Monday, March 29, 2021, marked the first day of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s criminal trial for the murder of George Floyd. Although this trial comes 10 months after George Floyd uttered his last words “I can’t breathe,” the trauma may still be fresh for many of us.
If you are choosing to tune in to listen to the trial, you may be reminded of the history of systemic racism, discrimination, and injustice that plagues our society and negatively impacts members of our UMBC community. When we are treated unfairly or when we witness discrimination of others that look like us or our loved ones on a day-to-day basis, we can start to feel helpless and hopeless. In these moments of increased distress, it is important to cultivate hope through positive acts of self-care.
If you are intentionally not choosing to tune in to the trial because of the impact it may have on you, that too is self-care. Here are other ways that you can make sure you’re taking care of yourself while continuing the fight for social justice:
Listen to your body’s needs. Your body needs consistent nourishment, upkeep, and exercise. That includes eating a nutritional diet, grooming, moving regularly, getting enough sleep, and addressing any health issues. Find activities that make your body feel well-loved and comfortable, and schedule out some “me time.” Remember, self-care is not selfish.
Find your community. Surround yourself with people who affirm your experiences and support you. Join communities that are inclusive and care about social justice. Talking with others not only sparks new relationships or re-sparks ones that may have been fading, but it also works as a therapeutic method to express your thoughts and feelings, bounce ideas off each other, and even engage in conversation outside of current events. Even though everyone copes differently, that does not mean we need to do it alone.
Know your limitations and avoid burnout. Over-information is a real thing. With how quickly information spreads in today’s society, it is easy to always be consuming, summarizing, and distributing information often without proper evaluation of what information is key or accurate. Protect your mental health and emotional energy by knowing when to turn off your newsfeed and social media notifications. Give yourself room to reflect on and process the information covered in the meantime.
Get help if you need it. If you would like to process your emotions with a mental health professional, consider contacting the Counseling Center between 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM at 410-455-2472 to schedule an appointment or 410-455-3230 after hours. You can also reach out to the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI), Initiatives for Identity, Inclusion, and Belonging (i3b), or the Women’s Center.
Support others if you have the emotional capacity. Check out these anti-racism resources curated by UMBC offices:
The Counseling Center’s resources to address systemic racism, racial trauma, and anti-racism, and ways to get involved
I3b’s community call to action
The Center for Social Science Scholarship’s anti-racism reading and resource guides
The Women’s Center’s how to be an ally
Dresher Center for the Humanities’ list of Baltimore and national organizations to follow
We Believe You’s petitions and funds
No matter what your self-care practice looks like, don’t forget to incorporate it into your daily life as you continue to fight for social justice.