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.

20 Ways to Find Your Calm in 2020

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

Happy 2020! A new year is here, and if one of your intentions/goals is to have less stress and more inner peace in your life (and honestly, it totally should be), I got you!

But before I get into the tips, finding your calm:

  • Boosts your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health.
  • Can help reduce anxiety and depression.
  • Improves your focus and concentration.
  • Helps improve relationships (including with yourself).
  • Stabilizes your mood.

Now, here are 20 ways to tap into your inner peace this year:

  1. Meditate. Taking a few minutes a day (5 or 10 minutes) to get still and breathe can work wonders for your calm.
  2. Practice yoga. Start your own home practice with the help of YouTube or check out a class at a local studio (Check out Yoga Green Book for black-owned studios).
  3. Be in the present moment. Ideas for this: do nothing; focus on one task at a time; practice conscious listening when having a conversation.
  4. Relax. Catch up on one of your shows, read a novel, take a nap.
  5. Practice self-care. Do something every day to make sure you’re taken care of physically, mentally, spiritually and/or emotionally.
  6. Protect your peace. Whenever possible, eliminate the things that cause you to feel stressed, overwhelmed and/or anxious.
  7. Be grateful. Do your best (especially in moments of stress) to focus on the good in your life.
  8. Embrace where you are. You’re right where you need to be.
  9. Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to be human. Treat yourself like you would your child and/or best friend.
  10. Use affirmations. The words you say to and about yourself greatly impact you and your life, so speak on what you want to manifest and create.
  11. Journal. Writing down how you feel is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety. Also, keeping a gratitude journal helps increase your calm and positive energy.
  12. Trust your journey. Know that the Universe/Spirit/your Higher Power has your back. Always.
  13. Protect your energy. Some ideas: spend time with high-vibing individuals; speak your truth; surround yourself (energetically) in a protective bubble of white light; consume media/social media that’s uplifting.
  14. Focus on what you can control. Don’t stress yourself about things you can do nothing about. Instead, focus on what you¬†can do and maintain your calm.
  15. Learn what your stressors are. When you know what’s actually stressing you, you’ll know whether you can do something about it (like get rid of it or make necessary changes) or if you need to be more intentional about creating calm practices.
  16. Try aromatherapy. A few scents that help bring inner peace are lavender, lemongrass and sandalwood.
  17. Use crystal healing. Great crystals for finding your calm include amethyst, smoky quartz, blue lace agate and howlite.
  18. Spend time with friends + loved ones. Do something fun with your girls, your kid(s) or your significant other.
  19. Slow down. All the things that you’re trying to do aren’t going anywhere, and you’re not in a race. Keep calm and take your time.
  20. Take deep breaths often. “Deep breaths are like little love notes to your body.” – Unknown

How will you find your calm this year? Choose two or three to focus on, then go from there. ūüíô

How to Stop Overthinking and Trust the Process

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

I’ve pretty much been an overthinker for as long as I can remember. And although I’ve gotten better at not doing it as much as I used to, I still have my moments. For example, last week I was feeling kind of discouraged about my business for a number of reasons (which is totally normal, by the way. But I wasn’t making as many sales as I wanted, Aunt Flo was visiting i.e., hormones, and maybe a little Mercury Retrograde was affecting me).

One day, on my way to work, I was listening to the Being Boss podcast about fear I think, and one of the hosts, Kathleen, mentioned that she’d gone to see an energy healer. She shared that her main takeaway from the experience was to focus on what, not how. And while it was a lightbulb moment for me, it was nothing that I hadn’t heard before, so it was a reminder of something that I had forgotten. The Law of Attraction essentially says that you should simply focus on what it is you desire, NOT¬†on how it’s going to come to you. Like, I KNOW this is true; but sometimes, when you’re in it, in life, you forget the truth and what you know.

I think part of the issue was me thinking about all the things I want to accomplish in my business, how I could (or would) do it, how much time it would take and how much I time I felt I would need, and feeling like I’m “behind.” And another huge issue was me spending waaay too much time on social media, comparing my life and journey to other people’s. Ultimately, I came to the realization that I was overthinking — and that’s why I’d been feeling discouraged and stressed and overwhelmed. So, here’s what I did — and am doing — to combat that habit in the moment (and these are in no particular order):

Stop. 

When I notice that I’m overthinking, I will literally tell myself to stop — and sometimes I even say it out loud. Then, I choose a different thought, a more positive one that will better serve me.

Breathe.

I pause and take a few deep breaths. This allows me to calm and center myself. Breathing also puts things back in perspective, meaning it helps me remember that I’m exactly where I need to be and that all is well.

Affirm.

To get my mind back on a more positive track, I say a few of my favorite affirmations like:

All is well.

I trust in Divine Timing.

Trust the process.

The Universe has my back.

Everything is happening how it’s supposed to.

I got this.

Stay present.

Bring my focus and attention back to the present moment does a few things: 1. I feel more centered and peaceful; 2. I am better able to focus on the task at hand, which allows me to actually get shit done; 3 Being in a peaceful, contented, grateful state of flow magnetizes my desires to me.

Get inspired.

Listening to podcasts from women entrepreneurs has become one of my favorite things. Not only do I get tips for growing my business, being more productive, etc., I am also inspired by the stories I hear that show me I can do this, too.

Do a brain dump.

On days that I feel overwhelmed, I take out my journal, and write down everything that comes to me: what I’m thinking, how I’m feeling, and even any solutions that pop into my head. When I do this, it feels like space is cleared in in my mind, so to speak. Then, I can focus on actually doing what I need to. And speaking of doing what I need to…

Take inspired action.

