How a Black LGBTQ couple is taking care of their mental health right now
"We do worry and get overwhelmed...but we have a family to raise, so we have to stay headstrong for them."
Sundays are a day to recharge and reset by hanging with friends, turning off your phone, bathing for hours on end, or doing whatever else works for you. In this column (in conjunction with our Instagram Self-Care Sunday series), we ask editors, experts, influencers, writers, and more what a perfect self-care Sunday means to them, from tending to their mental and physical health to connecting with their community to indulging in personal joys. We want to know why Sundays are important and how people enjoy them, from morning to night.
When social distancing mandates were initially put in place in March in America, Ryan G. (who works in commercial property management) and Ryan J. (who works in the medical field), started trying to implement rituals at home to secure a sense of normalcy for their family of four. “Before the pandemic began, Sunday was always the day we ‘brunched.’ It didn’t feel like a true weekend if we didn’t go out for brunch,” says Ryan G., who has two sons (an 11-year-old and a 9-month-old) with Ryan J. “So to maintain one of our favorite things to do, it’s a must that we cook breakfast every Sunday morning.”
However, Sundays for the Ryans have been looks a little different as of late. Since the death of George Floyd launched a global movement, the couple has also been using this day to check in with their mental health. “These past weeks have been very heavy for people of color due to the police brutality that caused George Floyd’s death—so heavy that Sunday really is a ‘pause and reset day,'” says. Ryan J. “Just [make] sure your peace of mind is intact. It’s so important.”
For the duo, maintaining their mental health means not doing a single damn thing on their to-do list during the weekend. “Sunday is literally the day that I do nothing but what I want to do!” says Ryan G. “Anything that has to get done doesn’t get done on Sunday. It helps me not to lose myself in the long to-do list I had the week before.”
For this week’s Self-Care Sunday, we spoke to Ryan G. and Ryan J. to learn more about their current weekend routine. Here, in their own words, are their go-to Sunday activities, plus advice for people who are struggling with how the government is handling the Black Lives Matter movement.
Ryan G.: I think I can speak for both of us since Ryan and I have been very open with each other during these crazy times. Our mental health is actually okay. We do worry and get overwhelmed with everything we see on the news that’s happening to our people, but we have a family to raise, so we have to stay headstrong for them, of course.
Go-to best mental health practices
Ryan G.: Doing anything to help! We’re signing every petition, donating and supporting black businesses during the pandemic. As long as we know that we’re doing something to help, we are sane.
Ryan G.: Sundays are like the countdown to the reality that starts Monday morning, so my mind works better if I’m prepared and ready to start the week. Writing down goals for the week with coffee or tea in the evening is my go-to wind-down.
Ryan J.: I just work out. Working out solves everything. Fitness is life!
Ryan G.: All we do is clean, cook, chase a crawling 9-month-old around, shower, and get dressed to go absolutely nowhere. We are so used to hopping in the car and doing a whole itinerary that I’ve made—but not anymore.
Ryan J.: We clean way more than we did pre-pandemic, I guess because we have more time on our hands. As long as the house is clean, I’m very calm and serene.
Ryan G.: I am in the process of getting our 9-month-old’s room together. So scrolling through Pinterest and shopping on Amazon is making his room serene—and I’m calm because I’m shopping!
Ryan G.: We talk to my parents and sisters every day on FaceTime. My mother and a couple of other loved ones had birthdays during this time, so group Zoom calls were in full effect with the whole family.
Ryan J.: Yes! FaceTime has definitely been a lifesaver for us.
Ryan G.: If you haven’t noticed already, this family loves to eat. On Sundays, we were either at Ryan’s mother’s house for breakfast or my parents’ house for dinner. We miss them so much, but our tastebuds miss them more!
Ryan J.: My face breaks out really easily, so I have to do my weekly facials. During the week I wash my face with Dove sensitive soap in the morning and at night. But on Sundays, I complete my facial with a DIY mask we make using sugar, lemon, and aloe vera.
Ryan G.: I am a new shopper at Trader Joe’s and their beauty section is amazing. I’m currently trying a couple of different face masks, so I’ll get back to you with specifics. But facials while burning sage—the best.
At-home late-night Sunday rituals
Ryan G.: Watch Insecure on HBO at 10 p.m.
Quarantine silver linings
Ryan G.: Oh my god, not having to go into work! Being able to wake up 10 minutes before you’re due at your laptop in your living room and not having to be in traffic is probably the biggest positive in all of this besides getting this extra time with the kids.
Ryan J.: I already work from home so everything is pretty normal for me. I’m just happy that she’s happy she can be here with the boys. Especially our youngest.
Advice for people who may be having a tough time with the government’s handlings of Black Lives Matter
Ryan G.: If you’re a person of color, it’s so important for us to know that change cannot and will not happen until we as people do something about it. Reposting every BLM post and a black box is not going to provoke change if that’s all you do. Sign those petitions, donate, and most importantly vote! We need to represent and be the voice for our people out loud.
And for my non-Black people who are for the Black Lives Matters Movement, do your research and have those uncomfortable conversations with your friends of color to try to understand that racism is systematic. Don’t let this just be a trend. Use your white privilege to be a good ally to the Black community and raise awareness. Be the change this country needs, always!