7 Ways to Improve Your Emotional Wellness

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

According to the University of California (Davis), emotional wellness “involves the awareness, understanding, and acceptance of our feelings.” It’s a key element in maintaining a healthy balance in our lives and our relationships.

Of course, maintaining emotional wellness has its benefits: It can lead to success in work, relationships, and health. When you’re emotionally healthy, you’re also in control of your emotions and behavior; you’re better able to handle life’s challenges, you develop strong relationships, and are able to rebound from setbacks.

Being emotionally healthy also means you have:

  • A sense of contentment
  • A zest for living and are able to laugh and have fun
  • The ability to deal with stress
  • A sense of meaning and purpose (in both your activities and your relationships)
  • The flexibility to learn new things and adapt to change
  • A healthy balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc.
  • The ability to develop and maintain fulfilling relationships
  • Self-confidence and high self-esteem

How to Improve Emotional Wellness

Just like you work to improve your physical health and wellness, you should work on bettering your emotional wellness as well. In fact, taking care of your body is a great first step towards emotional health since, of course, the mind and body are linked. Exercise strengthens your heart and lungs while also releasing endorphins, a chemical that energizes us and lifts our moods. Other ways you can take care of your body (and by extension, your mind) include getting enough sleep and eating well.

And here are seven ways you can improve your emotional wellness:

  1. Learn or discover something new. You could take an adult education class, travel somewhere new (it doesn’t have to be far), or visit a museum.
  2. Enjoy art or nature. Check out a local art show, or take a walk through your neighborhood or a park.
  3. Manage your stress levels, and limit unhealthy mental habits like worrying. Practicing mindfulness and meditating are great ways to lower stress levels and help you worry less.
  4. Do work that’s meaningful and/or creative. This doesn’t have to be something you’re paid to do; it could be drawing, painting, knitting, or gardening.
  5. Take time for leisure. Watching a movie, reading a good book, talking to a friend, and listening to music are a few ideas.
  6. Practice gratitude. Take some time to focus on what’s good in your life.
  7. Connect with others. Ways to do this: Spend time face-to-face with loved ones; volunteer; join networking or other special interest groups in your city.

When to seek help

Below are red flag feelings/behaviors that might need immediate attention:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Concentration problems that interfere with your work or home life
  • Feeling down, hopeless, or helpless most of the time
  • Using nicotine, drugs, alcohol, or food to deal with difficult emotions
  • Negative or self-destructive thoughts or fears you can’t control
  • Thoughts of death or suicide (if you’re experiencing this, please call this number: 1.800.273.8255).

If you identify with any of the above, consider making an appointment with a mental health professional.

“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 Manfiesto

How do you make sure you’re emotionally well? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Source; Photo Credit (123rf.com/Michael Simons)

P.S. — Join me on Periscope (@blackgirlcalm) for my new series!
Periscope #MeditationMonday

Uproot What You’re Hushing With Affirmations

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

By Trelani Michelle

When I learned about affirmations, I felt like I was falling apart. From my finances to my beef with my supervisor to the disconnection with my partner and my son acting out in school, I was all over the place.

So learning that repeating certain phrases would rewire my subconscious and turn what I was saying into my reality seemed the perfect solution. Where do I sign up?

It didn’t take long to realize what was happening though. And it wasn’t necessarily trial and error because I’ve never doubted the power of affirming. I just realized that trying to talk over my problems wasn’t solving them. Reminding myself that I was healed and empowered every time the memory of molestation resurfaced wasn’t helping the issue. Or saying that my marriage was alive and well when it was simply not the truth. I was ignoring my termite problem by repainting the shutters.

Can you relate?

The issue or the hurt doesn’t have to be totally resolved in order for your affirmations to be made true, but work has to be in progress. The affirmations should serve as the faith behind the work.

The law of attraction calls for focus. In order to manifest your desires, you have to set your intentions, be specific in your requests, and maintain positive energy around it. If you are affirming instead of addressing what happened (or what might happen), then you can’t focus on that because you’re still mentally and emotionally, and maybe even physically, occupied by something else.

So when my thoughts aren’t where I want them to be, instead of hushing my problems with affirmations, I ease my way into the water by first considering if the issue is of the past or future. Both of them require gardening. You have to dig up all of your stuff, through the days, months or years, in order to get to the root of the problem. How so?

Go back to what happened.

Let it replay in your mind step-by-step. Recall your role in it, how it made you feel, and how you’ve been reacting according to that feeling since then. If others were involved, consider how their behavior influenced that feeling. Did you ever tell them? At this point in your life, do you desire to?

Now consider what you can do right now to feel better about the situation. Once upon a time, that meant writing my mother a letter. I didn’t send it to her right then and there, but getting it all out and speaking up for myself made me feel better. In another instance, finding a therapist who I felt could best understand me was my action step. Then other times, it’s as simple as verbally releasing it, reminding myself that it’s done and there’s nothing I can do about it but react differently in the future.

