How to Take Care of Your Mental Health in Stressful Times

We’re dealing with some stressful and overwhelming times at the moment. In this video, I’m sharing 10 ways you can take care of your mental health and find calm in this chaos. Plus, I do a brief guided meditation.

Just to give you a quick overview, the ways are:

  1. Practice mindfulness (live in the moment).
  2. Practice self-care.
  3. Use affirmations.
  4. Take a digital break.
  5. Develop a (loose) routine.
  6. Journal.
  7. Go with the flow.
  8. Be gentle with yourself.
  9. Allow your best to be good enough.
  10. Breathe/meditate.

For products to help you find and maintain your calm, visit the Black Mom Calm Shop.

How to Stay Calm During COVID-19 Crisis

If you’re someone who already deals with anxiety and overwhelm regularly, then the recent news of COVID-19 might have you stressing and freaking out.  I know it may be challenging, but it’s important to stay calm and at peace for your own mental/emotional/physical well-being.

With that said, here are some ways to stay calm (by the way, these are techniques that’ll work for your child(ren) too!):

Breathe.

Taking deep breaths is the simplest, most effective way to tap into your inner peace. As you go throughout your days (and especially when you feel stressed), be aware of how you’re breathing (is it shallow from your chest or deep from your belly?), and if you’re not already, take a few deep breaths. Here’s how:

  • Inhale fully and deeply through your nose, filling your belly with air like a balloon as you count to 5.
  • Exhale deeply through your nose, counting to 5, allowing your belly button to go back towards your spine.
  • Repeat 5 to 10 times or until you feel calmer.

Meditate.

Meditating on a regular basis — even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes a day — assists greatly in staying calm and centered. A few tips for a simple meditation.

  • Find a quiet, distraction-free space (if possible).
  • Sit comfortably in traditional meditation style, in a chair with your feet flat on the floor or kneel.
  • Sit with a straight spine, close your eyes, and bring your palms to face up or down on your legs.
  • Breathe fully and deeply (see above), allowing your body and mind to relax. When thoughts come to you, let them float on by then bring your awareness back to your breathing and the present moment.
  • Use a timer, app or videos on YouTube if needed.

Practice self-care.

While I don’t think we should be panicking about the virus, I do think it’s important to take necessary precautions and take care of ourselves. This includes:

  • Listening to your body.
  • Protecting your peace and energy.
  • Getting the rest you need.
  • Seeing a physician if you need to.
  • Eating well.
  • Staying hydrated.
  • Listening to medical professionals.

Focus on the good/practice gratitude.

When much of the world is freaking out and (intentionally or not) creating a sense of fear, it’s easy for us to internalize these messages and let them affect our thoughts and what we focus on. What you give your attention to expands. So, to feel more peace and joy right now, do your best to find the positive in all situations. Focus on the big and little things that bring you joy, and notice the things you have to be grateful for in this moment.

Take a break from social media/the news.

Spending too much time scrolling through social media and watching the news can cause you to feel more anxious, overwhelmed and fearful. If you want more calm, take some time away from all the noise. Take a media break for a few hours, a weekend or a week, and/or consider limiting the amount of time you spend on it daily.

Focus on what you can control. 

Fretting about what you can’t control does nothing to benefit you and only increases your stress levels (which can also suppress your immune system). Instead of worrying about what might happen or what could happen, breathe, allow yourself to be in the moment, focus on what you can do and trust that Spirit’s got you.

Want to learn more about ways to find your calm? Download your copy of the ‘The Black Girl’s Guide to Calm book!

Finding Your Calm During Life Challenges

life challenges

Trust me, I know it can be difficult dealing with life challenges Like you, I deal with parenting woes, financial stuff from time to time, relationship stuff, feeling discouraged and the list goes on. And when ish happens, it’s easy for me to get stressed, overwhelmed and to start worrying and overthinking (maybe you can relate?). 

Fortunately, I’ve learned how to find calm in the midst of life’s curve balls (even though I sometimes have to remind myself to stay calm). And by doing so, I’m able to find my inner peace and get grounded and centered. These are some of my practices:

I breathe (literally).When I notice that my mind is racing with stressful thoughts, I pause and take 5 deep breaths or breathe until I feel calmer.

How to do it: Inhale through your nose, filling your belly with air like a balloon. Exhale through your mouth, creating a small o, and allow your navel to go towards your spine. Repeat 5 times or until you feel more relaxed.

I do my best to stay in the present moment. Your mind cannot occupy two thoughts at the same time. So if you find that your mind is filled with the stress of the future, bring your focus back to the moment; the more often you do this, the calmer you’ll feel.

