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Feeling the effects of burnout as a black woman

30 Oct 2020

Hamdi Rage

Feeling the effects of burnout as a black woman

When I found out that BulsEye’s October edition would be a black history month edition, I was excited. Quickly after, I started planning all these witty, clever articles on the price of individualism as a black brit, on respectability politics, and on why black history month was needed now, in 2020, more than ever. But every time I opened my laptop to write them, I found myself staring at a blank google docs page. At first, I thought it was a lack of inspiration, so I drowned myself in books by Black British authors, hoping some of their talent and motivation would rub off on me. However, the more I tried, the more I became sure that this was actually a case of burnout.


2020 has been a hard year for most, as people have been forced to live through intersecting crises of a global pandemic and an economic recession. However, the international black community have also had to live through a summer rife with systemic racism and police brutality. And now, the continent of Africa seems to be on fire. Logging on to twitter now is what seems to essentially be an endless scroll of suffering, with #EndSars, #CongoIsBleeding and #ZimbabweanLivesMatter constantly trending. The upcoming US elections is currently being globally broadcasted. We wake up almost every day and witness the various ways the president of the United states shows how little regard he has for Black lives. The UK government has recently showcased how little regard they have for working class school kids.


A study found that women are more likely to experience burnout than men, and black women are more likely to experience ‘accelerated biological aging’ from stress, like the stress of being constantly exposed to police brutality and facing microaggression at work or in education. Until recently, my unhealthy coping mechanism was to put more on my plate. To join every protest, every society for people of colour at university, and absorb all the information I could on the unlawful arrests of Sars, the genocide taking place in Congo to extract its natural resources and the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. But if I do push myself harder, the study suggests that I will increase my chances of wearing myself out on a cellular level. And in the midst of this, I’m expected to debate about the existence of racism in a seminar where I am the only person of colour. With all of that in mind, it is no wonder I feel burnt-out.


If you too are feeling the effects of burnout, whether from the pandemic, university work or any other reason, I will leave you with a couple of ways you can preserve your mental health during these turbulent and challenging times.


Take a break from social media and the news

While social media is great for communication, it can allow your stressors to seep into your life. You may feel guilty for shutting yourself from all the things going on right now, but you cannot help anyone if you do not help yourself first.


Talk it out

Whether this is with a licenced professional or with trusted friends and family, it is important to talk through your feelings. During times like these, especially if you’re avoiding social media, it can feel like you’re fighting a losing battle, alone. But you aren’t. By talking to others, it may bring you ease knowing that we are all in this together.


Create

Channel your feelings into a passion or pick up a new one. Whether that is poetry, painting, writing or something entirely different, allow yourself the chance to do something just for fun.


Take a mental health day

Schedule in mental health days where you can take a day off, guilt free, as regularly as you can. You can spend the day doing whatever brings you the most joy, but you can also talk a walk in your local park or do a fun dance workout listening to the soundtrack of your favourite movie or musical.

Nadia Snopek