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You Asked It: Self-Care after Charlottesville

I’m black, and I’ve been having a hard time dealing with all the white supremacists in the news.  Now after Charlottesville, I feel so angry, but I’m also exhausted. I just don’t know how to handle everything I’m feeling. What can I do?

We are so sorry that you have to deal with this racism and hatred. What happened in Charlottesville was heartbreaking and maddening, and you are far from the only person experiencing intense emotions in its aftermath.

We hope you already know that your emotions are a completely normal reaction to the extreme events you’re seeing in the news. You have absolutely no reason to feel ashamed or guilty about them. It sounds like you’re already paying attention to what you’re feeling and why, and that’s great. You should feel proud of yourself for taking important steps to take care of yourself. Give yourself permission to really feel your emotions, and notice how they may be impacting your body.

If you haven’t already, talk to someone you trust. This can help you process what you’re thinking and feeling. Plus, social support is a critical part of taking care of yourself. You’ll most likely find that many of the people around you feel similarly. Remember: you are not alone.

It makes complete sense that you’re exhausted. Handling these intense emotions over a long period of time takes a lot out of a person. You may also feel unsafe, which adds more stress. Take a break from the news (which may include social media), and concentrate on doing things that make you feel good. Practice self-care. That can be anything from going on a hike to painting your nails to dancing. Self-care also means doing the everyday things that keep you healthy: eating nutritious food, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep.

It’s important to express your anger in a safe and appropriate way. Different people have different ways of handling their anger, and you may already have a favorite method. Consider going for a run, screaming into a pillow, or punching your mattress or other soft surface. We talk more about safe and healthy ways to deal with anger here.

You should also express any sadness or grief you may be feeling. Cry, journal, paint, play music, or do something else that lets you express yourself. Again, these are completely normal reactions to recent events, and there is no reason to feel shame about them.

It may also help to take action. You could help marginalized groups affected by systems of discrimination, or fight against white supremacy. This could mean volunteering in your community, going to a protest, educating yourself about the history of white supremacy and racism, or something else entirely. Remember to keep checking in with yourself, though. These activities may make you feel more drained and stressed. Keep practicing self-care, and take breaks (or stop) these activities if you feel the need. If you feel like you should be taking action but feel emotionally drained, remember that you can’t help others until you help yourself.

Remember: You are loved. You are enough. You are not alone.

ABOUT YOU ASKED IT

You’ve got questions.  We’ve got answers. At the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, we answer a lot of questions. Topics range from nutrition to pregnancy prevention, and everything in between. Now, we’re bringing these questions back to you with our weekly advice column, You Asked It. Got a question? Holler at us in the comments, send us a message on FacebookTwitter or Instagram, or email us at teenhealthcareorg@gmail.com.

This column is not intended to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual, only general information for education purposes only.

Missed a “You Asked It” post? Click on “You Asked it” under Topics.

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