Coping With Social Injustice
Recent national events spotlighting long-standing social injustice have been impacting many of us at Mizzou, including incidents of hate that have occurred on our campus.
Expressions of hate and threats of violence are unacceptable, and we want to reach out to our campus community to show our support and offer assistance as needed.
You may be experiencing a wide range of emotional reactions to legal decisions, media coverage, classroom discussions and campus events. Common reactions include feelings of anger, fear, disillusionment, frustration, disappointment and a desire for change.
The Counseling Center offers support to students who may be impacted by recent or longstanding social injustice. We would also like to share some ways you may be able to take care of yourself.
Asking for Help
You may find it really difficult to ask for help or may not want to involve outsiders with these kinds of difficulties. Please know it shows strength to ask for help and many of the resources around you are very willing to provide you with support.
Choose Your Fights Carefully
Choose just a few causes or values that you want to consistently support. There may be many issues you feel a desire or need to fight for, however engaging in every fight can be overwhelming and get in the way of being able to take care of yourself. When you are overwhelmed and not taking care of yourself it is much harder to impact the world.
Limit Exposure to News and Social Media
As you engage in discussions with friends or family, peers and faculty, or others from your communities, you have likely encountered people who have very different reactions than your own. Sometimes these differences may be hurtful or scary, adding to the intensity of the emotions you are already feeling. Additionally, exposure to news coverage or being on social media can also amplify your experience. It can help to monitor whether this activity is having a positive or negative effect on you and consider limiting your exposure if it is making you feel worse.
Schedule Time to Take Care of You
When we are feeling more stress, we often let basic self-care fall away, but taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do. Good self-care allows you to be a better friend, student, advocate, etc. Getting proper nutrition, developing a routine to encourage rejuvenating sleep, drinking water, minimizing intake of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and other drugs, and taking time to relax and play are important ways to mitigate stress. Allow yourself time to do things you enjoy such as creative expression, watching movies, listening to music, reading books for fun or spending time with a pet. (http://Black Lives Matter Meditation; Strategies for Self-Care; https://www.calm.com/; Loving-Kindness Meditation (audio)).
Pay Attention to Your own Thoughts and Feelings
Noticing what is happening in your thoughts and feelings can help you take care of yourself better. Give yourself permission to feel how you feel. Be gentle with yourself and cultivate (http://self compassion.; 5 Strategies for Self-Compassion) Develop strategies to maintain helpful thought processes (Strategies to Manage Negative Thoughts; More Strategies to Manage Negative Thoughts), express your feelings to friends, in a journal, through prayer or learn to work with your thoughts and feelings effectively through meditation.
Connect With Friends and Allies
Connecting with others to share both excitement and pain is important. It can be particularly difficult when friends or family members have values or ideals that are different from your own. Creating a safe group of allies, people who share your values and have your back, can help you cope and offer support. Talking with others about things that are important to you, sharing hurts, celebrating joys, and relaxing or playing can create a sense of safety and belonging that goes a long way to helping manage stress. If you are looking for a safe place on campus check out the Centers for Social Justice (Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center; Multicultural Center; LGBTQ Resource Center, Women’s Center) or a faith community that fits your values and beliefs (MU Guide to Religions).
Taking action toward your goals or values is one way to channel energy into something meaningful. Find ways to allow your voice to be heard. We all do this in different ways. You can donate to a cause that is important to you, volunteer on campus or in the community, participate in gatherings, protests, or town hall meetings, write to your lawmakers, get involved in organizations that fit your values, or simply have discussions with your friends. Taking action can help you feel more in control and less confused or helpless.