While many people in the BIPOC community have been fighting for social justice for a long time, that fight has gained much-needed momentum and “mainstream” attention following the killings of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and countless other Black Americans this year.
But fighting for change is exhausting—especially for people of color who are simultaneously fighting while working through their own racial trauma. It’s why, in a recent Well+Good Instagram Live for BIPOC Mental Health Month, The Lit Social founder and mental health educator Minaa B, LMSW, emphasized that you cannot be an activist without taking care of yourself when you need it.
“The BIPOC community has so many systems of oppression that we’re facing that self care is vital right now…With self care comes healing,” Minna said during her conversation with writer and Two Damn Young founder Vivian Nunez. “We need each other, but in order to show up, you also need yourself.”
However, she said that the pandemic has upended many people’s normal self-care routines. “[The pandemic] is a traumatic experience that we’re collectively going through,” she said. “What we thought was normal, what we perceived as normal in our everyday lives has shifted and has ruptured.” What used to be your go-to might not be as effective now, or might not even be possible.
Your journal prompt tonight: “What do I need to feel supported?”
That’s why Minaa said everyone should ask themselves this question either as a journal prompt or just as a moment of self-reflection: “What do I need to feel supported?”
It’s important to think about, Minna said, because it forces you to think about your mental health and well-being holistically. “When it comes to my mental health, when it comes to my support systems, when it comes to work, when it comes to everything in life, what do I need to feel supported?” she suggested as areas to start brainstorming. By recognizing that your needs change (and thinking through those needs), you’re better able to identify what to do to address them. Some days that may mean finding someone to talk to about your fears and anxieties. Some days, it might calling a sick day (if possible) at work, or setting firmer boundaries with a relative who consistently causes you stress.
By asking yourself this one question on a regular, even daily, basis, it can help keep that fight in you going. And for both immediate and long-lasting change, it’s vital.