On Taking Care of My Mental Health

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

As a Black person in the South — and really, as a Black person in general — mental health and wellness is something rarely talked about, and when it is, you’re told to simply “pray about it” or “Jesus will fix it.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with praying if it brings you comfort and peace, but for many people dealing with mental health issues, it isn’t enough.

My journey to taking my mental health more seriously started after having my daughter. Being a first-time mama was incredibly overwhelming, and I found myself feeling frustrated and disappointed most of the time, particularly because I felt like I didn’t have enough help from my husband. And looking back, I believe I was dealing with some post-partum depression as well.

The breaking point came when my husband asked me if I still wanted to be with him. That was when I realized I had to do something different, not just for the sake of my marriage, but so I could feel better and more at peace.

I wrote new affirmations around how I wanted to feel, and because I’m a researcher by nature, I Googled ways to better my marriage and myself. Through my research, I rediscovered meditation and began my practice, which also led me to restarting my yoga practice and really focusing on taking care of myself. As cliche as it sounds, these practices literally changed my life. In addition to feeling more calm, grounded, and centered, I now know how to tap into my inner peace whenever I need to.

Of course, I’m human, so I still deal with stress, and I have anxiety as well, so making sure I include my mental health as a part of self-care practices is an important part of my daily life. Some ways I do so (that you can, too) include:

  • Meditation and yoga
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Taking social media breaks
  • Saying affirmations
  • Reading inspirational books
  • Listening to inspirational podcasts
  • Going to therapy

Whether you’re dealing with a mental illness or the stress of your daily life, I encourage you to begin making your mental health and wellness a priority.

“Caring for the mind is as important and crucial as caring for the body. In fact, one cannot be healthy without the other.” – from”Approaching the Natural: a Health Manifesto”

Find Your Calm Week

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

April is Stress Awareness Month and to celebrate — and help you stress less and find your calm — I’ve created Find Your Calm Week! It’s happening April 4th-10th, and will be hosted on Black Girl’s Guide to Calm’s Facebook page.

The topics and tools I’ll be sharing:

  • Learning Your Stressors (Monday, 8:30 PM)
  • Meditation (Tuesday, 8:30 PM)
  • Incorporating Self-Care (Wednesday, 7:30 PM)
  • Knowing Your Stress Signals (Thursday, 11:30 AM)
  • Yoga (Friday, 8:30 PM)

Make sure you like the Facebook page so you don’t miss out! I look forward to helping you incorporate more calming practices in your life! Oh, and feel free to share with a friend — or on social media!

We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

4 Ways to Clear Energy That’s Not Serving You

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Although empaths tend to experience it in a more pronounced way, I believe we all feel when we’re in negative environments or when people around us affect our energy in not-so-great ways. The good news is that there are ways you can protect yourself and clear energy that’s not serving you. Here are four techniques to try:

1. Smudging is an ancient practice in which you burn sacred plants (like sage, for example) and allow the smoke to clear and bless a space — or yourself. I smudge our apartment, and myself, with sage weekly, but I also smudge myself when my energy is off or I’m feeling down, frustrated, anxious, etc.. Here’s how to do it:

  • Light the stick, and let it catch fire.
  • Let the fire out, letting the smoke billow from the stick.
  • If you’re smudging your home, walk around along each wall (or close to each wall), allowing the smoke to go everywhere. If you’re smudging yourself, wave the smoke, starting from your feet and moving up, over you body in front of and behind you. While smudging, you can verbalize what you’re releasing; For example, “I release doubt. I release fear. I release anything that no longer serves me.”
  • When you’re done, open a door or window to allow the old energy to leave.

2. Visualization. This is a technique you can practice if you know in advance you’re going to be in a negative environment or around negative people (say, work or around certain family members) and you want to protect yourself:

  • Sit comfortably and breathe deeply.
  • Visualize yourself surrounded by an orb of white light and love. See that it’s only you within this circle, and nothing can get to you.
  • You can practice “wearing” the orb throughout your day, and before you deal with people/situations/places that drain you. The visual will let love and light come through while fending off and releasing any energy that’s not serving you.

3. Affirmations are a great way to change your mindset and help you stay focused on the positive. Here are a few to use:

  • I release any and everything that does not serve me.
  • I release all fear, anxiety, and overwhelm.
  • I let go of all negativity from my mind and body.
  • I easily let go of thoughts and beliefs that disempower me.
  • I release anything, any person, and any situation that keeps me from moving forward.

4. Crystal healing. Over the past few months, I’ve really been into learning more and using crystals for my mental and emotional wellness. One of my favorite crystals for getting rid of negative energy and feeling more positive is smoky quartz. Other crystals to try:

Black tourmaline absorbs negative energy and turns it into positive energy, provides energetic protection, and helps with stress relief.

