I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately. As I prepare to teach a full semester in-person for the first time in well over a year, I must admit I am a bit nervous about taking the subway on a regular basis and being with 35 students in a classroom with windows that do not open. My worries may seem minor compared to parents who are sending their unvaccinated children back to school or others who live in hot spots where their neighbors and colleagues do not believe in vaccines or masks.
For these reasons, I am encouraging everyone I know to follow the sage wisdom of my dear friend and colleague Dr. Khalilah Brown-Dean to “protect your peace.” I am doing that in a myriad of ways. I am getting sleep and drinking water. I am spending time with friends when I can. And I am taking advantage of just checking out when possible.
Each week, my dad calls and asks me what I am watching on my streaming services. We have very different television tastes so he calls each week to see if somehow our television viewing preferences have merged over the previous six days. I have been allowing myself to “check out” just a bit before the semester begins and binge watch a few shows.
Lately, “Flatbush Misdemeanors,” “Black Monday,” HBO’s NFL saga “Outside the Lines,” and “White Lotus” have kept my attention. Sometimes we need to just watch a little television and laugh and escape some of the drama surrounding us. Unfortunately, I have not been reading during the pandemic as much as I normally do when we aren’t in the midst of a crippling global crisis. I did manage to read Brit Bennett’s “The Vanish Half” earlier in the summer which captured my attention and was a true page turner.
There are so many ways we can check out, even for a few minutes each day. As I prepare for the semester, I find myself chained to my computer for hours at a time. I’ve started to practice chair yoga––that is yoga while sitting in my office chair. It’s the small things we can do to keep our bodies moving and our minds a bit more calm and our blood pressure just a touch lower.
We are living in very stressful times, and it is imperative we take some time (even if only for a few minutes each day) to check in with ourselves and check out if we must. Whether it’s televisions, novels, a stroll down the block, an extra few minutes of sleep, or something else, we must focus on taking care of ourselves and others.
As we move into the month of August, let’s use this as a time for new beginnings in all facets of our lives.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC.