5 Ways to Find Calm During the Holidays

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

The holiday season is here, which can bring an added layer of stress and overwhelm to our already chaotic lives. Fortunately, there are things you can do and methods you can use to bring more joy (and peace) to your world:

1. Use calming practices daily.

Practicing yoga, meditation, or just taking a few deep breaths and saying some affirmations can go a long way when it comes to beating holiday stress (and stress in general, of course). Taking just 5 or 10 minutes in the morning and/or before you go to bed can work wonders.

2. Listen to your body and practice self-care.

If you feel yourself becoming more fatigued or feel like you’re about to get sick or burn out, listen to your body’s message and slow down or take a break. Even better: Take care of yourself before you even get to that point. Some suggestions:

  • Try to get seven to eight hours a sleep a night (or take a nap).
  • Try to eat well, and stay hydrated.
  • Schedule some downtime in your planner/calendar.
  • Spend some time by yourself.
  • Unplug from social media for 30 to 60 minutes (or a whole day!).
  • Put space between things. In other words, instead of rushing to the next task when you finish one, take a little breather. Then focus on what’s next.

3. Do your best.

Don’t allow people, consumerism, social media — or even yourself — make you feel like you have to buy your children dozens of presents or the latest gadgets to be a great parent. Also, don’t feel like you have to be the most creative Pinterest mom or like you need this grandiose, picture perfect Christmas morning.  Do what you’re able to do, and be at peace with that. I promise, everything will be amazing regardless!

4. Participate in fun family activities.

Since you’ll likely be spending more time with your children because they’ll be out of school, this is a great opportunity to not only have fun and spend some quality time with them, it’s also a chance for you to unwind a bit. You can:

  • Take a ride to look at the Christmas lights.
  • Watch some of the Christmas movies you loved as a kid.
  • Make ornaments or a gingerbread house.
  • Bake cookies or make hot chocolate.

5.  Be present, go with the flow, and be grateful.

No matter where you are or what you’re doing, do your best to be mindful and in the moment. Don’t let your to-do list keep you from enjoying whatever is happening. Also, choose to focus on the positives and all the moments and memories you’re creating.

How do you maintain calm and peace during the holiday season? Leave a comment below!

Tap Into Your Inner Peace: 8 Quotes for Inspiration

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Even as the Calm Coach, I have moments I need to tap into my inner peace. As I’ve mentioned here on the blog and on social media, my husband and I are separated (it’s not a terrible thing, btw), my daughter and I are back at my parents’ house, I’m working on myself, and I’m growing my business and getting my finances together. Needless to say, the past few months have been particularly stressful and overwhelming for me.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to stay (relatively) sane, calm, and centered with various practices like yoga, meditation, mindfulness, practicing self-care, and affirmations. If you find yourself feeling stressed or overwhelmed, here are a few quotes that will inspire you to find your calm:

  1. “Your calm mind is your weapon against your challenges. So relax.” – Bryan McGill
  2. “Relax. Everything is running right on schedule.” – The Universe
  3. “Slow down. Calm down. Don’t worry. Don’t hurry. Trust the process.” – Unknown
  4. “If the ocean can calm itself, so can you. We are both salt water mixed with air.” – Nayyirah Waheed
  5. “The day she let go of the things weighing her down, was the day she began to shine the brightest.” – Katrina Mayer
  6. “Everything you do can be done better from a place of relaxation.” – Stephen C. Paul
  7. “Quietness with thoughtful reflection and relaxation can be empowering.” – Cynthia Wright
  8. “Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. You are doing just fine. You’ll be just fine. It will all get done, whatever it is. You don’t need to stress. You just need to relax, trust, and take it all one slow step at a time.” – Lori Deschene

Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you to find calm? Please share by leaving a comment!

 

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

#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.

Sign up here to get weekly tips for creating calm in simple ways.

[Video] You CAN Meditate (I Promise!)

In this video, I’m sharing the top two reasons I hear why people don’t think they can meditate — and why those reasons aren’t true! Even you — yes YOU — can meditate…promise. And you totally need to. Watch the video to see why and how to begin.

 

3 Breathing Techniques for Stress Relief

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

One of my favorite (and probably easiest) ways to create calm is breathing. I know, you might be thinking, Uhhh, I breathe all the time, and I don’t feel any calmer. What are you talking about?

Well, to use your breath as a method to create calm, you have to breathe effectively. But before I tell you some ways you can do so, here are a few tips:

  • If possible, get somewhere that’s quiet and distraction-free.
  • These can be done with your eyes opened or closed (but obviously, if your eyes are going to be closed, don’t drive or operate heavy machinery or anything like that). Sit up with your spine straight.
  • You can also listen to some music to help you focus better. Search for meditation music or relaxation music on YouTube, Google Play, etc.
  • You can practice the techniques until you feel more relaxed.

Now, on to the three breathing techniques to try when you need to de-stress, relax, and find some calm.

 

1. Deep Abdominal Breathing (or, how you’re really supposed to breathe all the time.)

  1. Exhale all your breath, gently bringing your belly button back towards your spine.
  2. Inhale, puffing out your belly. Gently bring your breath up through your rib cage, then your chest.
  3. Slowly start to exhale, reversing the process. Exhale from the chest, allowing your rib cage then your belly to gently go down.

2. Equal Breathing

Use the same breathing technique as above. Count to four as you inhale, then count to four as you exhale.

3. Alternate Nostril Breathing

  1. Make a gentle fist with your right hand. Extend your thumb and last two fingers, leaving space for your nose.
  2. With your thumb, close off your right nostril, and exhale through your left.
  3. Using deep abdominal breathing, inhale through your left nostril then close it off with the last two fingers, and exhale through the right nostril.
  4. Continue by inhaling through your right nostril, closing it off and exhaling through the left.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until you feel more relaxed.

 

“Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

 


Discover breathing techniques, various ways to meditate, and more in BeCalm Bootcamp: Meditation for Beginners! Click below to get all the details; we start August 15th.

Stress Relieving Yoga Sequence

As I’ve mentioned many times on this site, yoga is an awesome way to relieve stress. It can also enhance your mood, bringing you joy and happiness, and well-being.

With that being said, here’s a yoga sequence you can do when you need to relieve stress. And if you’re interested, you can get the printable here (or just right-click to save).

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

 

Enjoy! xoxo

 

#CalmTip: September, 29th, 2015

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, being physically active is considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can also reduce stress, making it a great way to find your calm. Studies show that it’s very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be really helpful when stress has drained your energy or ability to concentrate.

You don’t have to join the gym or spend two hours per day exercising (unless you want to). You could take a 20 or 30 minute walk after work, go for a bike ride, or work out at home with exercise DVDs or YouTube videos (I’ve used Blogilates, FitnessBlender, and HangTightWMarC). Figure out what you like, and get moving!