Trauma with Resmaa Menakem
Most of this page is influenced by the work of Resmaa Menakem, a somatic therapist and author whose work focuses on healing racialized trauma. If you're interested, check out this podcast to learn more about trauma and Resmaa Menakem.
"Trauma is currently a hot topic of study and discussion. But for far too long, we’ve ignored it at our peril. Here, with guidance from clinical therapist and author Resmaa Menakem, we explore both the broader landscapes of trauma and how racialized trauma is situated within it. We look at the ways we are all suffering from its ugly legacy and the roles we can play in helping to heal the traces it has left on our bodies, minds, and society."
A Beginners Guide to Self Care A routine for health, healing, and happiness (Adapted from the 'growth routine' in Resmaa Menakem's book, My Grandmothers Hand's)
Drink Water! This may seem basic but getting more than 24oz of water in your body each day gives your body the resources it needs to keep you attentive and happy.
Be attentive to how you fuel your body! If given the chance, try to fuel your body with as many fruits, veggies, and lean proteins as possible. This is the kind of sustainable fuel your body needs to function. In addition, try to limit your intake of alcohol, sugar, and caffeine each day (ideally 1-2 cups of coffee). Making mindful decisions about the food you intake is crucial for bodily well-being.
Get good sleep. I know this one seems outrageous and daunting, maybe even impossible, but I believe you can do it! Good sleep usually means 7 to 8 hours per night. Allowing yourself to get the rest you deserve can improve your mood, concentration, and reduce stress. Even allowing yourself to lie down and close your eyes for 20 minutes can be especially rejuvenating.
Move your body. Getting outside and moving your body for at least 30 minutes every day helps your mental and physical health in a number of ways. You don't need to be a certified gym rat to work out. Rather, go for a walk with friends outside, swim, or bike! All are great ways to work your body.
Do things for you. In this day and age, it may feel like we have no time left in the day to do things for ourselves. I encourage you to take a moment to enjoy the simple, little things that you like. Whether it's watching the sunset, doodling, playing an instrument, or tending to plants, try to find time for one thing that feels good every day.
Make a routine. Each of these things when done separately can have immense health benefits, but focusing on maintaining a healthy routine around caring for your mind and body can produce benefits that are lifelong. I encourage each of you to begin the day with a mindfulness activity (easily found through a google search) and then make time to fuel, water, and work your mind and body in the ways listed above. Reminder: DO NOT ABANDON THIS ROUTINE WHEN THINGS GET HARD! Instead, increase your routine to make more time for good things. This additional self-love will strengthen your resilience.
Try to avoid drugs and alcohol. Many of you are aware of the negative health outcomes of tobacco use, alcohol, and other addictive substances. Try to be mindful of the ways in which you interact with these substances. Ultimately, avoiding these substances will keep you free from unnecessary health outcomes.
Listen to your body. If your body needs rest, sleep. If you're stressed out, step outside for a brief walk. Whatever you notice in your body, try to be as responsive as possible. If something doesn't feel right, this could be your body trying to tell you something. Think about this feeling and ask yourself, "Am I doing something that would make me feel this way?" Change your behavior and see if there is a difference. This self-experimentation allows you to learn about what your body really needs.
Guided Breath Exercises
Calm Breathe Bubble
Follow along with this video, breathing in and out with the bubble. Before watching, seat yourself in a comfortable position. Place both feet flat on the floor and sit up straight. Now, you are ready to begin.
When difficult situations arise in today's world, sometimes we find ourselves ignoring the issue altogether. Tune into this 6-minute podcast to open your eyes and learn how to maneuver this newly perceived reality.
Breath Exercise for Anxiety and Depression
Follow along with this teacher as they guide you through a beginner's breath exercise for anxiety and depression.
Get Your Body Moving
Follow along and get your body moving with this yoga flow for beginners.
Below are several group activities highlighted by Resmaa Menakem in his book My Grandmother's Hands. These are activities that can be done before meetings, difficult conversations, or even group gatherings. To move with those around you can create a space for healing and conversation. At first, you may feel uncomfortable suggesting these activities in professional or casual settings. Do not let this emotion stop you! Creating a norm of grounding yourself and working through difficult moments of stress and anxiety can start with you. So laugh, be slightly embarrassed, and have fun.
Body Practices To Do Together From Resmaa Menakem's My Grandmother's Hands*Please do these activities with individuals or groups you know and trust*
Hum or sing together. Hum or sing a tune, single note, or series of notes you all know.
Hum and touch. Find someone that you trust to touch you. Before you begin to hum, have your partner face away from you. Next gently cup your hand around the base of their skull (this is where your soul nerve begins, a concept Menakem elaborates in his book). Begin to hum together while keeping your hand on their skull. After a period of time, switch places.
Rub your bellies, breastbones, or solar plexuses at the same time. In a group, however large or small, each person will rub their own.
Braiding or combing each other's hair. Remember, this is not a gendered activity. Anyone can braid or comb anyone else's hair.
Take a silent walk together with the goal of keeping your footsteps in sync. Walk side by side or one after the other. Remember to keep silent as you walk in sync.
Massage someone's hand for one or two minutes. After getting their permission, massage their hand(s) gently for a minute or two.
If you are with someone who is in emotional distress, simply sit with them and be settled and present. If they are crying, let yourself cry as well. If they wish to talk, allow them the space to be heard and listen attentively. Refrain from interrupting, asking questions, or making judgments.
Line dance or folk dance together. Do this as a group and not as partners.
Sit silently in a circle for a small amount of time and breathe together. Deliberately choose not to make eye contact during this activity. Instead, cast your eyes downwards or keep them closed. Breathe together as a group for 10 to 15 minutes.
Rhythmic group clapping. Clap together using your bodies as drums to create a beat for everyone to do together.
Cook together. This also includes eating together, feeding each other, giving food to those who are going through difficult times, sharing recipes, teaching others to cook, cooking together, cooking for an event, or hosting a potluck. Stick to foods that make people feel good. Be mindful of your audience, that is ask about any dietary restrictions your group may have to best accommodate those you wish to share good food with.
Offer supportive touch. Gently but firmly, offer someone support by holding a part of their body. This can be their hand, their shoulder, or the back of their neck. Remember to ask permission before you attempt to touch them. This can be especially effective if someone is distraught. You can also hum or sing if you'd like.