Martha Tesema* says creating a list of ‘truths’ can help but a damper on spiralling anxiety.
The sky is blue. Water is wet. I woke up today.
These are things I’ve been repeating to myself as of late when things feel a bit out of control or I fall into a worry spiral.
Between the news on the television and traumatic videos of Black death circulating on social media, it doesn’t take much to get me stressed.
Stepping away from the online chatter and setting boundaries has helped, but another trick that’s helped lately when my imagination gets away from me and intensifies my anxiety is creating a list of truths.
I first learned of this idea after attending a healing session with other Black folks, hosted by the social and wellness community Ethel’s Club.
The digital event was in honor of the deaths of so many Black people over the past few months and was created as a space to grieve and come together.
During the session, psychologist and author of the mental-health-guidebook-meets-cookbook A Palate of Love Dr. Racine Henry spoke.
She shared about her own experiences with racial trauma—and different techniques we could use to help ourselves stay in the present moment and not get fatigued by the constant grief or anxieties of being Black in America.
The self-care technique that stuck with me was the idea of creating a list of truths
“Creating a list of truths gives you something a little more tangible and it shifts your focus on what you can’t control to what you have to hold on to,” Dr. Henry tells Shine.
“The idea behind the list of truths is that you don’t need everything to be OK for you to feel better—it’s all defined by ourselves and what our baselines look like.”
She explains that as long as these truths remain the same, you can have something to hold onto.
“It gives me a ground to stand on from which I can work through the rest of what is not right,” Henry says.
What does it look like in action?
That’s up to you.
I’ve chosen to mentally keep track of my truths—but for someone else, it might look like writing them down in a journal or talking about them out loud with someone close.
The best way to start, however, might just be asking yourself one question. Henry suggests asking: What are some things that you can say are real and true about your life right now?
They can be tangible—like a roof over your head or clothes on your back.
Or they can be things like a community that supports you.
Because of COVID-19 and so many global shifts, there are a lot of truths that have been shaken—but there are some universal ones you can hold onto if you’re feeling unsure of where to start.
Even just starting with I’m alive today can help you start a list of truths that serve as your grounding force.
A few more of the truths I’m carrying with me right now:
I have the ability to care for myself.
My health is in check.
I can use my breath to calm my nerves if I need to.
Creating them has helped me find a bit more control in my life—or at least a reminder of what I can and can’t control.
That reminder has helped alleviate stress—particularly as a Black woman.
For Black people who might be struggling even more due to racial trauma triggered in the past month, it can be especially beneficial.
“I think a list of truth helps you remember what’s really happening for you, not what white supremacy and racism want you to believe about yourself,” Henry says.
“[When it comes to] systemic racism and white supremacy, all these things are as simple as our neighbours smiling at us or not calling the police on us, or it’s not as simple as the police being nice to us, you know?” Henry says.
“It can feel defeating to look around and realize this thing was so deep and goes so far and is embedded in how we function as a society.”
“Sometimes that can feel like, Oh, this is never going to change. But we need to keep working towards these changes and we need to take care of ourselves and our families and still function,” she said.
“We still have to find joy in things. I think the truth list, especially now more than ever for Black people, can be a way that we recalibrate. I think it’s something that we can use whenever we feel like, ‘OK, this is too much.’”
Know that your list can be what you want it to be—and it also doesn’t have to look the same every time you craft it.
Its sole purpose is to provide a sense of comfort for you during hard times, and whenever you may need a moment to feel grounded.
*Martha Tesema is a Content Strategist at Shine based in Brooklyn, NY.
This article first appeared at advice.shinetext.com