QUESTION: What are some ways to practice self-care when I’m confronted by racial trauma?
DR. JESS: I think one of the first things to do is to recognize that this is a larger issue than what’s occurring in our individual lives. You are not alone in your experience if you’re feeling anxious and depressed around racial trauma.
I encourage people to take a break from the news, specifically if any violent acts are being looped on replay. Take a break from the social media channels that perpetuate the violence by showing the traumatic incidents over and over. There are some studies that have shown that it does induce anxiety in people who are watching. You want to be mindful of that.
Also, find some support — starting with talking with your friends, family, or folks you might feel comfortable with. Then, I encourage people to try to expand that network and look for people who are also interested in doing the work to help improve equity for everyone in this country, specifically, but also throughout the world as it relates to race. Sometimes you can find these people on social media. Sometimes you can find them in your work environment. Keep your ears open to people who are really interested in doing the work there.
I also recommend taking care of your body by doing things like yoga and breath work to really honor the space that we are all given within our bodies. I think that can be a great way to reconnect with yourself.
Finally, take breaks. It’s OK if you need to call out of work. If you need to have a mental health day, it’s absolutely OK to do that.