How to Practice Self-Preservation as a Black Woman in America
Whew, deep breath! The last week has been hard; it hasn’t been hard because racism is new, or the killing of a black person is rare.
It’s hard because, as we raise our black children in America, we have to worry about their safety. Reading about Breonna Taylor, a woman who was shot and killed in her own home, Ahmaud Aubrey, who was shot while jogging and then seeing the image of a white officer sit casually on the neck of George Floyd while he died crying out for his mother was just too much. I found myself feeling hurt and helpless. I couldn’t shake the pain, I couldn’t help but read every story, watch every news story hoping for some justice. I ended up with a massive headache and I could feel the stress manifesting in my body, then it became too much and I recognized that I needed more than self-care, I needed to go into self-preservation mode.
As a black woman in America, it’s necessary at times to practice self-preservation to protect your mental health. I wanted to share a few ways; you can do this whenever you need to.
How to practice self-preservation as a black woman in America
Stop consuming content.
Although I was exercising a few wellness practices that usually help me to feel better, I was consuming too much content. I was losing my balance. I remember reaching this point a few months ago as NYC became the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, I couldn’t sleep or think about anything else, and it began to weigh on my mental health. As I scrolled and read articles, the algorithm gave me more, and before I knew it, my mood was shifting, and I felt wounded. Trying to moderate yourself when you get to that point is hard, and even one more article could be bad for you. Just delete the apps off your phone, that’s what I did.
Take a break.
I mean a real break, not just put your phone down for an hour. Take off the TV for a day, a week, a month off of social media if your mental health is affected by the stories of racism, videos of abuse, adverse reactions of friends and family. Trust me, this is important, we need to be refreshed to think clearly, and we need these breaks to be present with our families.
Surround yourself with people who genuinely love you.
I’ve been disappointed by so many people over the last week as they shared opinions that are disrespectful and dangerous for my family. I’ve had to unfollow and unfriend them as they continued to flaunt their white privilege as black people cried out for help. While that’s hard AF, it feels better knowing that I am surrounding myself and my family with people who genuinely believe that we’re equal and do not see me as less than they are.
Love on yourself.
Self-preservation is all about loving yourself in a time where there are lots of shouts of reasons why you shouldn’t be or feel loved. Make a list of all the things that make you an incredible black woman: your melanin, your body, your beautiful kinky hair, and own them. Think of all the things you’ve overcome despite all of the obstacles you’ve faced. Think about all of the things that make you, you. You’re beautiful, smart, and loved. Own that! Write a list of affirmations for the things that you feel insecure about so you can work through them.
If this all feels too heavy, the burden too much–get therapy. If you find yourself feeling hopeless, sad, crying, and unable to function as you usually do, please get therapy. This is a traumatic experience, and it probably triggered pass unresolved trauma; this is the time to work through them. A therapist will help you and give you tools to to work through those feelings. I’ve been in art therapy for the last six months and I’m so grateful for those weekly sessions.
Start a daily morning wellness practice.
This is one of the best things you can do for yourself, starting your day off with the right energy can really help you manage the stress you encounter well. It it is essential in a time like this to have a wellness routine practice, I shared a few ideas in this blog post. Whether you get down and pray on your closet floor every morning, start a gratitude journal, or gratitude walks—a daily practice before you enter the world or get on social media will help you to deal with the inevitable BS without issue.
I hope these tips are helpful and that you feel loved, heard, and at peace. I love you <3
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