5 to Days to More Calm: Self-Care

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

Today’s topic for 5 Days to More Calm is self-care!

First, we’ll start with a definition. The Oxford Dictionary defines self-care as “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”

Many times, when people talk about self-care, it’s related to things like getting our hair and nails done, going to get a massage or going on a vacation. While there’s nothing wrong with doing these things (and they are a part of taking care of you), self-care is much more than that.  It’s about making sure you’re doing/feeling good and thriving physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. But as women/mothers/caregivers, it’s often challenging for us to actually practice self-care. Many times, we:

  • Feel we don’t deserve it.
  • Feel guilty about doing it.
  • Think we can’t make time.
  • Feel that we don’t have enough resources to do so.

Why is self-care important?

  • It can improve your physical health.
  • Improves your emotional wellness.
  • You feel better and are less likely to experience burnout.
  • It helps other people (and yourself) see your worth and know your needs are important because you’re putting you first
  • You’re better able to take care of your children and others because your cup is full.
  • It allows you to better deal with stress.

Here are various ways to practice self-care:

Spiritual

  • Pray/speak with your Higher Power/ancestors.
  • Spend time alone.
  • Try crystal healing.
  • Create a sacred space.
  • Practice gratitude.

Emotional

  • Acknowledge how you feel.
  • Journal (about your feelings).
  • Find positive outlets/hobbies.
  • Get support by talking to someone you trust or trying therapy.
  • Try to avoid people/situations that trigger not-so-great feelings.

Mental

  • Be in the present moment.
  • Meditate.
  • Use positive affirmations.
  • Take a social media break.
  • Visualize.

Physical

  • Move your body.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Get enough sleep..
  • Eat more healthful.
  • Take breaks more often.

If you’re ready to up your self-care game and create more calm and inner peace in your life, check out Black Mom’s Calm subscription offering! You can get access to guided meditations, monthly chats, personalized affirmations and more! Learn more and sign up here.

 

4 Ways to Love Yourself and Find Your Calm

Learning how to find your calm is a great act of self-love. Why? Because it means you’re taking care of you!

In this video, I share 4 ideas for finding and maintaining your calm as an act of loving yourself. Get into it, and let me know what you think.

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.

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

Trusting the Process of Life

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

As I mentioned on social media a few weeks ago, I’ve been dealing with some personal issues. My husband and I are currently separated. And while I was hurt and taken aback by the way it happened, I’m not totally surprised by what happened because we’d grown apart and had our issues (and I’d actually been going back and forth with it myself).

Due to our separation, my daughter and I have been staying with my parents for almost two months, and needless to say, it’s been an adjustment. It’s been…interesting, to say the least, because although moving back had crossed my mind, I didn’t think I’d actually have to do it — and definitely not now. So, basically, I’ve had to create a new normal and trust whatever comes next.

I believe that everything happens for a reason and things happen when they’re supposed to, even when it doesn’t feel good or necessarily make sense to us. Admittedly, it took me a really long time to learn this (maybe it’s one of those things you learn after 30?), but now that I know — for sure — it’s true, I generally go with the flow of whatever happens in my life. Trust me, it hasn’t been easy, but here’s how I learned to do it:

  • I constantly remind myself that I can’t control everything. I’ve pretty much always been someone who likes for everything to go exactly how I envision. And when it doesn’t, I had the tendency to kind of freak out about it. But getting older — and having a child and life itself — has helped me really see that I can’t control everything. And that’s okay.
  • I focus on what I can control, and take inspired action. Here’s what I mean by taking inspired action: Instead of acting from a space of desperation and lack, I listen to my intuition and Higher Self about what steps I should take next, even if Spirit tells me to be still.
  • I (do my best to) stay present. Practices like meditation and yoga have helped me learn how to be more mindful in my daily life and focus on what’s happening now.
  • I practice gratitude and look for the good. When we have situations that are less than favorable, we tend to focus on how much it sucks, and notice the other things that suck, drawing more sucky things to us. On the flip side, when we focus on the good (either in the situation or in general), not only do we feel better, we also attract more good to us.
  • I reflect on other situations where the Universe had my back. If you’re like me, you’ve made it through other times when you didn’t know how the hell you would. And you’ll do the same now!

Trust the Universe (or your Higher Power) and the path you’re on. Life loves you and is always conspiring in your favor! Know it with every fiber of your being!

Affirmation:

I choose to trust the process of my life.”

 


Black Girl's Guide to Calm

 

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

 

 

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.


 

 

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.

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