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An Indigenous American on How to Avoid or Recover from Social Injustice Fatigue

Kimberly Owen – November 16, 2021

Stress and mental health issues are on a rise from the effects of Covid. Also, we are colliding with overwhelming exhaustion from people who are working so hard on the front lines of social injustice and systemic racism. As an American Indian, I know firsthand how mentally depleting it can be explaining why there are inequities that continue to exist in today’s world with Indigenous people. Mental issues and stress from the chaos of the world are real. So, how do we fight the feeling of burnout and fatigue from all this inequality?

Social Injustice fatigue can alter the body in many ways to the point of affecting sleep, foggy thinking, and emotional deregulation. This can affect your whole being — mind, body and spirit. The danger in this is that people resort to coping mechanisms that don’t serve them well. Maladaptive coping mechanism are compartmentalization, impulsivity that looks aggressive, along with overwhelming emotions that lead to deregulation that makes a person look like they are going insane. Some people just shut down and freeze while the amygdala goes into high gear.

Here are more healthy coping mechanisms to implement as you advocate for justice.

ONE

Find what lane works for you. If you are not an ethnic minority or a part of a marginalized group, find what place you can make a difference. Poet Lindsay Young tweeted,

Resistance is NOT a one lane highway. Maybe your lane is protesting, maybe your lane is organizing, maybe your lane is counseling, maybe your lane is art activism, maybe your lane is surviving the day. Do NOT feel guilty for not occupying every lane. We need all of them.”

It may be just as simple as being aware of your on roles in systematic racism or the people you are around.

TWO

Educate yourself and have compassion for yourself and others for the inaccurate education that is out there about cultures and ethnicities. Invest in courses, books, and authors that are trusted. Read the reviews!

This version of the course offers five pre-recorded modules and is self-paced.

THREE

While advocating for social justice, stay out of the teenage brain. This keeps you from losing your cool. The teenage brain can make us say things that seem mean or disturbing to others. The teenage brain wants to win and cares only about self-gain. The more we can stay in our prefrontal cortex, the better we communicate. Theprefrontal cortex is the adult brain that plans complex cognitive situations, personality expression, decision making, and moderates social behavior. To learn more about how to stay present in the adult brain, check out The Adult Chair – A Guide to Loving Yourself by Mechele Chalfant.

FOUR

Take deep breaths. Deep breathing (sometimes called diaphragmatic breathing) is a practice that enables more air to flow into your body and can help calm your nerves thereby reducing stress and anxiety. Deep breathing can also help you improve your attention span and lower pain levels. Also, Emotional Focused Therapy offers non-invasive, effective methods for decreasing anxiety and getting relief from past traumas and stressors. One such method is called tapping, which is a great way to stay present during a potentially stressful encounter. Learn more about tapping here.

FIVE

The best therapy to avoid social injustice fatigue is to prioritize self-care. In other words, use your boundaries. In Boundaries for your Soul, Alison Cook and Kimberly Miller share


Personal growth requires that we create healthy boundaries for our internal world, just as we are to do in our interpersonal relationships. When the various parts of our soul are connected and integrated, the result is that we heal, relate, and function at the highest levels.

I hope you find this information helpful. If you have more questions about social injustice fatigue or need help with feeling its symptoms, please reach out to our mental health practice at www.sagehealingandwellness.com.


MA LCMHC, EMDR and Gottman Couples Trained Therapist
Kimberly Owen, founder of Sage Healing and Wellness is a counselor and a coach who helps women live out their unique beauty that creates change in the world around them. As an urban American Indian woman, Kimberly utilizes her heritage and training to help her clients.