I’m anxious. Not to date myself, but I’ve had the pleasure of having a big ball of anxiety sitting right beneath my thoughts since Mariah Carey dominated the charts with “We Belong Together.” I was anxious before I even learned there was a name for it. I’m probably, comfortably the least mushy member of Team Born This Way Foundation because of my anxiety, so please bear with me as I try to share.
For the first time in a long time, I fear my anxiety and the stress that comes with it. Living in a pandemic, you want to do whatever you can to protect your health and stress is particularly bad for your immune system. As a Black woman, I’m keenly aware of the fact that Black and Brown people are dying from COVID-19 at disproportionately higher rates. Racism is, of course, its own pre-existing condition. And if you’re anxious like I am, either new to this feeling or having sat with it for a while, then I think we’re feeling the same urge to do something, anything to affect what is happening around us.
Maya gave our team the opportunity to do just that by giving us each money to donate to the cause of our choosing. I got the gift of taking a break from finishing tasks at work, reorganizing my closet for the fifteenth time, and stress cleaning to reflect on my values and where I wanted to help. My donation went to the National Domestic Workers Alliance’s Coronavirus Care Fund, which provides $400 in emergency assistance for home care workers. This assistance will hopefully help more people stay home and safe. I also donated to National Bail Out, a community-based organization working to free Black mothers and caregivers from jail and support them once they’re out. Their work is especially urgent given the rates of COVID-19 infection in jails.
If you’re anxious like me, we’re trying to solve little problems because we can control those or watching the news super closely as if we can figure this all out ourselves. There is nothing wrong with these coping mechanisms (though I would watch your news intake as I’m trying to monitor my own), but I’d also suggest kindness. It’s good for our mental health, and doing something kind for ourselves or others is immediately gratifying.
Putting kindness and good out into the world doesn’t just mean donating to your favorite cause. That good can take many forms, including:
- forgiving your partner’s passion for puzzles
- leaving a kind comment online for a friend or stranger
- practicing affirmations and saving a few for when you’ll want them later
- calling to check in on a loved one
- advocating for better protections for groups like essential workers and underserved communities
- trying a new skin-care routine
- giving yourself the permission to laugh at your favorite meme
So I encourage you (and me) to accept that we can’t control what happens to and around us but we can decide how we react. To quote Born This Way Foundation co-founder, Lady Gaga, “Kindness currency is absolutely free and anyone can give it.”