How to do it: Take a moment to observe everything around you without judgement. Become aware of what you hear, smell, see and what you can feel. Also, single-task, focusing only on what you’re doing.

I meditate and/or do some yoga. Meditation is something I do daily, and because of it, I tend to worry a lot less than I used to, and I feel lighter and more at ease overall. Additionally, when I need some extra grounding, I get on my mat for some yoga. 

How to do it: Take time daily, or a few days a week, to meditate and/or practice yoga. All you need is 10 or 15 minutes per session

I do something to take my mind off of whatever I’m worrying about. I definitely believe you have to deal with whatever is happening in your life and your feelings, but sometimes, you just need to put your worries on the back burner for a little while. A couple of ways I do this are by reading or listening to a podcast or music. 

How to do it: Do something you enjoy that allows you to concentrate on something different for a bit.

I journal. When I find myself overanalyzing and worrying about a situation, I find it helpful to write it all down so that, for the most part, I get it out of my head and clear my mind.

How to do it: Write down whatever comes to you about your circumstances. Don’t worry about how it sounds, and don’t hold back. Get it all out.

I use affirmations. Whether we realize it or now, we’re constantly talking to ourselves, and the things we say have a big impact on our lives and how we feel. When I’m in the middle of a challenging moment, I sometimes find myself thinking negatively about myself and/or my life. To counter this, I recite affirmations which brings a sense of relief, calm and positive energy. 

How to do it: Say affirmations when you feel your thoughts going in a downward spiral of negativity. Some of my favorites:

  • Life is conspiring in my favor.
  • All is well in my world.
  • I choose to trust my journey.
  • Spirit has my back.
  • I got this.

I focus on the good. In challenging times, it’s easy for me to go down the rabbit hole of all the things that are supposedly wrong with me and my life which, of course, only makes me feel worse. So, in addition to keeping a daily gratitude journal, when I notice I’m doing this, I think of what I’m grateful for and even say it out loud. 

How to do it: Start keeping a gratitude journal, and write down 5 things you’re thankful for daily. Or, when you find that you’re focusing on everything that’s wrong, change your perspective, and list or say all the things you’re grateful for.

How do you find inner peace when dealing with life challenges? Or which of these will you try?

Top 5 Lessons I Learned in 2019

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

  1. I am enough and so worthy. I realized that there’d been many experiences in my life that caused me to feel unworthy and not good enough (religion and divorce to name a couple), and I’d often act in a way I thought I “should” or not speak my truth to try to prove myself and my worth to others. Although I still have to remind myself of this, I now know that I’m inherently worthy and enough, simply because I’m here and I’m a child of the Divine.
  2. I will get to the other side; this, too, shall pass. When you’re in the middle of a stressful situation, it can feel like it’s never going to end. But even when you think it’s taking a long time (too long), things will eventually improve, and you’ll move through whatever life circumstances you might currently be in. Things will get better.
  3. You can make a different choice. A lot of times, we feel like we have to always be the person who everybody knows us to be and do the things that we’re known to do — because that’s “who we are” or what we “should” do. One thing I realized this year is that if I want to be different/want my life to be different, I can literally just make a decision to do something else, and that’s okay (and often necessary)! I have the right to choose who and what I become.
  4. Self-compassion is necessary. I have the tendency to beat myself up about my failures, disappointments and mistakes. This year, I’ve learned to be compassionate with myself, give myself grace and allow my best to be good enough. I’m going to make mistakes and fvck up sometimes, but I have to be gentle with myself and take life a day at a time.
  5. Be at peace with where you are. Of course, I set intentions and create goals for my future, but life only happens in the present moment. And if you want to have peace, joy and contentment in your daily life, I believe you have to have some level of peace with where you are in this moment as you pursue/manifest your intentions and goals. Breathe, practice gratitude, be where you are joyfully while you go forward.

What lessons did you learn in 2019? Leave a comment below to let me know or send me an email.

5 Ways to Take Care of Yourself Physically

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

September is Self-Care Awareness Month! Each week, I’ll be sharing tips that will help you take better care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Here are a few ways to practice physical self-care:

  1. Move your body. My favorite way to do this is yoga, of course, but some other ideas are walking a few days a week, hitting the gym or using workout videos on YouTube (a couple I really enjoy: Blogilates and HangTightwMarcie.
  2. Stay hydrated. Drinking enough water keeps your blood pressure regulated; it also keeps your skin moisturized and boosts your mood, concentration and energy levels.
  3. Get enough sleep. I know it’s often easier said than done, but try to get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night. This allows you to be (and feel) well rested, more productive, improves your mood and concentration, plus lowers your risk of serious health issues like heart disease and stroke.
  4. Eat more healthful foods. Incorporate more fruits and veggies, whole grains and limit your salt and sugar intake.
  5. Take breaks more often. Trust me, I get it: You’re busy, and you have a lot going on. However, if you don’t take time for breaks, your body will decide to do so for you: You’ll get sick or experience burn out. So make time for at least 5 to 15 minutes a day to just breathe and be.

