“Did you feel empowered?”
I stared at the text, unsure of how to answer. I’d participated in a Justice for Mike Brown rally the evening before; transfixed by faces as wearied as mine. Weary from hours spent every evening since it began; watching the feeds from Ferguson, worried about what would happen to the residents. To my friends. Even more concerned about what would happen if I stopped watching. Watching until uneasy sleep overtook me, arising to feel guilt overtake me.
“I have a lot of feelings,” I answered. ”None include ‘empowered’, though.”
I was exhausted; I was spent and emotionally numb. I’d done everything I could do from my location; I furiously forwarded information to my friends that were not tuned in the way I was. I’d donated and passed on the links to everyone I knew. I’d argued with my associates that got their news from traditional sources instead of Twitter. I rallied. I hashtagged. I watched. I shared. It somehow never felt like “enough”. I struggled to barely feel useful, let alone empowered. Intuitive by nature and introverted by design I get weighed down very easily by heavy times such as these. I could barely keep my head above water tuned in to the continuous stream of pain and anger. I was burning out fast and had few tools for these circumstances.
However, one of the best things about social networking is learning you are not alone in your feelings. Many have shared their struggles with coping and finding peace within the 24/7 cycle of information available and constant pull to act. I turned to Janelle Belgrave, Acupuncturist, Clairvoyant Intuitive and Astrologer at Nuurvana for tips on how to pause and allow for self-care while remaining engaged.
What can cause emotional burnout during events such as these?
J: Emotional burnout typically happens when we take on other people’s emotional energy and identify it as our own. Its great to be able to empathize with the struggles of others around us, but at a certain point we begin to believe that if we don’t feel the pain deeply and viscerally, that somehow we don’t care enough about whats going on. We then go into overdrive by staying informed, spreading information and staying on top of breaking news in an attempt to be supportive and then quickly find ourselves hitting walls.
For the activist reader; how can one pull back and find their center without disengaging or unplugging entirely?
J: Scheduling in breaks from involvement can help. Taking walks, or spending time with people who aren’t nearly as involved with the movement can help give perspective. Watching comedy films, listening to uplifting music, going out into nature or to a place of sanctuary. I’m a big advocate of meditation & intuitive techniques that I use in my practice that aids in clearing our minds & our energy. It’s also important to remind ourselves that for every negative bit of news that we receive, there’s at least twice as much positive news that isn’t being covered. Remember that there is good in the world & in our daily lives, it’s a matter of seeing it.
For those of us that are intuitive or Highly Sensitive (HSP), what can we do to help prevent an overload or shutdown?
J: I’ve learned first-hand that staying neutral and holding space or others without becoming emotionally involved is key. When we become attached to an outcome for others, it becomes difficult to act in the best interest for everyone involved. It’s similar to being a doctor giving round the clock care to the sick, then they too fall ill because of exposure and exhaustion. A few tips:
*Decide upon a role that you want to take on when helping others: Are you the listener? The advisor? The motivator? Choose one and treat it like a part time job, meaning there are times that you’re off duty. Being all things to those around us can quickly lead to burn-out.
*Prioritize Empowerment & Action, Not Pain: Very often people seek out HSP’s to unload their baggage. They get to walk away feeling lighter while HSP’s will take on their baggage as their own. Over time this leads to feelings of anxiety, depression, despondency & confusion on what is truthfully their own emotional energy & what belongs to others. When someone approaches you with their struggle, listen with intention but also ask them if they plan to take action to correct the situation. In helping them discover an action plan both parties can walk away feeling empowered & inspired. If there’s no desire to take action or create positive change, feel free to disengage from future conversations about the matter. They may be using you to unload their negativity, a form of energy vampirism.
Do you have any other self-care tips for highly stressful or emotionally charged times?
J: Journaling as way unload any thoughts that may be subconsciously causing stress is helpful. I find that being out in nature-even if for a few minutes-can do wonders to lower stress in emotionally charged times.
*Learn when it’s time to tap out of the day. As soon as you start to feel negative about the situation before you, it may be time to take a break or simply try again another day. Take a break before the physical symptoms (like headaches) begin.
*Creative outlets are helpful; things like sketching, painting, writing, dancing, etc. all assist in relaxing mind, body and spirit. *Exercise, even if it’s simply a brisk walk up and down a few flights of stairs or gentle yoga. Moving our bodies and our blood gets our energy circulating. Flowing energy goes hand in hand with reduced stress and improved health. Finding supportive community can help mitigate feelings of isolation and powerlessness. We’re all in this together, working as a team to change the world.
Thank you Janelle for this insightful interview!! You can click here for more information on Janelle’s services. And if you are in the New York area, you can check out events like Nuurvana’s Monthly Mixer that focus on meditation and writing to help process what’s happening in the world:
80 E. 11th Street, Suite 314
**$25 Suggested Donation, all proceeds going to charity. No one will be turned away for lack of donation.