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Ask Mandisa 17 – Care for Oneself to Care for Others


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Canadian Atheist

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/03/03

Mandisa Thomas is the Founder of Black Nonbelievers, Inc (Twitter & Facebook). One of the, if not the, largest organization for African-American or black nonbelievers or atheists in America.

The organization is intended to give secular fellowship, provide nurturance and support for nonbelievers, encourage a sense of pride in irreligion, and promote charity in the non-religious community.

I reached out to begin an educational series with one of the, and again if not the, most prominent African-American woman nonbeliever grassroots activists in the United States.

Here, we talk about caring for oneself as much as they care for others, in order to better care for others.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How do you manage self-care?

Mandis Thomas: It seems to be a trendy term now.  But I will go to the gym and workout whenever I can. I will also eat ice cream [Laughing], and get my nails done. 

Because I have to deal with a lot of things. I make sure that I keep up my sense of style. I got to the spa whenever I can. I will also have breakfast, lunch, or dinner by myself. That is part of my self-care routine.

Those are the things that keep me in line If I am having a rough day or a rough patch. I try to set some boundaries. I have a problem with answering so may things right away.

I try to curb that habit to keep my piece of mind. It helps a lot.

Jacobsen: If you were helping a mid-level manager or a high-level person, what would be the different levels of self-care recommendations?

Thomas: I would recommend people know what their limits are and to ask for help. I would make sure that they are doing what is within their capabilities.

If they recognize that there are problematic people, then they are empowered to say, “No.” No is a complete sentence. You don’t have to accommodate everyone. We are a welcoming organization, but we are all not licensed professionals. There is a limit to what we can do. And that’s okay. 

Jacobsen: When is self-care too much care?

Thomas: Self-care becomes too much care when you become disconnected from the process. If you aren’t checking up on things regularly, if you are not responding in a certain time frame, or if you find yourself in something too distracting from all the problems in your life, then that becomes too much. 

Even though we should take time to rest and relax, this is still something that we stepped up to do, and we are responsible for it. When you find yourself becoming too disengaged, then that is a problem.

Jacobsen: What are some recommendations for boundary setting, you can engage in the self-care?

Thomas: I give myself a 24-48-hour window of response time. That way, I stay on track. Also, for those of us who manage online spaces, we tend to have guidelines. For example, on Facebook, we we are not a place to be harassing and discouraging, and violators can be ejected at our discretion.

We make this clear from the onset. We also send reminders to our members to read up on our policies. 

Because, unfortunately, it is the nature of people to not review things carefully. We go by that. We set the boundaries. And if we find people aren’t following them, then we will manage them right out of the door.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Mandisa.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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