Selentine cleanses and purifies your energy and provides protective energy.

What do you do to cleanse energy that’s not serving you? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

“Today is your day to let go of things that no longer serve you.”


Black Girl's Guide to Calm

10 Black Women Who Can Help You Find Your Calm

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of the resources provided here at Black Mom’s Guide to Calm that help you find your calm (if you’re not, click here and here). And of course, I’m not the only one who can guide you; there are some other dope ass Black women out here provide products, services, and resources to make sure we’re calm, centered, cared for, and mentally well.

In honor of Black History Month, here are 10 Black women who can help you find your calm:

1. Dianne Bondy is a celebrated yoga teacher, social justice activist, and leading voice of the Yoga For All Movement. With over 1,000 hours of training, she helps her students find freedom, self-expression, and radical self-love in their yoga practice. Dianne shares her message and provides millions of followers with affordable access to online yoga classes, workshops, and tutorials at her virtual studio: Yogasteya.com.

2. Itiel McVay is the founder and owner of Smell Good Spa, purveyors of fine fragrance oils and hand-dipped incense sticks that blend creativity and wholesome ingredients together. It is the company’s belief that a whole woman deserves wholesome products; therefore, each raw-ingredient based bath, body, and home fragrance product can be customized with their signature scents, creating an aromatic spa-at-home experience for the woman who loves to live good, feel good, and smell good.

3. As The Body Relationship Coach™, Ivy Felicia helps people build a loving relationship with body and self. She is passionate about helping individuals learn to embrace the bodies they have right now and supporting them in learning to love themselves no matter what. Through her brand, Me, My Body, and Love, Ivy promotes body peace and provides empowerment, education, and encouragement for those who seek to embrace a body positive lifestyle by loving their own bodies and extending the same love and acceptance to others.

4. Created by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed psychologist in Georgia, Therapy for Black Girls is an online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls. Because the stigma surrounding mental health issues and therapy prevent Black women from taking the steps to see a therapist, Dr. Joy developed her blog to present mental health topics in a way that feels more accessible and relevant. Her primary areas of interest include break up and divorce recovery, depression, work-life balance, relationship skills, and self-esteem improvement.

5. Dr. Nadia Richardson is the founder of No More Martyrs, a mental health awareness campaign committed to building an online community of support for Black women with mental health concerns. By bringing together organizations from across the country that focus on the holistic wellness of Black women, the campaign serves as a clearinghouse of resources for living successfully with mental health concerns as well as virtual support for Black women who believe they are facing these issues alone.

6. Founded by Dr. Shanesha Brooks-Tatum, the Life Balance and Wellness Institute, Inc. (formerly the Black Women’s Life Balance and Wellness Conference) supports Black women in their quest to live well and thrive. Their mission is to provide evidence-based tools and facilitate dynamic, creative relationships that support women in achieving and maintaining optimal wellness in all areas of life including physical, financial, spiritual, occupational, social, and emotional.

7. Suntia Smith, MSW,LISW-CP, is a licensed clinical social worker and therapist based in Greenville, SC. She uses proven emotion-focused techniques and cognitive behavioral methodologies to help her clients deal with everyday life and relationship struggles better. By taking a positive, proactive, and practical approach to emotional well-being, Suntia teaches others how to develop a stronger sense of self, so they can love deeper and live lighter.

8. Created by Tara Pringle Jefferson, the Bloom Beautifully Box hits women’s doorsteps every eight weeks, full of self-care goodies in the following categories: beauty, health/wellness, and personal development. Tara created the box because she knows just how difficult it can be for women to focus on themselves during the years where their time and attention is often required by someone else — their boss, their children, their family. She wants each box to feel like a deep exhale, a fresh reminder that while you are many things — an entrepreneur, a stay-at-home mom, a student– you are still you underneath it all.

9. Tracey Coretta Ferdinand is a writer and certified 200 hour vinyasa yoga teacher. Her writing inspires lifestyle transformations guided by self-love and self-care, and her mission is to encourage women and girls of color to live vibrant and healthy lives by exploring creative wellness practices.

10. Vernetta R. Freeney is the creator and producer of the podcast “A Toast to Truths” and founder of The Truth Confidant™, a training firm specializing in teaching mental detox as a way to increase your productivity and have peace each and every day of your life. Her assignment is to curb burnout for entrepreneurs, teachers, and corporate employees by teaching journaling as a daily mental detox to ensure productivity and creativity.

