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

Dear Black Woman

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Dear Black woman,

Growing up, you probably heard that you needed to be a “strong Black woman,” or you heard your mama, aunts, grandmas, etc. described that way. And now, as an adult, you probably feel at least some pressure to be super woman and do it all — smoothly and with a smile being a mom and/or partner, working, cooking, cleaning, volunteering, taking care of your loved ones, not to mention dealing with societal issues like racism and sexism. You don’t stop to take a breath, to take a minute for yourself, because you don’t have make time. Deep down, you might feel like you don’t deserve to truly take care of yourself or you feel that someone has to do this stuff (and it has to be you, right?). I mean, who the hell is going to take care of everything while I’m chillin’? 

First, I want you to close your eyes, and take a deep breath: Inhale slowly. Exhale slowly. Now, hear me when I say this:

It is okay for you to be calm, centered, and cared for. It is NECESSARY for you to be calm, centered, and cared for — if you want to feel good, whole, at peace. And you DESERVE IT.

Let me ask you this: Does it feel good to be stressed out, burned out, frustrated, overwhelmed? I mean, yeah, you might be “making it” and “surviving,” but don’t you want to thrive? I know we, as Black women, are pretty much pros at keeping a survival mentality, of having just enough and saying things like, ‘Well, it’s not that bad; I’m still here,’ or ‘Things could be worse,’ or ‘It is what it is.’ Yes, you’re still here, and things could be worse, and you should be thankful for that. However, I don’t think that means you can’t or shouldn’t strive to live a life where you’re happy and calm most of the time. The late Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” So yeah, you can continue on the path you’re on, barely making it, always feeling stressed and on the verge of burning out. But wouldn’t it feel better to choose differently, to live from a space of peace and have joy?

You might be saying, “Yes, Jamie, what you’re saying makes sense, and that would feel better. But how do I live from a space of peace and have more joy? How do I become calm, centered, and cared for?

  1. Decide that you want something different, and commit to doing it. Write down what you want, and make a plan.
  2. Determine what your stressors are so you’ll know what areas you can control and can’t control. (Here’s a worksheet for you).
  3. Make the practices that keep you calm and centered a daily habit. Examples include meditation, deep breathing yoga, and practicing mindfulness.
  4. Seek out resources and even professional help if you need it.
  5. Learn to surrender and go with the flow when it comes to things you can’t control.
  6. Practice gratitude.
  7. Make self-care a daily practice.

These are just a few general tips to help you get started. And if you have questions, I’m here.  : )

“True and lasting inner peace can never be found in external things. It can only be found within. And then, once we find and nurture it with ourselves, it radiates outward.” – (attributed to) Buddah 


If you’re ready to stress less and create more calm, my book, The Black Girl’s Guide to Calm Experience shares practical tools that will help you find your calm and peace in your crazy, chaotic life. Click here to learn more and download.

If you need one-on-one assistance with creating your Stress Less Strategy, contact me.

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#CalmTip: Let Go and Allow

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

As most of ya’ll probably know, I recently started teaching yoga locally. While it’s been going okay with one or two students at one place, at another, no one signed or showed up. Now logically, I know I shouldn’t take it personally, and I know that it takes time to build a new business and to get clients (because I’ve been there myself). However, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me and that I wasn’t disappointed. And because my tendency is to over-think and wallow in what ifs, I was racking my brain, trying to figure out what I did wrong and what I should do next. As I was mulling it over, I remembered the affirmation I’d recently shared on social media: I let go, and allow the universe to do her thing. 

This is my go-to mantra (I repeat it at least once a day), but it’s often easier said than done. If you’re like me, you’re so used to just trying different stuff to see what sticks that it’s hard to step back, surrender, and just allow things to happen and come to you. Now, that’s not to say that action doesn’t have its place; however, 1) We need to utilize the feminine energy of allowing and receiving; and 2) When things don’t go how we’d like and/or we feel like we’re losing control (as if we ever had control in the first place, but I digress), we likely start to panic and feel desperate, and that’s not the best energy to act from. Because it often doesn’t work anyway or you make decisions that aren’t necessarily the best.