Using Crystals to Find Your Calm

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

“[Crystal healing is] a wonderful tool for finding your own spiritual, mental, and emotional empowerment so that you, too, can lead a life that truly invigorates you and brings you joy.”– Karen Frazier

Used for healing purposes for thousands of years, crystals each have their own individual energetic properties that can help you mentally, emotionally, spiritually and even physically.

I first learned about crystals at my friend, Trelani’s writing retreat back in 2016. Since then, I’ve become kind of obsessed with loved them! If you know me IRL or seen pics on social media, you know I wear a stack of crystal bracelets, and you might have seen me mention that I carry them in my bra and purse/bag. I also use crystals often when I meditate and when I’m doing some visualization.

So How Do They Work?

If you’ve studied the Law of Attraction, you know that everything has energy and vibrates at a certain level. Our vibrations can differ daily (or even hourly) depending on factors like our moods, emotions, circumstances, etc. Generally speaking, when we vibrate at a lower frequency, we often get to not-so-great situations where things seem to just keep getting worse. However, higher vibes help us create more positive changes.

Crystals, on the other hand, vibrate at a consistent level, and because of how they’re structured, most of them “vibrate at relatively high levels.” So, using crystals can help us vibrate at a higher frequency, so to speak, lifting our moods, focusing our minds, and manifesting what we want.

Crystals for Calm

There are crystals for just about every issue you can think of, and these are just a few that will help you overcome your overwhelm, stress less and find calm:

Amethyst helps relieve stress, protects against negative energy, helps provide restful sleep, encourages spiritual growth and helps you tap into your intuition.

Howlite calms and soothes, relieves stress and anxiety, assists with meditation, balances your chakras and teaches patience.

Smoky Quartz absorbs negative energy while increasing positive energy, helps ground you and allows you to feel more balanced and centered.

Clear Quartz is known as the master healer, assisting with all types of healing; it increases energies, provides protection and holds your intentions.

Selenite cleanses and purifies your energy, provides protection from negative energy, assists in balancing your emotions and helps you connect to the Divine.

Rose Quartz strengthens all types love, promotes joy and emotional healing, instills calm and peace and helps raise self-esteem.

Ways to Use Crystals Include

  • Wearing jewelry like bracelets, necklaces, earrings.
  • Keeping them in your pocket, bra or purse .
  • Placing them in various areas of your home and/or work space.
  • Using them to enhance your spiritual/mediation/visualization practices.

Check out the Crystals for Calm Bundle in the Black Mom Calm Shop!

Moving Through Overwhelm

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

I have to admit, I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed with life lately. In the past few weeks, I was in a car accident (no one was hurt, thankfully, but I was driving my parents’ car). After that, I ended up getting my own car (yay!); however, the process of getting there was a little stressful since I had to rearrange my schedule to look, sign papers, etc. Additionally, I’ve been feeling like I’m behind on my business-related work, dealing with issues with my ex more recently (Venus retrograde, perhaps?), and just day-to-day life.

During this time, I’ve really had to remind myself and practice staying calm, at peace, grounded and centered.  And I say remind myself because even as the calm coach, I, too, have to remember to practice what I preach: Peace is a choice, and it’s up to me to actually do the things that bring me peace because my inner peace is inside of me, no matter what’s going on around me. With that said, here are some of the things I’ve been doing, just in case you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, too:

1. Pause and breathe.

If you’re anything like me, when you’re stressed, you can find yourself overthinking and overanalyzing things, which — of course — leads to more stress because you’re probably thinking of all the things that might go wrong. Or, you’re obsessing over your to-do list, wondering how it will all get done.

When you have these moments, stop (and you can do like I do sometimes and literally tell yourself to “stop” out loud). Bring yourself back to the present moment, and take 5 to 10 few deep breaths. As you inhale, fill your belly with air like a balloon and count to four. And as you exhale, bring your belly button back towards your spine, counting to four.

