Between a surge of hate crimes across the country, and countless heartbreaking stories of sexual assault, it’s fair to say that we’ve been through a lot these past few months. And while it’s essential to stay informed, your personal health and well-being is important too — that’s where self-care comes in.
We asked the Look Different Good Look Panel to impart a few tips for taking care of yourself when you need it the most.
- “Connect with friends. Studies show that social support is one of the most effective methods to cope with stress. Connect with people who reaffirm and supports your beliefs, to combat feelings of alienation and isolation. Choose your battles wisely.
Remember that you do not have to address every single microaggression you encounter. Before jumping in, ask yourself: “will this person actually hear me?” And: “do I care enough about this person to invest time and energy?” If your answer to either of these questions is “no”, then consider letting it go. Always put your mental health first.” — Kyle Casey Chu, Queer Chinese American musician and media activist
2. “Create. For me personally, one of the best self-care gifts is inviting people of color to create. Be it writing, visual art, dancing or acting. Communities of color are often the first communities to lose access to art education in schools.
I have always fought to ensure that there is space for people of color to create. I know that for me that sometimes just means going to dance class to express how myself through movement.
On a more general level I think one of the most important things you can do is build community. In this generation, that community could even be a group chat you start with other POC. The group serves a safe space for you to honestly express any fear, anxiety you might have while also allowing you to celebrate with your community when great things happen. I have a number of group chats on my phone that are honestly just safe havens for me.” — Daniel Leon-Davis, Senior Creative Director of SOZE
3. “Don’t sacrifice the things that bring you joy. Transitioning from a majority African American upbringing, to a predominantly white college and post-collegiate experience has been challenging for me. Initially, I felt as though I had to behave in a reserved or whitewashed manner to fit in and be successful. While I still think that is true in many instances, I have realized that there are some smaller battles that we don’t always have to fight. We should not sacrifice the little things that make us the most happy or comfortable for the sustenance of white comfort.
If you enjoy things that have been listed as stereotypical for someone from your culture, indulge in those things — don’t worry about what others will think. Be you and have your moment of happiness. You can prove that you are complex and multifaceted through your larger, more meaningful actions. Eventually your peers will grow to realize that hip hop or fried chicken (everybody loves fried chicken) doesn’t define you.
In moments of intense racial isolation, I often reach out to my closest African American friends and engage in conversations or activities that remind me of how special my culture is. Having those small moments of reconnection with people who identify similarly as you can be extremely empowering and rejuvenating. They are the moments that I find myself looking back on and cherishing the most in life. Keep your friends close and support each other!”— Martese Johnson, strategist, speaker, and advocate
4. “Stay weird, stay joyful! Listen to the music that makes you happy and twerk in the mirror. Continue to download the anime that your mother thinks is a waste of bandwidth. Love who you want. Like who you want. Ask questions and send sassy memes and keep walking, wherever the road takes you.
In a system that is supposed to control and confine you, your individuality is an everyday act of protest. Wear what you want and laugh as loud as you can. It’s a testament to the idea that each person is different, and racism relies on an idea that we’re all the same. Every time you assert your individuality, you take a piece out of that idea. You give yourself the gift of whatever makes you happy, and you remind people that you are irreverently you, and that their labels don’t apply.” — Jasmine Reign, electro-jazz musician, advocate, trainer and activist
5. “Unplug. Sometimes taking a break from everyone and everything and really focusing on yourself can be so gratifying. Do something that makes you feel calm like drawing, reading a book, or listening to music.
Take initiative and learn more about your history. Often textbooks only teach white/cisgender/straight history and perspectives, so doing your own research allows you to learn more about your people.It can feel isolating to grow up as a minority and it can be grounding to know more about your legacy.” — Alok Vaid-Menon, trans South Asian writer, performance artist, and community organizer