I have a bad habit of worrying. I get it from my mama (and her mama). Ain’t nothing even happen yet, but I will stress to no end about it if I don’t catch myself. Worrying about what might happen causes anxiety like a mofo, and affirmations are really helpful in redirecting your thought in these cases. However, sometimes it’s rooted a little deeper. Worrying that you’ll be betrayed or that you’ll soon go without or that you’ll be disliked or anything along those lines is a fear that’s usually based on something that happened a while back. Explore that possibility, and if you find that it is, then go back to what happened using the prompts above.

These questions are tools of self-exploration, which is the practice of considering what you do, what you think, how you feel, and then why you do, feel and think those things. Healing is a domino effect: Once one falls over, it’s like your subconscious is alerted that you’re ready for the next experience, and that can be exhausting. However, being the best damn you that you can possibly be depends on this work, which is why it’s the heart of my upcoming book, Women Who Ain’t Afraid to Curse When Communicating with God.

It’s a 31-day self-study guide of writing prompts, meditations and personal stories to support you in uprooting whatever is distracting you from tapping into your full power and potential. Interested? Learn more and order your copy by clicking here: http://bitly.com/spiritspeaks

 

 

                  11870717_10153032245272548_7478323016631293998_n                      Trelani Michelle was the girl beneath the covers with a flashlight and a journal. The teenager who documented her tragedies as poetry. The college student who experimented with erotic short stories. Now an author and Spiritual Writing Coach, her passions are novel writing, blogging, and teaching others how to explore and express their experiences through writing. Get to know her better at SoFundamental.com and on Instagram @Trelani_Michelle.

20 Quotes That Encourage Self-Care

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

 

One of the best ways to find your calm is to practice self-care. As women, many of us have the tendency to make sure everyone around us is taken care of before we worry about ourselves. And some of us don’t think about ourselves and what we need until we experience burnout or get sick. So before you get to that point, it’s important that you make self-care a priority. Of course, there are many ways to care for yourself — meditation, yoga, hitting the gym, reading a book, doing absolutely nothing — whatever it is, make sure you do something just for you at least once a day.

Still not convinced? Hopefully, these quotes will encourage you to make that time:

  1. “Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brownn
  2. “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde
  3. “Saying no can be the ultimate self-care.” – Claudia Black
  4. “If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?” – Maya Angelou
  5. “Before anything (or anyone) else, make sure you are taking care of yourself. If you are not treating yourself well on the inside, you will not be healthy or happy on the outside. Self-care is essential to your wellness.” – Healthy-chicks.com
  6. “Self-care is never a selfish act — it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.” – Parker Palmer
  7. “Today do something for you: Relax, clear your mind, take a break, go for a jog, watch the sunset. Enjoy the simple things. Enjoy you.” – Brooke Griffin
  8. “It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.” – Mandy Hale
  9. “Remember to be kind to yourself.” – Unknown
  10. “Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the way you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.” – Deborah Day
  11. “When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” – Jen Shinoda Bolen
  12. “For those of you who struggle with guilt regarding self-care, answer this question: What greater gift can you give to those you love than your own wholeness?” – Shannon Tanner
  13. “Occasionally indulging a do-nothing day is more than worth the price.” – Malcolm Forbes
  14. “Sometimes the most urgent and vital thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest.” – Ashleigh Brilliant
  15. “Everyone should take time out once in a while to recharge and revitalize their energy.”  Michael Lee
  16. “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” – Ovid
  17. “You have to learn to say no without feeling guilty. Setting boundaries is healthy. You need to learn to respect and take care of yourself.” – Powerofpositivity.com
  18. “Self-love is asking yourself what you need — every day — and then making sure you receive it.” – Chooseselflove.com
  19. “Self-care is an act of self-love.” – Unknown
  20. “It does not do any good to be a rundown martyr. Strive to lead by example and become a model of healthy, vibrant self-care!” – Dr. Carla Marie Greco

Take care of you because you deserve it!

 

Photo Credit: luminastock/123rf.com

6 Resources I Use for Finding Calm

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Since this site and brand are all about helping you find your calm, I wanted to share some resources I use that help me stress less and/or find calm:

1. Yoga By Candace is my go-to virtual yoga teacher. I practice yoga almost every day, and if she’s not doing a monthly yoga challenge, I just choose a video from one of her playlists. Candace also has videos for beginners, and she breaks down many yoga poses. Oh, and she just release a free app, too.

2. Zen Habits. Created and (mostly) written by Leo Babauta, this is one of my favorite blogs for inspiration on simplifying my life and mind.

3. Calm is an app I recently found out about from my friend, Dea Winn (founder of Pretty Girls Rock Dresses). I actually just downloaded it a couple of days ago. The app has options for you to watch/listen to certain scenes while you meditate (like the ocean or rain), it has a timer, guided meditations, and a seven days of calm program.

4. Another meditation app I’ve used is Meditation Helper. If you want to practice meditation without music or sound, this app has a timer so you can put any amount of time you want to meditate.

5. Affirm Your Life is another site I love. On it, Che Garman has probably hundreds of quotes and affirmations for whatever life situation you might find yourself in. I’ve written down and use many of the affirmations she’s shared.

