The protests, unrest, outrage and fear have been impossible to ignore, and they come amid a pandemic that had already turned life upside down for many.
If you’re feeling hopeless, you’re not alone. CNN asked some experts for ways to get through it.
1. Acknowledge your feelings and put a label on them
Some people may feel like they don’t have a right to feel the way they do because others are going through more than them, but it’s still important to put a label on that, said Bonior.
“Acknowledging that we’re sad, acknowledging that we’re feeling somewhat demoralized, acknowledging that we’re scared, that actually helps us gain control and it illuminates the path forward.”
2. Connect with others
“It’s really crucial that we don’t use this time to alienate ourselves,” said Bonior, addressing the isolating effects that the coronavirus has had on many people.
“We’re already coming from a baseline of loneliness where we’re all feeling a little disconnected. The research is very clear that increased social support has all kinds of positive benefits for mental health and for our emotional well-being,” she added.
Not everybody feels like they have a safe space to share their feelings, Breland-Noble pointed out. Some people’s connections or sense of community may be online, on social media platforms. If that is how you connect, it’s important to “put on your sensitivity filter,” she said.
Everybody is experiencing this in different ways, so be mindful of that and try not to post “content that is going to trigger or hurt somebody else.”
If you don’t feel you can share your feelings with people in a helpful or meaningful way, write them down.
“Journaling or keeping a diary can be very cathartic,” Bonior said. “It’s not even just about keeping a record. It’s about the process of getting those thoughts and feelings down on paper. That process itself is invaluable.”
3. Get involved
“People feel hopeless because they don’t know what to do, and they feel like the little thing they’re doing is not enough,” Breland-Noble said.
She notes that “whatever that little thing is that you’re doing, that’s all you can do for now.”
“Nobody’s asking you to go out here and fix all of this, you can’t cure coronavirus, you can’t bring Floyd back, but what you can do is start with what you have and the resources that you have.”
For some people this may mean protesting and for others staying at home. There are many different ways you can help seek solutions. It may start with educating yourself on the history of racism in the US or writing to your local authorities or just putting up a sign outside your house.
4. Be kind to yourself
It’s important to practice self-care to help you get centered.
For some people that may be a walk in nature, for others meditation or yoga.
“Try to work within your bandwidth, using things that are accessible,” Breland-Noble said. “If you’re going to meditate, and it’s like eight people in a two-bedroom home, maybe you have to literally go into the bathroom and sit there for five minutes with your headphones on,” she said.
Some people may feel guilty doing that or feel like it’s selfish with so much going on, Bonior said, but it’s important to do. “When you take those moments to take care of yourself, you actually have more energy for the world at large,” she said.
Self-care can also means not doing certain things, like switching off from your social media feeds for example.
The point is to do something that makes you happy. It can be as small as treating yourself to a candy bar, listening to happy music, watching your favorite film or having a bath, but taking some time out of the day to do something that brings you joy. It’s not going to make the world OK, but it can help you feel just a little better or less bad, as the case may be.
5. Acknowledge the good
“Oftentimes in the darkest of times, we’re only seeing the anger, we’re only seeing the chaos,” Bonior said. “We’re tuning out the smaller aspects of kindness, the smaller aspects of people helping each other.”
She pointed out some of the kinder acts of love we’re seeing at the protests, like people standing up and protecting others or volunteers handing out water to protesters.
Looking for these moments in our own lives or communities can help bring back some hope.
Making a list of all the things you’re grateful for despite all the terrible things that are happening around you is another idea that may help. This shifts your focus from the negative and helps remind you of some of the positive things in your life.