 

Creating Self-care and Calm Intentions for the New Year: 6 Things to Do

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Happy New Year! I hope your 2017 has gotten off to an amazing start. If you’re reading this, you probably already have set some goals for the year. But do you have self-care and calm intentions? Wait, what does intention even mean? An intention is “to have in mind a purpose or plan, to direct the mind, to aim.” (healing.about.com) Having them helps us stay focused and on the right track with what we desire.

Why set intentions specifically related to calm? They will help you:

  • live from a space of peace
  • practice mindfulness and stay in the moment
  • stay calm and centered more often than not
  • create inner peace and contentment

With that said, here are five steps to create your own for 2017:

1. Get clear about what you want/need in your life. When it comes to finding your calm and practicing self-care, do you want to start a yoga practice pr meditate regularly? Or maybe you want to stay calm in stressful situations, get more sleep, or have more time to yourself. If you’re having trouble figuring out what you want and need so you can live from a space of peace, take a moment to get quiet, and ask yourself, ‘What do I need?’, then journal about it. Just write whatever comes to mind until you feel you have your answer.

2. Write it down. After you know what you want and need, write it down. As Erykah Badu said, “Write it down on real paper with a real pencil. And watch shit get real.”

3. Write affirmations. According to Chicken Soup for the Soul co-creator Jack Canfield, “an affirmation is a statement of your goal or desire now realized in the present time.” They are statements you can write down/record, then repeat and/or listen to regularly so you bombard your subconscious mind with the thoughts, images, and feelings you’d be experiencing if your goal was complete already.

Your affirmations should be positive and in present tense. For example, “I am calm and centered,” or “I choose to practice self-care daily.” Here are some to choose from or to draw inspiration from.

4. Schedule it. If your intentions include specific practices like yoga, meditation, reading more, or exercise, write down the days and even times you’ll practice in your planner or calendar, or create a reminder on your phone. That way, you’re more likely to stick with what you want to do.

5. Start small. Doing this will help you stick with your intentions as well. If you try to do too much too soon, you might get overwhelmed and give up because it seems difficult. So, for instance, if you want to start a home yoga practice, consider starting with a few stretches in the morning and/or before you go to bed or doing a five or 10 minute sequence. If you want to begin meditating consistently, start with 10 deep breaths or a 1-2 minute meditation daily.

6. Find tools and resources to help you stay on track. YouTube is a great place to find meditation music and yoga videos. You can also use a resource like The Black Girl’s Guide to Calm Experience for tools that will help you find your calm.

 “Stress is not what happens to us. It is our response to what happens. And response is something we can choose.” – Maureen Killoran

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Black Mom's Guide to Calm

 

 

Why I Started Going to Therapy (and Why I’m Glad I Did)

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Although it’s still somewhat taboo, I’ve always been an advocate of mental health care and therapy. In the Black community, therapy has been seen as what “crazy” or White folks use — not us. We’re supposed to utilize prayer, the church, and Jesus.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with praying, going to church, or Jesus (or whoever your deity is), but sometimes, you might need something more. And I realized that was true for me almost two months ago.

As many of you know, I started teaching yoga in-person this fall because 1. The opportunities basically fell in my lap; and 2. It’s what I thought I wanted to do. At first, I was excited about this new venture and stream of income, but as time went on, I’d have no one or only one person show up for classes. Needless to say, it was pretty discouraging. But being someone who typically sees the bright side of things and keeps a positive attitude (for the most part), I really tried to keep the faith and continue promoting and showing up. It wasn’t working. I ultimately had a breaking point, which led me to an emotional breakdown. I had been feeling really depressed about this, and it all just came out one Friday night. As I lay in bed, after crying my eyes out, I decided to look up local Black therapists because I knew that I couldn’t continue doing this to myself, and I didn’t know how to pull myself out of the muck. The first therapist I contacted didn’t reply, so the following week, I contacted another and set up my first appointment with Suntia Smith in Greenville (who I highly recommend).

Although I’ve only been to two sessions so far, it’s been amazing and eye-opening. While I’ve always been introspective and have become more self-aware through meditation, I just couldn’t figure out what to do about my work situation (actually, I knew what to do; I just didn’t want to do it because I didn’t want to let anyone down). Anyway, talking to Suntia and answering her questions in that first session helped me realize that teaching yoga on a weekly basis wasn’t something I truly wanted to do (on the other hand, I do love doing retreats and workshops on occasion), and the reason why is I enjoy freedom, which is something I’d never really thought about before. And that session helped me get crystal clear on what I want to do with the Black Girl’s Guide to Calm brand.

