Six self-care essentials for the revolution

Dr. Asha Fields Brewer

History has shifted twice in a matter of months. First, we are learning what “new normal” is as we monitor the impact of a global pandemic. Second, we are creating a new normal as justice rises to the forefront of conversations, policies, news, and city streets. We are witnessing a global and societal revolution. 

Ahead of their revolution—which was an exodus from the enslavement in Egypt—God specifically instructed the Israelites on what to eat, how to dress, what work could and could not be done, when to come, when to go, and how to protect their households. From this outline in Exodus Chapter 12, we gather that there are some things we must do to properly care for and preserve ourselves during the revolution. 

1. Physical care-movement is therapy. 

We cannot underestimate the power of endorphins and blood flow to regulate stress, anxiety, and burnout. Additionally, Vitamin D, which we can get for free from the sun,  aids in regulating mood and depression. Move your body in different ways, stretching, dancing, running, walking, biking, playing—just move. Give your physical body the care it needs to in turn take care of you. 

2. Spiritual care-intercede for others. 

Earlier this month, I was on a call with professional colleagues and college students who I have met over the past 12 years since graduating from college myself. It was both moving and inspiring to discuss race relations and race issues in the context of our individual and collective experiences. Of monumental importance, I particularly found peace in the opportunity to pray with and for leaders in our community. 

Intercede specifically and intentionally for the organizers in your area, the organizers in your state, and the organizers in our nation. They need the perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3), wisdom (James 1:5), and strength (Isaiah 41:10) that the Lord so willingly provides. Sometimes, folks are so consumed with fighting for others, that they forget to fight for themselves. That is where we step in to cover them with prayer. 

3. Mental and emotional care-soak in the silence. 

With constant access to news reports, live broadcasts, social media, and the comments section of social media, we take in a lot. We must intentionally turn down the volume for a set time every day, so we can stop consuming and start digesting. Use this time to meditate, write, read, color, or even sit in silence. Take time to rest your mind, so you can feed your soul. 

4. Intellectual care-record your own history. 

Accurately recording your history is self-care. For People of Color, our ancestors passed down historical and cultural lessons through song, storytelling, dance, and more. But the commercial history books do not chronicle our stories the way our ancestors would have, if at all. So, start recording your history today. 

Keep a journal of current events in the world, in your county, and in your community.  You can go the traditional route with blank pages and a pen. You can chronicle digitally by emailing yourself or creating a public or private blog. You can even capture visual or audio records as well. If you need a place to start your narrative, start with these two phrases: “Today’s date is… What’s happening today is…” Become your own historian and the voice of your own narrative. Encourage your entire family to get involved. When we are not here to speak the words of history, what we have left behind will speak on our behalf. 

5. Social care-debrief the debrief.

The atmosphere is ripe for conversations. 400 years’ worth of debriefing is unfolding before our very eyes. While it is beneficial to engage in healthy conversations with our non-Black brothers and sisters who are wanting to dialogue about our insight, our point of view, and our lived experience—once we debrief them, we must then debrief ourselves. Unpacking the grief, anger, fear, disappointment, and trauma that is wound into our DNA as we have these conversations with our counterparts takes a toll on the heart and mind.  

We must seek safe spaces and be the safe spaces where the release valve can be unhinged. In these spaces, we have room to be our most authentic, and transparent selves. Otherwise, unaddressed thoughts and emotions become a breeding ground for exhaustion, burnout, depression, rage, and more. Yes, friends and family are great. Have reflective conversations with them. Additionally, we all should have the name and number of a therapist locked into our phones. You can visit the website for the Association of Black Psychologists at www.abpsi.org to find a therapist in your area. You can also dial 2-1-1 to learn about free mental health resources in your community.

6. Career and financial care-drive the change in your lane.

We can become overwhelmed by others or pressure ourselves into thinking we have to be all things in all areas of the revolution. However, Dr. Dawnette Banks, an educational policy consultant, shared with me in her succinct wisdom, “There are many frontlines.” Just like there are many parts, but one body (1 Corinthians 12:14-27), there are a variety of ways you can invest your time, talent, and treasury into underwriting the revolution. 

Whether you sew, sing, write, start conversations, educate, act, read, counsel, or whatever you do, there is a place for you. If you are called to march, march. If you are called to cook, prepare meals for neighbors who are spending their nights organizing and their days at peaceful protests. If you are a caregiver, babysit while an attorney heads to court to fight for the rights of the silenced. If you are an artist, donate proceeds to a youth mentoring program or get involved in the program yourself. Whatever your age, whatever your gender, whatever you are talented in, whatever you are called to do—there is a role for you in the revolution. 

The Israelites spent over 400 years in Egypt before they saw a glimpse of the revolution (Exodus 12:40). Leading up to their exodus, they witnessed the killing of their sons, shrewd and ruthless leadership, bitter and hard working conditions, and much, much more. God saw the importance of preparing them, restoring them, and protecting them as they entered the revolution. For our own sanity and sustainability, it is essential that we do the same.

Dr. Asha Fields Brewer is a Creator of Healthy Conversations. As a national speaker and published author, she teaches the busy & overwhelmed how to live life abundantly. She is the owner of the Temple Fit Co. wellness agency, which is home to 25+ wellness speakers and fitness instructors. Tune in to “Temple Fit Devotions with Dr. Asha” on Wednesdays at 4 pm on Hallelujah 95.3 FM.