• Brettney Douglas-Al Hindi

A Black Woman's Survival Guide On Coping During Quarantine and A Brutal Election Season

As if this year was not the plot twist we all weren't expecting, now we have to elect the next President of the United States?!

"I don't think America should elect any president in 2020. We need to be single for a few years and find ourselves."

No, but seriously, something has got to change. Between surviving a global pandemic, fighting white supremacy, global warming, and a frightening election; we are in crisis.

Being Black in America is already exhausting; add being a woman on top of that, and we're just straight-up depleted.

Time and time again we're hit with the harsh reality that no one's gonna save us and that in order for us to get out of this hell hole, we've got to stick together and strategize on how we're not just gonna survive, but thrive. It's time for us to get on the right side of history, and do the work that the people before us were unable to complete; that means organizing, using our voices, standing up for our rights to demand change, and of course, voting. I know with the panic, fear, and the never-ending roller coaster of emotions that we are experiencing daily, it feels like we're fighting an uphill battle.

With so many things coming up against us, how do we cope and thrive during what feels like an evil, dark, psychological thriller?

This is my take on a survival guide of some sort for combatting the impending stress that so many of us will be feeling in just a few days before and after the election:

1. Take a Mental Health Day

Sis, quit trying to be superwoman and use your PTO. Whether you are physically back in the office or working from home, you deserve a break, even if you all you do is stay in and order some Uber Eats, as you catch some re-runs of Girlfriends on Netflix. We already have enough on our plate, but with what's to come, we're gonna need to preserve some of that strength and energy for the days/weeks/months ahead. With everything going on, it's expected that there will be a whirlwind of emotions leading up to the election and thereafter. There's an overload of information, most of which can be triggering and downright stress-inducing, so you should take a much-needed reprieve to get your mind right.

2. Go outdoors (practicing social distancing, and wearing masks of course)

This is the perfect time to pull out that new Nike fit you've been waiting to wear and go on a socially distanced bike ride with that cute guy that you've been meaning to catch up with or do some journaling at the park. The state of the world and the unforeseen circumstances can make us feel disjointed and out-of-touch, spending a few minutes in nature can help you to get grounded and centered, not to mention help boost your immune system. With flu season and the recent spikes in Covid cases, we must do our best to keep our defenses up, and getting some fresh air will definitely do the trick. There's something so refreshing about being outside and feeling the cool breeze on your skin, honoring that beautiful melanin that can't be bought. Besides getting that natural vitamin D, being outdoors can help reduce stress and improve mental health.

3. Spend time with good people

I know that our options for socializing these days are limited but don't let that stop you from getting some face time with the people you love and care about, even if it's virtual. Studies show that having social support can lower stress levels, improve mood, and have an overall positive impact on your health and wellness. There's nothing better than catching up with an old friend or relative who can uplift your spirit, give you an encouraging word, and/or a laugh to get through a rough moment, especially these days.

4. Have a glass of wine or a cocktail

Who doesn't like a nice alcoholic beverage after a hard day?! If you're feeling lonely, call up your bestie and have a virtual girl's night in. I don't drink that often, but when I do, I love white wine, preferably something a little sweet like Moscato D'asti, Reisling, or Sauvignon Blanc. The McBride Sisters have some really good wine, and did I mentioned it's black-owned? It feels good to let loose, and let your hair down every now and then; it's like a mental escape from all the madness. Whatever your liquid refreshment of choice is, do it in moderation, and drink responsibly!

5. Do things that bring you joy

Keeping our vibrations high by cultivating joy is necessary for our survival during these difficult times. We make time for everything else, and everyone else; why not prioritize joy? Our Founder of OMNoire, Christina hosted an amazing masterclass for Breathe with Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Ayanna Abrams a few weeks back on "preparing for a new season." It was an incredible conversation on how to live a happier and healthier lifestyle as we shift from Fall/Winter and the importance of creating what Dr. Abrams calls a "joy regimen." This season calls for us to be intentional about seeking healthy distractions, and engaging in activities that will leave long-lasting memories as we transition from what's going to be another "mental and emotional shakeup." For me, my joy regimen consists of waking up every day with gratitude and setting my intentions for the day. After that, I dance in my kitchen while I'm cooking a meal for my family, and we spend some quality time together before carrying on with the demands of the day. I also try to incorporate other types of movement in my day whether it is yoga, taking a walk, or exercising in my living room. I try to find joy in the simplest and smallest of things, while also keeping my mind and heart open to experience something new. During quarantine, I also found myself jumping on the wave and becoming a plant mommy, and to my surprise, it's going a lot better than I thought! Some have even taken this time to tap into their creative side, picked up a new hobby/side hustle, redecorate their homes, and/ or reconnect with a past love. The possibilities are endless. Whatever your thing is, do that, and be as consistent as you can, it will certainly make a difference and fill your joy tank.

6. Be still

"What a time to be aligned." With so much happening around us that is out of our control, it's easy to react to the chaos by resorting to fear or panic, but that solves nothing other than getting us more aggravated and riled up. For many of us, especially people of color, our fight or flight responses are at an all-time high so we must be intentional about where we are dispersing our energy. We must make rest and stillness a priority so that we can act from a place of wisdom, rather than our emotions. The goal isn't to try to control the storm, it is to control the way that you respond to it, and the only way to do that is to calm ourselves. When we practice mindfulness, we are creating a safe space for ourselves to breathe and think with clarity so that we can connect with ourselves and our higher power soberly, in order to seek guidance and direction. Preserving our mental health is key because it helps us to regulate our parasympathetic nervous system in times of distress and back to a place of peace and safety, and helps us to stay in the present moment.

7. Let go and let flow: Recognize, Respond, Reset

Let's face it, we're human, therefore we are emotional creatures. Right now, collectively, we are all feeling something. We owe it to ourselves to be as compassionate and nonjudgmental to ourselves as we are with our homegirls. As women, we hold a lot of our emotions in our bodies, and if we're not careful, it could become toxic to us and manifest in physical symptoms and dis-ease. I get it, you're fed up, and I am too, but the energy of our emotions are meant to move through and out of our bodies and released, not permanently housed within us. Have you checked in with yourself lately and asked yourself how you're really doing, instead of shouldering it or pretending that everything is okay? You deserve to be seen, heard, and to take up space with fear of judgment. Give yourself permission to release your pain so that you can process it. You have the freedom to let it out in any form that you choose whether you: write it out, cry, scream, dance/exercise, paint/draw/color, do some gardening, reach out to a mental health professional, listen to music, or just simply breathe. By giving yourself a safe space to release your emotions, you are owning your truth, and therefore actively doing the inner work towards healing. Once you've done that, practice radical self-care by indulging in healthy habits that realign your mind, body, and spirit back to a place of peace and power.

Remember how resilient you are.

Remember all the times that you didn't think you would make it, and look at you now, you survived.

You did it, you overcame, and this time will be no different.

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