2. Release any physical tension. 

As you may already know, we often physically hold on to stress, and it’s usually unconscious — we don’t realize we’re doing it.  Most commonly, we hunch our shoulders by our ears, clench our jaw, furrow our brows.

So, when you notice that you feel overwhelmed or stressed, take a moment to scan your body, starting at the top of your head and going down to your feet. As you do this, breathe deeply and note if you’re tense in any area of your body; if you are, relax that area. (This is also a good practice to get in the habit of doing regularly).

3. Stay present and focused.

Like I mentioned before, thinking too much about the future is a big cause of our overwhelm (trust me, I know). Being mindful and staying present, brings you inner peace, improves your mood, reduces anxiety, and brings emotional balance.

Some ways to practice mindfulness are:

4. Practice gratitude. 

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to have a “woe is me” attitude and feel sorry for yourself, like nothing is going right. Taking time to focus on the positives in your life and what you have to be thankful for brings you more joy, calm, and contentment. A couple of ways to do this:

  1. Start a gratitude journal, and every day, write down three to five things you’re thankful for or positive things that happened during the day.
  2. When you feel stressed, take a couple of minutes or so to write down everything you can think of that is going well for you.

5. Choose a different thought and affirm.

It’s challenging to just change how you feel from one minute to the next, especially when you have a lot going on. But, one (relatively) simple way to start feeling better is to choose to think differently (because generally, our emotions come from our thoughts). Again, you can literally tell yourself to “stop” when you feel yourself going down the path of thoughts that don’t serve you. Then,  bring your awareness to what’s actually going on in the moment. You can also use affirmations or reminders to shift gears. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • All is well.
  • Trust the process.
  • Focus on one thing at time.
  • Life/Spirit/God/the Universe is conspiring in my favor.
  • Everything is working for my good.
  • I got this.

Do you have another suggestion you would add? Do any of these resonate with you? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

6 Journal Prompts For More Calm

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

One of my favorite ways to find calm and practice self-care is by journaling. I usually either do a brain dump when I have a lot on my mind, or I write to process my emotions when I’m feeling overwhelmed, anxious, sad, frustrated — any emotion that I feel I need to work through. Additionally, I write what I’m thankful for and my intentions for the day every morning.

Journaling is definitely something I recommend everyone do, at least occasionally. Why should you? It:

  • Increases your focus.
  • Allows you to process the things happening in your life.
  • Helps you heal from the past and mentally/emotionally.
  • Allows you to express yourself freely.
  • Helps you solve your problems.
  • Creates clarity and helps you become more self-aware.

Using prompts is a method you can use to begin or enhance your journaling practie. Below are six that will help you create more calm, joy, and positive energy:

  1. I’m thankful for ____ (set a timer for 2-3 minutes, and list as many things as you can think of).
  2. I am lovable because ________.
  3. What are the ways I like to (or would like to) practice self-care?
  4. 3 simple steps I will take to find calm are _________.
  5. What makes me happy?
  6. What’s something positive happening (or something positive that’s recently happened) in your life?

A few more journaling ideas:

  • Your goals/intentions.
  • How your ideal life looks
  • Your bucket list
  • Where would you like to be in one year? 5 years?

Journaling is a voyage to the interior.– Christina Baldwin

Happy writing! ❤

Resource

10 Affirmations for Your Root Chakras

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

Chakras refer to the wheels of energy throughout our bodies in yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda. There are seven main chakras that align the spine, starting at the base and through the crown of your head. Because they affect our psychological, emotional, and spiritual states of being, it’s important that the chakras stay open, fluid, and aligned.

The root chakra is located at the base of your spine and consists of the things that ground you to stability in your life. This includes your basic physical needs (food, water, shelter, safety) and your emotional needs (like moving past fear and worry).

When your root chakra is unbalanced, you might feel:

  • “out of it”/like your mind is all over the place.
  • anxious or worried.
  • unworthy.

When the root chakra is balanced, you feel:

  • stable.
  • secure.
  • trusting (of yourself and your Higher Power).

One way to heal your chakras is through affirmations, and here are 10 that will help:

  1. I feel safe and secure.
  2. I am grounded.
  3. I trust life, and I trust myself.
  4. I am open to all possibilities.
  5. I trust in the goodness of life.
  6. I have the right to be here.
  7. I am centered.
  8. I am exactly where I need to be.
  9. Life is conspiring in my favor.
  10. I live in an abundant universe.

You can repeat these whenever you feel the need, or you can use one (or more) while meditating.

Tap Into Your Inner Peace: 8 Quotes for Inspiration

 

inner peace quotes

Even as a teacher of calm, 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!