by Aiden Nelson, 2022 Take Back the Night Intern
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde
Take Back the Night can be an emotional experience. From marching, to gathering together on the Commons, listening to the survivor speak outs, and possibly speaking ourselves, to seeing Clothesline Project shirts, participating in closing vigil, and then the time afterwards when everyone disperses and goes on to the rest of their nights: each moment can have an unexpected impact on us.
Caring for yourself throughout the evening is of the utmost importance.
During Take Back the Night and afterwards, there are people that can and want to help. Advocacy Center Advocates will be at the rally to support participants and answer questions – they will be wearing pink armbands and identified between speakers. Collective members will also pass out self-care cards with the Advocacy Center 24-Hour Hotline: 607-277-5000; the Suicide Crisis Hotline: 607-272-1616; and TBTN care suggestions.
If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed with emotions, memories, or concerns, try some grounding techniques. These will help you get out of your head and be more present in your body and the current moment.
- A classic grounding technique is looking at your surroundings and naming things. An exercise you can do is to name 5 things you can see, 4 you can touch, 3 you can hear, 2 you can smell, and 1 you can taste. Being as descriptive as possible with your observations is key. This will ground you in your current location.
- Another option is to look around your surroundings and go through the colors of the rainbow, starting with all the red things in the room you can see. As you go through the colors, be descriptive with your observations, taking note of the shade of the color as well as the object itself.
- Breathing exercises can be great as well. One option is to draw a square with your breath. Count to four, breathing in on the odd numbers and out on the evens, drawing a square in the air with your finger. As you do this, slow down the counting so you’re taking deeper breaths and exhaling for longer with each square.
- A different breathing exercise is to inhale for two counts, and exhale for four. As you exhale, purse your lips as if you are using a straw or whistling.
- Movement is a great way to help release emotions. Working out, going for a walk, dancing, or full body tapping can be incredibly helpful with regulation. Full body tapping involves counting as you tap yourself – be it on your wrist or leg or your shoulder.
Besides the grounding exercises mentioned above, there are many other ways to take care of yourself. Check in with yourself and understand what you need at that moment. Do you need to be grounded? A distraction? A release? Nourishment? Once you know what you need, you can work on giving it to yourself.
Spend time in a safe space with a loved one, watch something lighthearted, take a bath, make a meal from scratch… self-care looks different for everyone. Make sure you are taking care of yourself in whatever way works for you.
You are loved, and you deserve to feel safe and happy — before, during, and after Take Back the Night.
Additional self care and grounding suggestions
10 Breathing Exercises for Stress Relief healthline.com/health/breathing-exercise
30 Grounding Techniques to Quiet Distressing Thoughts healthline.com/health/grounding-techniques
5 Tips for Self Care in a Culture that Glorifies Stress everydayfeminism.com/2016/10/self-care-in-stress-culture/
5 Self Care Tips for Activists — ‘Cause Being Woke Shouldn’t Mean Your Spirit’s Broke everydayfeminism.com/2016/04/self-care-for-woke-folks/
101 ways to take care of yourself when the world feels overwhelming upworthy.com/101-self-care-suggestions-for-when-it-all-feels-like-too-much
Why acknowledging and celebrating the Black feminist origins of ‘self-care’ is essential mentalhealthtoday.co.uk/blog/awareness/why-acknowledging-and-celebrating-the-black-feminist-origins-of-self-care-is-essential
What Radical Self-Care Is & Why It’s So Essential For Black Women, excerpted from Self-Care for Black Women by Oludara Adeeyo mindbodygreen.com/articles/self-care-for-black-women-excerpt