In addition to admitting that I was still trying to be a people-pleaser, I also recognized that I wasn’t being my authentic self, both of which came as a bit of surprise to be quite honest (haha). This year has been the most transformational one I’ve ever experienced, starting with me uncovering my spiritual beliefs. This came up when Suntia asked me who I really am after giving her the surface answer: I told her I am sensual, fun, have great sense of humor, into the “woo woo” stuff, meaning crystals, chakras, incense, sage…you know, my version of spirituality that a lot of people consider “woo woo.” But I’d been hiding that part of myself, particularly on social media. Now, you might be saying, “Why does that matter? Everyone doesn’t need to know what you believe.” Well, I’ve been blogging for 8 years, and I’ve been pretty transparent about my life and my faith the entire time on my blog and on social media. So, why would I speak on that then and not speak on my beliefs now?

The reason I didn’t really allude to my spirituality is because I was worried about what the people who know me in real life would think about my beliefs. However, that cognitive dissonance (me wanting to just be myself and share vs. me not wanting to ruffle feathers) caused a lot of stress and anxiety for me. And I also realized that this inauthenticity (is this a word?) shows up as me shrinking myself, not allowing myself to shine too brightly (because, for one, I’ve always heard some variation of “She thinks she’s all that!”). For example, I enjoy makeup and playing around with different looks, but I wouldn’t wear certain lipsticks because I didn’t want to draw too much attention to myself; or I don’t share my business offerings and my story as much as I should because I don’t want to be “pushy” or seen as someone who thinks she’s all that.”

Thankfully, because of therapy and Suntia in particular, I am in a  place of not giving as much of a fuck (because, at the moment, I still give somewhat of one lol) about people’s opinions of me. I feel like I wouldn’t have gotten to this place of self-acceptance, authenticity, and freedom without outside sources– or I wouldn’t have gotten here so quickly.

I want to encourage you to seek professional help if you feel you need it and/or if you’re dealing with anxiety or depression. While I do feel that practices like yoga and meditation are amazingly effective tools, like I mentioned in the first paragraph, sometimes, a therapist, coach, or counselor is necessary. And even if you don’t have a mental illness, it can still be helpful to get an outside, objective perspective on things so you can move forward. To find a Black therapist in your area, check out the sites below:

African American Therapists

Black Counselors

Black Therapist Network

Have you been to therapy? What was your experience like? Also, if you’re a Black therapist reading this, feel free to link to your site below! : )

 

20 Affirmations for Calm and Inner Peace

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

If you follow me on social media, you probably know that I post an affirmation every Friday related to finding calm and/or self-care.  Affirmations are a great way to not only create calm but to also change your mindset so that you’re calm and peaceful more often than not.

Success coach and co-author of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series Jack Canfield says an affirmation is a statement of your goal or desire now realized in the present time. They’re statements you can write down or record then repeat/listen to regularly so you bombard your subconscious mind with thoughts, images, and feelings you’d be experiencing if your goal was complete.

With that said, here are some affirmations that will help you find your calm and inner peace:

  1. I let my worries go so I can be here for the beauty that surrounds me now. (Mary Davis)
  2. Today, I take a moment to press pause, get quiet, and simply breathe.
  3. When stressful situations occur, I remember that it’s possible to choose peace over worry.
  4. I let go, and allow the Universe to do her thing. (Gabrielle Bernstein)
  5. Today, I choose serenity.
  6. I am centered, I am calm, I am at peace.
  7. I make my calm and serenity a priority.
  8. Today, I relax and flow.
  9. I choose to experience life in a calm manner.
  10. I let go of all negativity that rests in my mind and body. (Louise Hay)
  11. It’s okay to make myself a priority.
  12. I relax, knowing that everything will be okay.
  13. I got this.
  14. I inhale peace and exhale overwhelm.
  15. I focus on the thoughts that bring me peace and joy.
  16. It is easy for me to tap into my inner peace whenever I need to.
  17. I deserve calm and self-care.
  18. My stress and tension melt away with each deep breath.
  19. I stay focused on the present moment, which brings me peace.
  20. I create my own calm.

Like these affirmations? Download this printable PDF or save it to your phone.


 

 

#CalmTip: Protect Your Peace.

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

The result of this year’s election has a lot of us feeling anxious, fearful, on edge, a swirl of various emotions. It’s definitely warranted and necessary to process whatever we feel. And during — and after — you’re working through your feelings, I think it’s super important that you protect your peace.

