Being stuck at home, the emotions we face can be as intense as ever. Handling all the stress that comes from media, online work and our personal lives is not an easy weight to balance, especially under the film of a global pandemic. And recently with the emotional and mental exhaustion media has put us under for advocating for Black lives, it’s hard to take care of ourselves to avoid burning out.
But, what’s important is to navigate all we feel during these turbulent times, and while that can be done through a variety of methods, here are some tips on tackling everyday stress from one anxious teen to another:
- Evaluate what’s stressing you
This is kind of like a mental retracing of your steps; whether this is from a conversation with yourself or through contacting someone you can trust, sit down and go over all that you need to do in the day. After listing these things, ask what about the task(s) specifically is stressing you out.
Note that this answer doesn’t come right away. Sometimes to find the source of your stressor you need to dive into that stress and break it down to point out why exactly it’s overwhelming you. Once you can identify it, it’ll be easier to strategize how to alleviate it.
- Distracting yourself (in a healthy way)
Utilizing certain distractions is a common way to step back from whatever you’re feeling. While this does run true, it’s important to make these distractions something positive and healthy for your well being. Healthy distractions are taking a break from those negative feelings and having a moment to be fulfilled with good ones!
While that can include watching videos or scrolling through social media, watch and scroll with caution. So much of the content we consume on social media can feed into insecurities. To avoid meeting with them, I suggest creating a saved folder on your socials specifically for positive content from funny or adorable posts, or even creating a watch or music playlist with the same pure feeling. Tune in to what you know makes you happy!
- Give your brain a break!
If you’re anything like me, you either aren’t working at all or working so hard you’re on the brim of burning out. Absolving yourself into work or media is easy to fall into. Working on homework at a consecutive pace, watching news broadcasts and reading endless pages of articles is very well possible. But, after hours and hours of surrounding yourself with it, it can leave you feeling more exhausted than accomplished.
There’s no denying it’s important to stay informed with both the Black Lives Matter Movement and updates on the pandemic. However, it’s easy to get caught up in negative news and endless comment sections of ignorant statements that demean what black people have been fighting for. It’s essential to both step in and step out of the media. There really is nothing wrong with taking a break from it, but whenever you come back, just be sure to pace yourself.
This can also be applied to online work; while it can be overwhelming it’s still important to get it done. So, take each thing you need to get done in a day one step at a time, allowing breaks in between to recharge and tackle the next thing with just as much energy and confidence.
- Set goals and act accordingly
How each person sets and defines their goals is unique to them. That could be setting up a list of each type of thing they need to do or how long they have to get them done. Depending on the person, writing, typing or keeping a mental list of all these things allows room to feel accomplished of what you’re getting done.
For yourself, it’s up to you to decide how you set your goals, but remember, make them reasonable! Each person has miniature goals—what to tackle in everyday life—and greater goals—ultimate achievements throughout life. When making them, decipher ways to get them done that work best for you specifically. From each day to each week or even longer, create it so that you can uplift yourself as often as possible by simply knowing how much you’re getting accomplished.
- Remind yourself
While you’re doing all that you can from day to day, remind yourself that this is your life and your journey. The way that you deal with these times is up to you and the way you choose to, as long as it’s not harming others, is what’s best for you. That could be through conversations, donating to local and national sites promoting justice and relief to the Black community or simply being an ally to your Black peers through what’s going on.
Though it is commonly said, there’s so much power in truly meaning that everything will be okay. So, even if you don’t feel as productive or as happy or as motivated, remind yourself that feeling that way is okay. Be gentle with yourself, everything you feel is a process that helps ultimately bring you to something even greater.
- Reward yourself
For everything, you accomplish to simply get through the week, celebrate yourself for doing it! As mentioned, it’s not easy to perform at 110 percent, so you must reward yourself for still striving for it during a time where it can seem impossible.
The weekend is a time to destress and relax from all that was holding you during the weekday. So come every weekend, take the time to detach yourself from all that you’ve gotten done, no matter how big or small, and reward yourself for doing it!
Also, as Black people, it’s important we look to uplift each other during a time where we have to survive. We are advocating from our phones, homes and on the streets for justice; it’s essential to dedicate time to celebrate how far we’ve come and each push we’re making to a greater future.
- Practice doesn’t mean it’s always perfect
Once again, be gentle with yourself. You may succeed in some of these steps, or hopefully all of them! But it won’t take one easy method to alleviate your stress and that is more than okay. All of these things take practice! You must express each feeling you feel and continue to work on building an emotional awareness for yourself. You got this!!
The stress and anxiety you feel during this pandemic is more than qualified. In any moment even besides the film of a pandemic, it is qualified. It’s not easy to be okay with all that’s going on in your own life and the world that surrounds you, but take a step each day to help yourself be okay. You’re more than capable of coming out of this stronger and happier and it will truly all be okay soon.
For all those reading in the Black community, I want to emphasize how important it is that we take care of ourselves, especially during this time. While we have been met with a level of justice for George Floyd, the fight is not over yet. Be open to lean upon Black mental health services (linked below) and conversation with those in the community because first and foremost, we have each other.
Black Counseling/Therapy Resources:
- Black Girls Smile Inc. is a nonprofit organization that works to promote mental health resources for Black girls through signature workshops, focusing in on several topics such as mindfulness, positive relationships and coping skills.
- The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, founded by Tarji P. Henson, works to progress mental health awareness and resources within the Black community
- The Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective works to create better access to health care and healing for the Black community
- The Black Lives Matter Counseling Center from University of Kentucky hosts numerous articles and resources for healing and allyship