6. Smell Good Spa offers incense (among other things) that are great for making your home smell amazing and for use when you’re meditating or relaxing.

Honorable Mentions (i.e., other sites I love):

Do You Yoga

See Body Love Self

Radical Selfie

What resources (blogs, apps, websites) do you use for finding calm? Let me know by leaving a comment!

 

Photo via 123rf/Pavel Timofeev

18 Inspirational Quotes for Creating More Joy and Peace

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

As much as I want to feel peace and joy 24/7, obviously, there are times I don’t. If I’m feeling sad, angry, frustrated, etc., I do let myself feel what I feel and work through my emotions. At some point, though, it’s time to move on to how I really want to feel: peaceful, calm, and joyful.

If you want to do the same but just can’t seem to do so, these quotes might help:

  1. “You don’t have to do it all.” – Unknown
  2. “Stress makes you believe that everything has to happen right now. Faith reassures you that everything will happen in God’s timing.” – Spiritual inspiration
  3. “Take your pleasure seriously.” – Charles Eames
  4. “Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now. And that’s a revelation for some people: to realize that your life in only ever now.” – Eckhart Tolle
  5. “Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” – Marianne Williamson
  6. “You cannot breathe deeply and worry at the same time. Breathe. Let the worry go. Breathe. Allow the love and intuition in.” – Sonia Choquette
  7. “Stop overthinking; you’re only creating problems that aren’t there.” – Kushandwizdom
  8. “Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” – Dalai Lama
  9. “Be mindful of the future…but not at the expense of the moment.” – Qui Gon Jinn
  10. “Ego says, ‘Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel peace.’ Spirit says, ‘Find your peace, and then everything will fall into place.'” – Marianne Williamson
  11. “Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.” – Unknown
  12. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” – 1 Peter 5:7 
  13. “Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God.” – Robert Schuller
  14. “There is no joy without gratitude.” – Brene Brown
  15. “Joy is being able to see God’s goodness even when life is hard and messy.” – iBloom.com
  16. “We have to choose joy and keep choosing it.” – Henri J.M. Nouwen
  17. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6,7

 

The Importance of Self-Care

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

 

Ever since I became a mama back in 2013, I’ve realized how important it is to take care of myself. And if you’re reading this, I’m sure you can relate: With all of our roles and responsibilities as women, it can be difficult to find — or should I say make — time for ourselves. What I’ve learned is that while people love and care about you, they, more than likely, aren’t going to make sure you make you a priority. You have to do that yourself, or it won’t happen. You also have to learn that you can’t give to and care for your family, clients, etc. if you’re depleted with nothing left to give.

I learned this the hard way after burning myself out a few times and just feeling extremely frustrated with how things were going in my life. I now know that if I don’t make sure I’m taken care of — spiritually, mentally, physically — I can’t do my best. So, I’ve made a commitment to putting myself first and taking care of me. Of course, as with all things, some days are better than others, but I see that when I make an effort to take care of myself, I find that I’m much more at peace and am better able to handle the curve balls throughout the day.

If you feel like you don’t have time to take care of yourself, I encourage you to remember this quote from Eleanor Brownn:

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

 

 

How to Create a Gratitude Journal (and Why You Should)

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

 

I can’t remember when I first heard of gratitude journals, but I started keeping one back in 2008. That year, I’d graduated from college and had really gotten into reading self-help books, which is where I learned about the power of gratitude, affirmations, visualization, and the Law of Attraction. So, I started writing down five things I was grateful for every day. And while there are sometimes I forget or am tired, I now write in mine every night before going to bed.

Why should you keep a gratitude journal?

  • A gratitude journal helps you keep things in perspective. It allows you to see that no matter how bad things may be right now, they could be worse, so you always have something to be thankful for.
  • It encourages you to begin looking for the positive throughout the day.
  • A gratitude journal puts you in a positive mood. After a while, you begin to see all the good you have in your life — big and small.
  • It helps you not take the little things for granted. You’ll have those days when nothing seems to be going right, and you can’t seem to think of anything to be thankful for. That’s when you dig deep, and think about the fact that you have breath in your body, some food, clothing, shelter, a family, etc. — the things you usually forget about because they’re always there.
  • According to an article on Forbes.com, gratitude can help you sleep better and increase your mental strength.

How to Keep a Gratitude Journal

Find a journal. Or notebook. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy (unless that’s your thing). I’ve found cute journals at TJ Maxx, Ross, Citi Trends, and even Dollar General. There are also apps you can use (the one I currently use is simply called Gratitude Journal. 

Set aside time to write in it. I like to write in mine before I go to sleep (it’s part of my nighttime ritual), but you can write in it whenever you want. I suggest writing in it right when you wake up or right before you go to sleep since it’s easier to remember to do it.

Write down three to five things you’re thankful for. Usually, I like to think about things that have happened during the day that I’m thankful for, but sometimes, I write about the things I might take for granted like my family or having a bed (especially for those long days when I can’t wait to crawl in it).

Gratitude should not just be a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good, even in unpleasant situations. Start bringing gratitude to your experiences, instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful.” – Marelisa Fabrega