That doesn’t mean you need to be totally oblivious to what’s going on, ignoring it, or pretending to be super happy. It means just doing what you need to do to stay centered and grounded. With that being said, here’s what I did the past couple of days to make sure I maintained and protected my peace:

  • Social media break. I did make the mistake of getting on Facebook early Wednesday morning, but I ended up taking a break from there and Instagram until Thursday evening.
  • Read. I read some good, drama-filled urban fiction.
  • Meditated with/carried crystals. If you want to do the same, here are some suggestions:

For calm/peace —  amethyst, rose quartz.

To ground yourself — black onyx, smoky quartz, black obsidian

To boost your mood — citrine, rose quartz, yellow jasper

By the way, I’ve gotten a few crystals from ThirdEye Naga.

  • Deep breathing.
  • Yoga.

Some other ideas:

  • Journal and get your feelings out.
  • Go to the gym/work out.
  • Smudge yourself/your space.
  • Chat with a friend.
  • Laugh.
  • Watch some ratchet TV (don’t judge lol).

“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” – Unknown

What do you do to protect your peace? Let us know by leaving a comment!

Stress Less By Standing In Your Truth

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Earlier this year, I turned 30. It’s been a year of growth, transition, and awakening. And I’ve learned that a big part of stress is not standing in your truth. Let me explain…

For the past month or so, I’ve been mulling over a situation related to my brand/work (I’ll probably do a post about it later). Just thinking about it and trying to figure out what to do had me so stressed and even made me feel depressed, and it was affecting every part of my life. I was trying to figure out why I was feeling the way I did, and that — along with some other personal things — made me seek out a therapist (I’ll be doing a post about that, too).

Ultimately, I already knew what to do (thanks to my intuition/Higher Self). I was being stubborn,  and I wanted to explore why I felt the way I did because I was unsure of the reason. After the session, I understood my feelings, and I also realized that I haven’t been standing in my truth. And that was a big part of my stress!

Then, I received several messages from Goddess about standing in my truth and doing what’s best for me, like this from my Facebook friend, Takeallah:

“…I stick out. And I’m fine with that…You take this Black Girl Magic and ALL of its glory. You don’t get to pick and choose which components you wish to take and which ones you wish to leave behind or altar.”

And this from another FB friend, Valerie, who shared an Iyanla Vanzant quote:

“Speak the truth to yourself about what you feel, about what you need, about what you see, about what you want. So many of us don’t tell ourselves the truth. We don’t speak the truth in our spirits. And then we can’t understand why there’s so many dishonorable things going on in our lives. This is about you and your voice and your truth.”

And this post I saw on Instagram:

If you’re not excited about it, it’s not the right path.” – Abraham Hicks

So, if not standing in your truth is causing you to feel stressed and disconnected from yourself, here’s what you can do:

  1. Figure out what your truth is. What you really want, what you really believe, and what you really value. (Meditation and journaling help with this).
  2. Be okay with your truth within yourself. Be honest with yourself.
  3. Live your truth. This looks different for all of us; for me, it includes: saying Goddess/Spirit/the Universe instead of God; doing what’s best for my business and myself/my sanity; being confident in being a spiritual-empathetic-sensitive-goddess-warrior-woman-healer-entrepreneur when there aren’t a lot of people like me where I live (I’ve been fortunate to find a few, though!).

So, I’ve made the decision to stand in my truth. And no, it’s not always easy. But I’d rather have the difficult conversations or feel uncomfortable for a moment than to continue living a lie and being unhappy and overwhelmed. Life is too short and too valuable to be anything other than true to yourself and happy.

“When you show up authentic, you create the space for others to do the same.

Walk in your truth.”


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#CalmTip: Ground Yourself

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Grounding is a technique that helps keep you in the present moment. It’s a way of practicing mindfulness and can be helpful when you feel overwhelmed or anxious.

Here are a few methods you can use to ground yourself:

One

  • Look around the room, noticing your surrounding and details.
  • Hold a pillow, stuffed animal, or ball.
  • Hold something cool (like a can of soda) or place a cool wash cloth on your face.
  • Listen to soothing music.
  • Place your feet.
  • Focus on someone’s voice or a neutral conversation.

Two

Name:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can feel
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste or 1 good thing about yourself

Three

Walk outside barefoot for a few minutes, in the grass if possible.

Four

  1. Place your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lean back into your chair, and notice how the chair feels underneath you and against your back.
  3. Cross your arms over your chest.
  4. Gently tap each shoulder, one side at a time. If you’re in public, you can place your hands on your thighs and tap on each thigh, alternating sides.

“Get yourself grounded, and you can navigate even the stormiest roads in peace.” – Steve Goodier

Do you have another grounding technique you use? Did you try one of these? Let us know by leaving a comment! : )

Sources: peirsac.org, drcordes.com


Black Girl's Guide to Calm