July 4, 2018

Article by Courtney Cobbs

Originally, I moved to Chicago to become more involved in the activist community fighting for social justice. I attended a few protests, planning meetings, and other activities commonly attended by activists—but, ultimately, I decided that life wasn’t for me. I eventually found a connection to the community through my Reiki work. So many of the activists who were coming to me complained of being burned out and feeling “drained.” Even being more removed from the activist scene, I could still relate.

What I've learned: Even in this time of "political unrest," you can still practice radical self-love and make a difference.

Here, a few tips on how you can stay well when it seems like the world is on fire:

1. Know That You Own Your Reality

Anything you give your attention, you give your energy to. I figured my time was better spent taking care of myself or working to make a difference in my community in ways that feel authentic to me versus being consumed by the 24-hour news cycle.

The world is a mirror, always reflecting back our thoughts, feelings, and attitude. Ever notice how the days you’re focused on seeing the negative more negative things keep happening? Practice creating your day in advance and watch how things shift in your life.

2. Realize the Purpose of the News

The news oftentimes is scripted and staged to cause mental exhaustion, confusion, fatigue, and fear. Truths are twisted, half-truths are paraded, and deception is underhand. There’s a reason after some “tragedy” comes on the news, you often see a bunch of warnings on your Facebook timeline to “log out” and take care of yourself. Save yourself the anxiety and limit your news time as much as possible.

Also: Don't forget that you get to decide what's best for you energy. I made a Facebook Live video earlier this year explaining that I was tired of all the political conversation. I informed my friends that if the discussion turned to politics, Black oppression, a hatred of White people, etc. that I would leave the space. I once remember seeing the clock turn to 11:11 while I was in a room full of people discussing something I didn’t want to be a part of. So, I made the conscious decision to leave. I felt so great and empowered once I got outside. I remember thinking, “Wow! It feels so good to know I don’t have to be a part of that low vibe conversation anymore." You have a choice about which conversations you do and don't partake in—and you know what you need in a given moment.

3. Reclaim Your Time

With all the time you’ve gained by not watching the news, it frees you up to do things that actually feed your life force energy. Perhaps you can learn a new language, read, meditate, take a relaxing bath, hang out with a friend whose energy you love being around, dance, etc.

I truly believe every second you’re experiencing joy adds more to this world than when you’re experiencing fear, powerlessness, or despair.

I tell my clients often that the energy in which you do things matters. If you are going to that protest or planning meeting out of a sense of duty/obligation, then it’s not serving you or the planet. If you know in your heart of hearts you’d rather be doing something else, especially something that makes you happy: DO THAT!

The energy in which you do things matters.

4. Create Alternatives

Some people feel protest and signing petitions is the way to better society. Some people don’t. If you fall on the “don’t” side please, please, PLEASE create that alternative activity/event/narrative. Don’t do it from a place of opposition, but of being true to yourself and what truly lights you up.

I once came across an Instagram post with the phrase, “Sometimes you gotta create what you want to be a part of.” Let this lead you to create spaces and connections that feel nurturing and life-giving.

Sometimes you gotta create what you want to be a part of.

5. Love on Your Body

Our bodies are the vessels that house our minds and our spirits. Oftentimes, as we take care of our bodies our mental health improves by way of the mind-body connection. Find ways to bring body pleasure, body movement, and body rest into more aspects of your physical wellness routine. Honor your body by really listening to it. Notice how your body responds to certain foods, activities, environments, people, narratives, and beliefs and adjust accordingly.

A version of this article originally appeared on Black Girl In Om.


Read next: 12 Ways to Be an Activist If You Don’t Like Attending Protests