In heavy phases of life, when it feels as if weight of the world is doubling on a daily basis, Blair Imani—author, educator, activist, and the creator of Smarter in Seconds—says that it’s pivotal to give yourself a chance to pause, breathe, and be open to opportunities to protect your inner peace.
On the latest episode of The Well+Good Podcast, Imani, a firm advocate for more honest, empathetic conversations about mental health, walks us through the process of overcoming overwhelm and shares some of the steps she’s taken to safeguard her own well-being in times of turmoil: a (very) necessary part of showing up for her community at her best.
Experts In This Article
- Blair Imani, author, educator, historian, and advocate. She is the creator of the viral web series Smarter in Seconds, co-owner of Fempower Beauty and Head of Education at FEMINIST.
Navigating social media while protecting your mental health during stressful times
Imani, who has amassed more than half a million followers on Instagram alone, is an online educator on a mission to “educate people one post at a time.” (Spoiler: She’s crushing it.) However, with great power comes great responsibility, which Imani says can be both demanding and stressful—especially when the topics up for debate aren’t black or white.
“We’re not meant to be in a constant state of panic and suffering, constantly witnessing our fellow family, [friends], and human beings suffering,” Imani says. “And yet, here we are. We have this world where we can have the worst news possibly imaginable—we’ve realized that in the past week—delivered to our phones, and as we’re processing it [those of us with a social media following are] also expected to speak up at the drop of a hat.”
“I love educating people…But I recently turned off my direct messages and my story replies, and I feel so much better. I shouldn’t be communicating with a thousand different strangers every week who all have very strong opinions on what I put on my head, what I put on my face, what I wear…”
As an educator on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, Imani has felt pressure to react or be ready to spew well-formed opinions at all times… about pretty much everything going on in the world. But cutting through the noise and formulating cohesive thoughts times time and attention. This is why processing events, educating yourself about what’s going on around you, and checking in with loved ones first is vital.
@blairimaniHAPPY NON-BINARY PEOPLES DAY! Let’s celebrate everyone living beyond the binary ✨💛🤍💜🖤✨♬ original sound – Blair Imani
The pressure to respond immediately to everything in a public way has led Imani to redefine her relationship with social media to ensure she helps herself before she helps the internet. “I’m still in the social media space, but I really had to reimagine the conditions and structures that I’m allowing myself to engage with because it’s untenable. And just because I can survive it doesn’t mean I need to,” Imani says. A fair point.
Tips for safeguarding your inner peace on social media
One safeguard Imani has put in place is quieting a bit of the (unnecessary) sound. “I love educating people. I love providing free resources. I love having a classroom community. But I recently turned off my direct messages and my story replies, and I feel so much better,” Imani says. Her reasoning behind the decision? “I shouldn’t be communicating with a thousand different strangers every week who all have very strong opinions on what I put on my head, what I put on my face, what I wear.”
Instead of people-pleasing, Imani prioritizes sharing her opinions and doing so on her terms—something she encourages others to do. Also helpful? Embracing that, when it comes to social media, it’s impossible to make everyone feel entirely seen. “I’ve been trying to sit with the immense disappointment that people have with me for not communicating what’s in their hearts and what they want to see reflected back, but I also have realized that that’s not my responsibility as a human being, nor is that something that I can accomplish,” Imani says.
Most importantly, Imani encourages folks to be kind to others, and more importantly, to oneself—especially in the midst of global unrest. “Giving yourself grace is the biggest part,” Imani says.
For more discussion on topics of racism, online bullying, body image, what it’s like to be a queer Black woman today, and other ways of overcoming overwhelm to protect your mental health through it all, listen to the full episode of The Well+Good Podcast. Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.