Millions of Americans are waking up today with strong emotions as the upcoming Presidential inauguration will shortly welcome in a new administration. Some are celebrating, while others are wrestling with grief. Regardless of partisanship, this last year has been incredibly difficult for many. This is especially true for people of color who have had to continue to navigate the tumultuous state of race relations in the United States along with the devastating effects of the ongoing pandemic that have disproportionately impacted marginalized communities.
The intersection between the election and issues related to racial bias and discrimination were more pronounced this election season, making today’s inauguration both political and highly personal. And rumors of planned attacks by Trump supporters and the recent arrest of a man on Saturday who attempted to pass a security checkpoint with non-government credentials, a loaded gun, and more than 500 rounds of ammunition to attend today’s inauguration only add insult to injury. Whether today you are on cloud nine, approaching the future with a healthy dose of skepticism, or still processing the last four years and not sure what to think — here are six tips for people of color – and all others – to remain sane during the Inauguration Day and beyond.
Be Patient With Yourself
Today, if you are feeling overly anxious, remember to be patient with yourself. There are numerous reasons you might wrestle with anxiety today, but regardless of the cause, keep in mind that this an unprecedented time. The country has experienced heightened racial and political tensions that are almost reminiscent of Jim Crow South. As you navigate throughout your day, show yourself mercy, care, and patience.
Many Americans will have to report to work or school today. Along with religion, conversations about politics are typically considered a “no-no” in most places of business. Yet, discussions about politics still seem to creep up during quick water cooler conversations and over lunchroom debates. Don’t be shy to set boundaries and refrain from participating in political discussions that could make you feel uncomfortable. Politely excusing yourself from a politically charged conversation might mean the difference between a relatively peaceful day and the hairs standing at attention on the back of your neck after a heated exchange. Setting boundaries might also include limiting your time on social media and watching television over the next few days.
Channel Your Energy Into Constructive Distractions
If you feel especially triggered, anxious, or an overall feeling of discomfort — focus on channeling your energy into constructive distractions. If you have a hobby or a project that you have been delaying, this might be an opportune time to make some progress toward completion or fine-tuning your skills in a particular area. Alternatively, if you subscribe to a specific religious belief or spiritual practice, fully engaging in your belief system might help create a constructive distraction and assist in lowering your anxiety and feeling more centered.
MORE FOR YOU
Be Present Focused
If you find yourself wanting to find joy in the current moment but are distracted by the current socio-political and socio-racial climate, you are not alone. That said, you might consider attempting to remain present-centered. When I see clients who battle with anxiety, I encourage them to stay in the “here and now” by focusing on what is happening in the current moment and resisting the urge to think about what might happen the following week, day, or even the next minute. If you are excited about or pleased with the election’s outcome — today — try to savor each minute as it comes and allow tomorrow to handle itself.
While some might experience greater feelings of anxiety, stress, and worry when discussing or reading about the country’s political climate, others might experience the opposite. If you find that you tend to find comfort in being informed on current political issues and events, today might be a great day to do a little research on the incoming administration’s cabinet and policies and how they might impact you. For example — if, like millions of other Americans — you are still reeling from the pandemic’s financial blow, it might be useful to become more familiar with Biden’s 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan. Or, if you are especially interested in immigration, you might want to consider familiarizing yourself with Biden’s plans to reverse Trump’s immigration policies. Likewise, if you are currently up to your eyebrows in student loan debt, it might be advantageous for you to research the incoming administration’s plans to address student loan debt.
Spend Time In Safe Spaces
In short – today and beyond – when possible, try to spend time in spaces where you feel safe and with people who help you feel safe. Entertain conversations that promote growth and engage with people, events, and activities that allow you to feel valued and appreciated.