Instead, I believe the best thing to do is to let go and allow the Universe/Spirit/God/Goddess/Your Higher Self to do her/his/its thing. Sometimes, that means literally doing nothing about the situation. And it might mean taking inspired action, meaning listen to what you should do next, then doing something. This usually shows up as your intuition or that gut feeling. (This is one reason why meditating and being mindful are important, so you can hear).

Finally, whatever the action is, it’s important to remember that what you desire may not manifest overnight; and you might even end up going in a different direction. Either way, it’s important to trust the process and trust in Divine Timing.

“What’s the rush? Everything is coming to you. Don’t put an end date on everything. Just let the Universe yield it to you, because if the path is a fun path, you don’t care how long it takes.” – Abraham Hicks

On Doing What You Need to do to Be Good as a Mama

Black Girl;s Guide to Calm

As many of you know, I attended The Self-Care Retreat (#HereWeGrow16), which was created and is hosted by Tara Pringle Jefferson. The main reason I went was to lead yoga and meditation, but I ended up actually learning a lot.

One of the points both speakers made was the idea of not doing things just because our mamas did it or because society (or the community) tells us we should. In the Black community, we  — women — are told that we can and should handle everything ourselves, and if we do get any help, it should be as little as possible and only every once in a while. As we discussed this, one of the attendees mentioned how surprised she was when she first heard that White women had housekeepers — and they didn’t have children at the time! And another one of the attendees, who sat at my table, told us that last year’s speaker talked about outsourcing her laundry and actually ended up creating a laundry service, and she told us that she, herself, has a nanny for her daughters.

What was so amazing to me wasn’t the fact that she had a nanny; it was the fact that she was so unapologetic about it. She said something to the effect of she’s doing what’s best for her as a mother. When I got home and started thinking about the retreat (since I wanted to write a post about it), I realized that while I’m doing what’s best for me by letting Nailah stay with my parents a few days a week, I still feel guilty about it at times. But I now understand there’s nothing wrong with doing what’s best for me because 1) I can’t really get any work done while she’s here; 2) When she’s not with them, I’m with her pretty much 24/7; 3) That means I need some time for me (sorry not sorry).

If you’re a woman of color reading this, I encourage you to do what you need to do to be a happy, sane, calm, [insert positive adjective here] mama. This might mean getting outside help, like hiring a nanny, a housekeeper, or sending your laundry out. It might mean getting the people in your village to help you, or talking with your significant other about helping out more. Whatever you need to do, do it, regardless of what the community, your family, or society tells you that you should do.

I’ll leave you with this:

“Mothers, a car can run on fumes for only so long. It needs to be refilled or it will stop running all together. You as a mother can’t continue to be everything to everybody, eventually you will break down. You need to take time for yourself, to rejuvenate, to make sure YOU are not lost while trying to hold everything together.” – journeysofawoman.com

“Taking care of yourself is part of taking care of your kids.” – Cafe Mom

#CalmTip: Make Sure Your Cup Overflows

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

As many of you know, this past weekend, I attended the 2016 Self-Care Retreat (#HereWeGrow16) in Virginia Beach, which was hosted by Tara Pringle Jefferson, self-care coach and creator of The Self-Care Box. I attended to lead meditation and yoga, but I ended up learning a lot (blog post about the amazingness coming soon)!

In the first session, Tara suggested that instead of filling our cups just enough, just so we can give to others, that we allow our cups to overflow. That way, when we give from the overflow, we’ll still have something left for ourselves, and we won’t be drained, burned out, frustrated, etc.

After her talk, she had us come up with 20 things that fill our cups (without thinking too much about it) and we posted our lists in our phones so we’d have the lists whenever we need them. For this week’s #CalmTip, I’m encouraging you to try it yourself and create your own Fill My Cup list: Use your note app (or an app like Evernote) and take about five minutes to write down 20 things that make you happy or that you can do to practice self-care. When you finish, you’ll have several activities to choose from when you need them and/or to practice daily (or at least a few days a week) to make sure you’re good. A few of mine are:

  1. Yoga/meditation.
  2. Listening to the 2 Dope Queens podcast.
  3. Reading.
  4. Lifting weights at the gym.
  5. Watching ratchet TV.

What are some of the things on your “Fill My Cup” list? Let me know by leaving a comment! 🙂

“My cup should overflow.” – Tara Pringle Jefferson