Reminders and affirmations to help you through quarantine
Some days will be harder than others. Let the hard days happen and appreciate the easier ones.
We are in the midst of a global disaster and it’s taking its toll on everyone in a multitude of ways. While it’s true that Black people have weathered the storms of global anti-Blackness, incremental genocide, and continued discrimination, we are not unaffected by the current crisis. It’s true that “back to normal” for us means going back to a world where these things continue to exist, but it is also true that the pandemic has undeniably impacted us. Everything feels amplified now for a lot of us, and that needs to be acknowledged.
I wish I could give you definitive, surefire advice and methods to best cope with this situation and its effects, but I can’t. What I can offer you, however, are necessary reminders and affirmations that might make getting through this difficult time marginally easier. I hope these can be of some help to you.
RELATED: Now is an opportunity for Black folks to reimagine what constitutes loss
- We are experiencing a collective loss—of normalcy, of a sense of connection, of employment, of certain securities, of routines, and even of loved ones. Because of this, it is a time of uncertainty. Do not allow the “positive vibes only” rhetoric to gaslight you into trying to force a happy face or a positive attitude. It is always healthy to acknowledge when situations are shitty and to acknowledge our frustration, anger, and grief. You are allowed to be sad about this, and don’t let anyone tell you that you should swallow your feelings or ignore your mental health in the name of toxic positivity.
- This is also an experience of collective trauma and grief. Allow yourself to grieve, to mourn what has been lost and what could or would have been had this not happened. Cry if you feel the need. It’s a release of tension and you deserve to have that release. I recommend also looking into mental health apps and virtual therapy options.
- You may feel lethargic, unmotivated, hypervigilant, numb, angry, or a host of other uncomfortable ways during this time. You might experience more Executive Dysfunction than usual—or for the first time in your life—which can include difficulties like the inability to focus or concentrate on a task, forgetfulness, and chronic procrastination. This is a normal, common response to depression, stress, and sleep deprivation. People with traumatic brain injuries, OCD, ADHD, drug addictions, autism, PTSD, and certain learning disabilities may experience these things more than neurotypical folks.
- Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are common responses to trauma. They are different things, but both can present with shortness of breath, sweatiness, chest pains, nausea, bodily weakness, and more. If you feel one coming on, you can take steps to try and alleviate it, including deep breathing, smelling lavender, repeating a calming mantra, and focusing on objects to ground you.
- I know it feels like everything is out of your control, like there’s nothing you can do to help this along. But remember that you are doing something by staying at home (if that is something you are able to do during this time) and helping to flatten the curve. What you are doing is socially responsible and necessary in order for us to get to through this.
- As any survivor or anyone who has had significant loss in their life can attest, some days will be harder than others. Let the hard days happen and appreciate the easier ones.
- Please, take a break from the news. In times of crisis, media platforms will often take advantage of the public’s anxiety and bombard us with information in order to gain panic-reads and sustain high viewership ratings. Try your best not to get sucked in. And when you do seek out news updates, rely on trusted sources.
- The narcissists and attention seekers on social media will also take advantage of this time by using similar tactics as media outlets to get as many reactions and shares as possible to fuel their egos. Curate your timelines now more than ever. Use snooze, unfollow, mute, hide, unfriend, and block features to make your social media experience as tranquil as possible for yourself. That includes family and friends. Your social media is always your space and should make you feel joy for the most part, not overwhelming panic and worry.
- Your boundaries still matter. You may have more time on your hands while quarantining, but that does not mean that you magically have heightened capacity for interacting with others. In fact, it’s more likely quite the opposite these days. You don’t owe people access, attention, or time any more now than you did prior to this. It’s okay to preserve your energy by turning off notifications and only reaching out or responding when you are in the appropriate headspace to do so.
- Along the same lines, do not expect or demand an immediate response or sustained engagement from others during this time. Everyone is struggling. It is important to stay connected, but it is also important to acknowledge that socializing is an activity that takes energy—whether done virtually or otherwise. Remember that others are also feeling the same emotional, physical, and spiritual exhaustion you are.
- When you do have the energy to socialize, engage with people who don’t drain you. We all know those emotional vampires who are nearly-always exhausting to interact with. Limit your exposure to them as much as you can.
- If you are quarantining with other people, it’s okay to retreat. Cocoon yourself somewhere, steal away moments of solitude to refresh and recharge when you need to.
- Focus on whatever and whoever makes you feel safe. Cherish them.
- Identify one thing that you look forward to every day, no matter how small it may be.
- Do more of what makes you feel confident.
- Productivity does not have to be a priority. You do not have to use this time to learn a new skill or conjure up a new side hustle or craft a business plan. The propaganda of capitalism has convinced so many of us that our “success” is tied to monetization or commodification and that our worth is tied to our productivity. Do not allow the “rise and grind” rhetoric to shame you into participating in a culture that values money over your health and immediate needs. Things like Spring Cleaning, organizing, and yard work can also be deprioritized. You are not failing and you are not being lazy for taking this time to rest both your body and your mind.
- That being said—it’s a good time to throw yourself into a creative hobby if you have the desire to do so. Getting creative can occupy your attention and your time for hours. It’s also calming and therapeutic. Remember that you do not have to be “good” at a thing in order to enjoy it and its benefits.
RELATED: COVID-19 or not, Black folks are building virtual spaces of joy, intimacy and tenderness
- Stay hydrated and remember to eat, but do not be hard on yourself if your routines around these things change or if it takes a while to find balance. Emotional eating might happen, but it is not the end of the world, nor is it a mark of your character. Allow yourself time, space, and grace, and try not to be too hard on yourself about it. However, if you feel that your eating patterns are drifting into dangerous territory, there is an Eating Disorder holtine and disordered eating self-help resources you can utilize.
- Change in sex drive is normal during a stressful time. You may find yourself masturbating more or less frequently than you usually do. Likewise, if you are quarantining with a partner with whom you are sexually active, the frequency of your sexual activity may decrease or increase. Make sure you are communicating with them about your feelings and your needs, as you always should.
- Your sleep pattern is likely to change as well. Sleep might come to you more or less often than it used to. This is also a normal response to trauma and grief. If you are experiencing insomnia, melatonin and lavender are reliable remedies.
- Meditation and rest are important. Prioritize them, and engage with them in ways that bring you the most joy, tranquility, and confidence. I recommend following The Nap Ministry and Rest for Resistance for more affirmations regarding rest, stillness, and meditation.
- Movement is important, but do not feel pressure to move your body or exercise in ways that do not feel comfortable, good, and affirming.
- You do not have to earn your rest.
- You do not have to earn your food.
- Do not fall into the traps of the diet industry and toxic fitness culture. Diets don’t work and the weight loss industry is a capitalist scam. Depriving your body of nourishment, especially during this time, is detrimental to your health. Be vigilant and aware, as we are bombarded with fatphobic and ableist talking points about how we should take this time to “work on our bodies.” Do not use disordered eating and over-exercising as unhealthy coping mechanisms, especially not in response to societal pressures to maintain a certain type of body. Our bodies will change over the course of our lives. That is an inevitability, but especially when our routines change and especially when our mental health is significantly impacted.
- You have nothing to prove, and anyone who comments on your body’s changes can fuck all the way off.
- Do what you can to take care of yourself and the folks around you.
- Be gentle with yourself and with others.
- This is temporary. Remember that. Remind yourself as often as you need to. We may not know yet when it will end, but it will. Eventually. And it’s okay if you come out on the other side having focused only on surviving.