How Instagram Helps Black Therapists Provide Self-Care Techniques For Their Community

Especially over the past two weeks, posts on Instagram have helped spread information about donations, petitions, and other ways to support the Black community. The social media platform has also become an accessible place to share mental health resources, and for the past couple of years, dozens of Black therapists have grown followings. They are providing crucial healing spaces on Instagram by posting informative graphics, meditation techniques, and book recommendations. Although that’s just the short list of their offerings, many of their suggestions are are rooted in, well, their roots. 

Take the popular account @decolonizingtherapy, for example. Jennifer Mullan, a New Jersey-based psychologist, started the account based on her personal and professional experiences realizing traditional forms of therapy often doesn’t address that stress and trauma — of any kind — often stem from systemic racism, largely as a result of colonization. Mullan decided to use decolonization as a starting point for her work. 

“Decolonizing is honoring the land we’re on and bringing it back to our original ancestral people,” she explains. From there, Mullan asked herself, “What were the ways our ancestors took care of each other? What were the ways we took care of each other’s emotional and mental health and what are the ways in which we function most optimally?” The answer: the support of a village. 

Instagram, within that context, provides a common place for people to find others who share their traumatic experiences, especially within the context of racism. “It is so healing to be able to see people say, ‘Yes, thank you for normalizing my rage,'” she tells Allure. “I’m realizing people feel less alone by identifying with each other on my page.”  

We spoke with Mullan and two other women in the mental health space who have burgeoning Instagram followings to share what they’ve been doing — on and offline — and recommending to others to help heal, cope, and feel more grounded during this intense time. 

1. Start Off the Day With Gratitude 

Before even touching her phone or getting out of bed, Mullan takes up at least 30 seconds to be grateful. She keeps a journal and pen on her nightstand to answer this question: What do I need today? 

New York City-based psychologist Mariel Buquè echoes this sentiment. She creates a simple list of things she’s grateful for: waking up, taking a breath, having a well-insulated home, being surrounded by love. “It’s just the small things because we can get caught up in the things we don’t have and that can produce unwellness,” she explains. 

2. Curate Your Instagram Feed 

First and foremost, Mullan and Buquè recommend restricting the time you spend on social media, so you’re not constantly processing the information you see on it. “Sometimes, it’s just too much. Sometimes, it feels unsafe,” Mullan notes. “I think it’s really healthy to decide when I’m able to jump on and when I’m not.” 

To control how much time you’re spending on social media, Buquè suggests setting aside a specific block of time on your calendar to go on and labeling with gentle words, like “time for some social media indulgence, and don’t forget to check in with yourself. ”

Once you’re on Instagram, Mullan says to feel free to mute people and only follow those whose content makes you feel good, educates you, or challenges you in a productive way. If that means minimizing your feed to 10 to 15 sources at a time, so be it. 

3. Make Space for Negative Emotions 

Talking about the things that bother us and allowing oneself to feel negative emotions is incredibly healing, according to Mullan. “If we don’t allow ourselves to process the intensity of what’s happening right now in this world, we’ll get stuck,” she adds. “We don’t want our emotions trapped in our bodies any more than they already are.” 

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