.
This is a difficult time for everyone, and most folks are trying to gauge how invested they can be in activist work while managing stress on many fronts. I want to be here to serve affirmation that even if all you can do right now is read articles to educate yourself and have conversations with your family and friends – that is crucial work that is valuable. If you are being active on social media and continuing to raise your voice for justice in the Black community – that is crucial work that is valuable. And if you are
donating to bail funds and are able to show up in physical spaces for change – that is crucial work that is valuable.
Take care of your mental health, do what you can, check in on your community, and we will create change together.