While the news is often full of negative stories, the past couple of weeks have been particularly brutal. Between the US travel ban and the Mosque attack in Quebec City, it’s understandable that people in general, and Muslim people in particular, might be feeling additional stress and anxiety. So, how do we take care of ourselves and our communities during such tragic times, when violence and discrimination are so clearly on our minds? Here are some ideas:
- Be a good friend. Since Muslim Canadians were the target of violence in the Quebec City Mosque attack (a shooting our Prime Minister labelled a terrorist act), it’s important that non-muslims act as allies. It would be good to check in with your Muslim friends, classmates, and coworkers. Let them know that you’re thinking of them. Offer practical support and help. Let them know you stand for diversity and value the Muslim members of your community. Speak out against violence and discrimination.
- Take media breaks. Sometimes, in our efforts to remain informed, we become glued to news, radio, and social media updates. While it’s important to know what’s going on, taking breaks from media is key to maintaining our well-being. Select certain times of the day when you will be media free.
- Practice self-care. When times are hard it’s even more important to practice good habits like getting enough sleep, eating balanced meals regularly, and being active. Find a bit of time to do something to nurture yourself. It can be as simple as chatting with a friend, sipping a cup of tea, or playing your favorite game. Self-care may feel selfish when horrible things are happening, but we need to care for ourselves so that we can maintain our strength, stay well, and support others.
- Act in solidarity. When things happen that remind us of the bad or negative in the world,
we can act in ways that support peace and good. Attending a vigil or gathering of others who are grieving can be helpful. Donating money, time, or kind words to organizations that work for diversity and inclusion can help the minority group that has been targeted, while increasing our own feelings of well-being. Some organizations working to support Muslim Manitobans are Islamic Social Services Agency and Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council. At RRC, the Intercultural Mentorship Program offers students and staff opportunities to make friends, learn about other cultures, develop awareness of own cultural lens, strengthening the sense of community and creating a welcoming and inclusive campus.
- Limit ruminating thoughts. If you find thoughts about the tragedy circling through your mind, keeping you from sleeping or concentrating on other tasks, take a few moments to write your thoughts down and then put the piece of paper away. Alternatively, you could imagine the thoughts being placed inside a balloon and floating away.
- Reach out for help. Tragedies and uncertain times affect us all differently, depending on our personal circumstances, relation to the tragedy, and our coping skills at the moment. If you could use some support in coping, reach out.
- RRC Staff can access the Employee and Family Assistance Program: http://blogs.rrc.ca/hr/wellness/employee-family-program/
- RRC Students can access Counselling supports: http://blogs.rrc.ca/counselling/personal/
Breanna, Mental Health Coordinator