By Taruna Anil
Please note that the following article includes mentions of hate crimes, murders, racism, etc.
It’s been over one year since the killing of George Floyd struck our nation in a way that can never be replicated.
Since then, social media activism has been at an all-time high, with many people frequently reposting tragedies, infographics, and resources on how to help. This form of activism has benefits. But, it comes at a cost.
Being constantly surrounded by different tragedies is overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. We become so desensitized to these horrors that we accept them as normal. A senseless hate crime is just a part of the day-to-day.
And with this desensitization comes a lot of repressed stress, anxiety, and trauma, bubbling at the surface. Many people of color may experience “Racial Anxiety,” or the heightened levels of stress, fear, and emotion at the prospect of day-to-day discrimination (Perception Institute). A major physical symptom of racial anxiety is adjusting your mannerisms to appear more friendly, which can be an extra stressor. What's more, this stressor (along with witnessing discrimination, racism, and hate crimes) can increase your risk for depression, anxiety, stress, trauma, and substance abuse (helpguide.org).
Little interactions with discrimination, on top of constant stories about hate crimes and murders, can pile up and cause immense stress. Learning how to take care of yourself amidst the chaos ensures stability for your well-being.
Strategies to help:
Talk to someone (whom you trust) about how you feel:
It is common and normal to feel overwhelmed by the constant news cycle. Don’t feel ashamed to share your experiences with others. In fact, it could help those who feel similarly. Moreover, having meaningful conversations with those around you helps bring awareness to these different issues.
If you want to bring more awareness to certain topics, try not to share any triggering or graphic content on your social media platforms. This may aid the mass desensitization of hate crimes and cause the same type of anxiety and harm to others.
Take care of yourself:
Try not to lose sight of what’s important; prioritizing your mental health and making sure you’re taking care of yourself. Self-care is always important and should never be neglected, no matter the situation.
Practice self-care by keeping your space clean, going outside frequently, having good hygiene habits, and regularly contacting friends and/or family. Now that restrictions have started to ease up and vaccines are readily available, this is the perfect time to prioritize your personal relationships.
By taking care of yourself, you’re not only giving yourself a distraction from the outside world, but you’re also getting rid of any excess stressors, on top of the ones you may already face.
Take a break from Social Media:
As difficult as it may sound, we all need a break from the world sometimes. Consider limiting or deleting some of your social media for a short while, until you feel calmer and less anxious.
Don’t feel like you’re betraying the world by not speaking up or using your platform. It doesn’t mean you don’t care about these issues, it means that you’re taking care of yourself NOW so you can speak up more LATER.
Seek help if necessary:
This step is easier said than done. But if you feel like nothing has worked for you, and you still feel extremely anxious or depressed from these constant worries, it may be a good idea to talk to a specialist. There are many therapists and psychologists that specialize in activism or support for marginalized people.
Remember that even though the world is moving so rapidly, it doesn’t mean that you can’t care for yourself. Take it one day at a time. You’re doing great.
"Racial Anxiety | Perception Institute". Perception Institute, 2021, https://perception.org/research/racial-anxiety/.
Weber, Mike. "Racism And Mental Health - Helpguide.Org". Helpguide.Org, 2021, https://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/racism-and-mental-health.htm.