‘We’ve been forced to be adaptable’ -- How #BlackLivesMatter’s Alicia Garza is still fighting for democracy during the COVID-19 pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, it can be difficult to manage stress and anxiety. With most stay-at-home and social distancing orders still in effect, the pandemic has also uprooted everyday lives and businesses, forcing sometimes unwanted and tumultuous change.

“The world is changing right now, and a lot of that feels like it's out of our control,” says Alicia Garza, the Co-Creator of #BlackLivesMatter and Principal at Black Futures Lab, which works to empower Black voters and communities in politics.

In an interview with Yahoo Life, Garza discusses how political participation is changing amidst the pandemic and also shares her tips for mental wellbeing and productivity in a time of such uncertainty.

Video Transcript

ALICIA GARZA: The world is changing right now, and a lot of that feels like it's out of our control. So for me, focus on the things I can control. I can control getting in the shower and putting on clean clothes or, at the very least, just put on clean underwear. It's going to make you feel amazing.

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I cannot start my day without a diffuser. I have different oils for different things that I need to get done. If I'm finding that my stress level is super high and, like, my heart is beating up in my neck, then I definitely will use, like, a lavender oil. If I need a little bit of clarity, I'll use a lemon oil. It helps me check in with myself. What is my mood today? What do I need? It encourages me to breathe.

I have been exercising probably about four to five times a week, which is unheard of for me. But I'm finding that daily exercise is actually really important for anxiety and stress. I just notice with myself that if I don't sweat during the day, I lay awake in bed stressed out. It's not about weight loss for me. It's about emotional health.

So before this virus hit, what I would do to impact the political process was organize with my community. We've been forced to be adaptable in this moment.

At the National Domestic Workers Alliance, we launched a coronavirus care fund for domestic workers who are out of work or are struggling to make ends meet right now, and I'm so proud to present the Black Agenda 2020. We've been doing a ton of work to clarify why is it that black communities are being disproportionately impacted by this disease and what can we do about it. And that has given me a sense of there are things that I control.

I got inspired to do this podcast because here we are on rona lockdown. Everybody's saying you should be productive. So "Lady Don't Take No" is your weekly roundup of all of the real and none of the fake. As somebody who spends a lot of time in politics, I often retreat to understanding social dynamics through pop culture, and so that's what you get on "Lady Don't Take No."

My advice for people who are feeling anxious or pressured to be productive, don't feel pressured to try to do everything right now. You can even just try mastering making the most excellent chewy chocolate-chip cookies, and that is an incredible accomplishment.