Tender Loving Care
Reading and being exposed to the information on this site can be overwhelming or triggering. It’s important to care for yourself when you’re processing information like this or in any other times of distress. Here are some ideas.
Make connection a priority. We know it’s hard right now and people are feeling more disconnected and socially isolated than ever. Whether it's through hanging out with friends, class discussions, homework sessions, therapy or coaching sessions – it is imperative that we continue to connect with each other. Use the resources listed here on top of whatever makes most sense for you and your relationships.
There is a lot of painful, violent, and overwhelming information to take in regarding hate in this world- including on this site. While this is an awful reality that we live in, t is important to counterbalance the heavy with the hope. There are a ton of stories of people sacrificing, donating, and supporting one another in miraculous ways. Make an intentional effort to notice the good in the world; research tells us that watching others be kind and doing kind acts can increase our well-being.
Reach out for help. If you are having difficulty coping, seek out help from mental health professionals. There are people ready and waiting to help you through this crisis.
Acknowledge your fears, feelings, or trauma – it’s okay to not be okay. Offer yourself some space and compassion right now. Whatever you’re feeling is valid. Give yourself time to process your emotions in response to the content on this page.
Accept where you are right now. Notice what feelings are arising, and take care of yourself accordingly. This could mean taking some time away from reading the news, setting boundaries with social media, setting up a daily mental and physical health routine, reaching out to old and new sources of support, and investing in multiple dimensions of wellness. While there is much outside of our hands, there are still steps we can take to feel empowered and regain a sense of agency.
Acknowledge the constant demands of productivity and perfection in the systems you’re a part of, including Stanford. Reflect on your external and internal productivity expectations and see where you can make space for yourself or challenge these expectations. Within multiple systems that perpetuate perfectionism, self-hatred, self-judgment, and exclusion- cultivate a practice radical self-love. Accept yourself and your reactions to what you have read without question, blame, or minimizing. Your reactions are real and they make sense.
Trauma--whether from events you have experienced directly or from what you have witnessed, read about, or inherited from your own family and ancestors--often creates a sense of powerlessness. See where you might be able to gain a sense of empowerment, even if it’s something small. Create a new routine of caring for yourself. Read books that aren’t assigned in class. Work on a project that is for no one but yourself. Create a biological/chosen family tree. Interview your elders or research your communities. Get into a mode of physical activity that makes you feel connected to your body.
While difficult to escape in higher education and greater capitalist society, question the constant demand to be productive. Take opportunities to not be “productive” and instead focus on cultivating your emotional intelligence, sense of joy, body awareness, and overall well-being. What you need is unique, so practice the kinds of self-care that are most important for you.
Help others. Find ways, big and small, to give back to others. Support whatever your community needs that is safe for you to provide. Helping others gives us a sense of agency when things seem out of control. When the ways we can help are limited, acknowledging the positive work of others is a win-win.
Find the lesson or meaning. The magnitude of hate in our world can seem senseless and overwhelming. How can each of us begin to process and make meaning of it? What needs to change in ourselves, our homes, our communities, our nation, and our world? You can hold and make space to honor the real human suffering happening in our world, and simultaneously practice hopeful visioning for the future.
Connect to all types of healing available to you, whether it be prayer, rituals, community, and shared space. Remember that you are not alone, that not only, “The very definition of being “human” means that one is mortal, vulnerable and imperfect”. Indeed, many of the ways in which we heal as individuals is tied to how we heal as communities. This could look like sharing stories of harm, resistance, and transformation with others in grief gatherings or talk circles. This could look like spending time within Stanford community centers and learning about the history of your community, oppression, and social change on Stanford’s campus. This could also look like advocating for and implementing structures that promote justice, humanity, and healing above discipline, punishment, and isolation.
Find your own retreat space. We all need time and space away from exposure to violence and trauma. While it’s important to educate yourself and be aware of history and news, consider taking breaks where you are limiting your own exposure to the greatest extent possible.
Make time for your own sense of calm daily. Repetitive movement (knitting, coloring, painting, clay sculpting, jump roping, etc.) especially left-right movement (running, drumming, skating, hopping) can be effective self-soothing techniques for everyone feeling anxious. Seeking and creating comfort is essential to help reduce anxiety and the impact of trauma.
Build a self-care menu. Self-care looks different for everyone. Effective self-care includes preventive/planned strategies and reactive/responsive strategies. Preventive strategies build your capacity to handle challenges in your life, while reactive strategies actively restore your capacity following a recent stressor. For example, planning to sleep eight hours every night is preventive, while sleeping 12 hours after a really stressful day would be reactive. There's no magic formula to build the perfect self-care menu, just make sure that you have both preventive and reactive strategies that work for you. Build your own self-care menu here.
Find lightness and humor each day. There is a lot to be upset about, and with good reason. Counterbalance this heaviness with something funny each day: cat videos on YouTube, goofy memes, a funny movie. We all need a little comedic relief in our day, every day.
Seek news from reliable sources — and in moderation. Feeling upset is a normal (and even adaptive) response to the reality of our world, but overconsuming negative news can heighten this upset to levels that no longer serve us and can create vicarious trauma. Try not to become too absorbed in the coverage for long periods of time, and find opportunities to disconnect from the constant barrage. Set limits for yourself, e.g. checking news only 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at night, and check-in with yourself so you know when to make adjustments to your news consumption plan.
(Tips for self-care/community care adapted from the virtual Well-Being site)
Here are a few campus resources to aid individuals and groups in this process:
Restorative justice offers a conflict-resolution method that emphasizes repairing harm done to members of the community rather than concentrating on blame and punishment. The parties involved in the incident collaborate to create a resolution that fulfills their needs, discourages future misconduct, and restores the community’s trust in the responsible party. Trained facilitators guide the process.
Student Affairs offers communities support and is continually seeking ways in which we can provide resources to those who may need it, whether on or off campus. This hub has been created as a way to share and connect individuals to a variety of services, guidance, and more. Take time to take care of yourself and share what you are going through with others. You do not have to experience anything on your personal journey on your own.
We know that you will experience new and unexpected challenges during your time at Stanford. Here you can find a list of mental health resources to help you navigate these times.
LINKS is a series of workshops facilitated by The Office for Inclusion, Belonging, and Intergroup Communication. These sessions utilize experiential activities, educational frameworks, and intergroup dialogue to facilitate learning opportunities for students who are interested in engaging in conversations around identity, diversity, equity, and justice. Undergraduate and graduate students are welcome.