Mindfulness and Wellness Can Help Combat Burnout During the DEI Journey
Throughout the process of dismantling systems of oppression that cause suffering for so many, we must take time as individuals to ensure that our mental, physical, and emotional well-being are considered and nourished. Seeing the world through a DEI lens and constantly acting as a force for good can be exhausting. It’s clear that we are not doing DEI work because it’s easy. We’re doing this work because until everyone in our society experiences freedom, equity, and belonging, nobody is truly free. Because we are undeniably interconnected, what affects some of us affects all of us.
Individuals who belong to identity groups that face more oppression must intentionally practice self-care and community-care. While not all of us have bountiful time or space to self-nourish and connect with support systems as regularly, if we are intentional about caring for ourselves, we will be able to find ways to rest and slow down. Even doing something as basic as taking a few deep breaths, consciously slowing down, or taking a 5 minute walk to center and ground can help cultivate inner transformation. This can lead to a greater sense of peace and agency as we find our way in a world that is stacked against us. Prioritizing health and well-being may be as simple as taking a few extra moments to pause and breathe so that you can self-regulate and slow down. When we tend to our own garden and are intentional with our rest & recovery, we can have more energy and love to put into our DEI work. As we cultivate a sense of well-being within ourselves, we have more freedom and ability to choose rather than just react , increasing our ability to find the appropriate response in each moment.
Individuals who hold more privilege than others must take the time to water the seeds of allyship so that each day, we utilize privilege for the betterment of all people. Alongside education and the development of cultural competency, mindfulness and wellness can help individuals with more privilege manage the guilt and frustration that naturally arises as they face systemic oppression and their complicity in these systems. With mindfulness they can feel more fully into these inner experiences without bypassing the experience. For example, if a white man recognizes that he is benefitting from white privilege and male privilege, he can utilize mindfulness and compassion techniques to breathe, feel into the guilt and discomfort in a controlled and safe way, and find a way to utilize his privilege for the wellbeing of others. In this instance, the goal is not to necessarily make the DEI journey “easy” for people with privilege, it is to make it more effective so that those with privilege can more readily utilize their newfound awareness and privilege for good. They can be present with these emotions and set self-love and compassion for others as their primary intention.
In all, wellness and mindfulness can fuel our personal DEI journey. This will lead to a larger transformation of our society so that one day, everyone, regardless of their identities, will have the opportunity and space to live a life of meaning and happiness.