When I overthink and start stressing myself out about not being “there” quickly enough, my natural inclination is to just try everything and do all this stuff to make shit happen and happen more quickly. What I’ve learned is that doing things out of desperation or fear never works. However, when you listen to Spirit and your Divine Guidance for what to do next, that’s when the magic happens.

Realize the things I’m thinking haven’t actually happened.

Another point brought up on the podcast was the fact that most of the things we’re fearing or worrying about hasn’t even happened! Basically, we’re worrying about situations and worst-case scenarios that are literally just in our minds. This is where being present and mindful comes into play.

Pay attention to signs from the Universe.

I’m a believer that the Universe sends us messages in various forms to remind us of what we need to know. Interestingly, as I was scrolling Facebook the morning I started this post, I came across two statuses that confirmed the importance of trusting the process:

“You cannot get to the end from the middle. No matter what we are doing, there is a process. When we rush ahead we miss important steps. If we become impatient, we can overlook details. We must be willing to move step by step, inch by inch to get to the end.” – Iyanla Vanzant

“Do not put a timeframe on everything. Instead enjoy each step. Accept the fact that your objectives can only be accomplished one at a time. Trust comes from understanding the plan of success…” – Frank Matias

Realize this is YOUR journey.

One of my overthinking and worry triggers is comparing myself and my life to other people’s. What I have to remind myself is that this is MY path, and that everyone else is on their own path. I have to focus on me and what I was put here to do, and stay in MY lane.

“Stop overthinking. You can’t control everything. Just let it be.” – Unkown

5 Ways to Find Calm Through Life Transitions

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

So, I recently decided to find a part-time job after years of only working from home, and I completed my first week last week. Of course, I still have my motherhood duties and my business, plus all the day-to-day things. Needless to say, it’s been a hectic week, and I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed by things.

Because I’m a recovering perfectionist and control freak, I felt like this adjustment process should have been easier for me and that I should have been able to get everything done for the day in spite of the fact that 1. I now have fewer hours to do things in; 2. Life — and children — don’t always adhere to the plans in your head or on paper; and 3. It’s only been a week. That’s 7 days. Still, I’ve been beating myself up because I haven’t been able to do all I want when it comes to working on my business and spending time with Nailah (enter more mommy guilt). And I haven’t figured out a schedule that works yet.

Thankfully, though, this process has been another great reminder in learning how to stay calm in the midst of life’s changes. Here’s what is working for me:

  1. Practicing mindfulness. Most of my feelings of stress and overwhelm comes from worrying about what’s not getting done or what I have left to do — and feeling like I won’t be able to get it done (which is also a waste of valuable time). I’ve been more intentional about staying in the present moment and concentrating on one thing at a time, which allows me to focus and feel more at ease.
  2. Making sure I practice my morning routine. This consists of meditating, reading/reciting my affirmations (with crystals), writing what I’m thankful for and my daily intentions, and pulling a card from my Womanifesting Fertility Goddess Affirmation Cards. Yes, I now have to get up a bit earlier to get it done before my daughter wakes up, but I can definitely tell the difference when I don’t do it (it’s not good). So, to make sure I stay relatively calm, centered, and grounded, I make sure I do these things.
  3. Being gentle with myself. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been beating myself up about things. Therefore, when I feel that negativity trying to creep in, I remind myself that it’ll take some time to get acclimated to this new normal and to just focus on doing my best.
  4. Creating a (rough) schedule for my days/ week.¬†Adding a job to the mix has helped me see that my days weren’t super structured before. However, I see why they should be: My days will likely go more smoothly, and I won’t feel as overwhelmed because I’ll know what days I do certain things. For example, I’ll choose one day to write, one day to create social media posts, etc. I’ll also stop adding too much to my to-do/intentions list.
  5. Allowing myself to be where I am. I think this is the biggest one for me. I tend to be someone who focuses on the future and lot and where I want to be (like I mentioned in this post). Planning and thinking of your future isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but it can become an issue when you’re always wishing things were different or you were somewhere else than where you are now. The present moment is all there is, so I have to allow myself to simply be here, work with what I’ve got, and make the most of now.

“Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges.” – Bryant McGill

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!

 

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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Confession: I Still Struggle With Mommy Guilt

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

This week has been a little…hectic. For the past few days, I’ve been attempting to upload, edit, and put together yoga videos recorded on my phone. I didn’t have enough space on my phone, so one wouldn’t upload. Then, my phone started acting crazy (the home button wouldn’t work and I didn’t get notifications. And Chrome kept crashing on my computer. Long story short, I needed my parents to watch Nailah, my daughter, an extra night¬†so I could finally finish the video. (Side note: I’ve mentioned it before, but if you didn’t know, my parents watch Nailah for me a few days a week so I can get things done since I work from home).

Even though I didn’t really want her to go back, I knew I needed her to so I could finish. While I was going back and forth in my head about whether I should just let her stay home, I started feeling really guilty and like a shitty mama. This week, she was with her grandparents Monday evening and Tuesday, came home Wednesday, and went back Thursday evening. On one hand, I felt bad that she’d only been home one night; on the other hand, it’s kind of a nightmare trying to accomplish work-related items when she’s here. She’s two-years-old (hopefully, this needs no further explanation); and while I do get a lot done when she goes to sleep, it’s often an ordeal to actually get to that point. It can take up to an hour (’cause she’s fighting it and wants to play), and that leaves me irritated and frustrated.

Anyway, I’m in my head all afternoon, going back and forth, like,¬†What kind of mother are you to send her to her grandparents? By now, you should know how to get stuff done while she’s here. Other mothers successfully work from home with their kids every day with (seemingly) no help, so why can’t you?¬†Then I’m like,¬†Well, you can’t really compare your situation to theirs because you don’t know what they’re doing, or what they have going on. Maybe ¬†they do have help, or maybe their kids just play quietly or whatever while mommy is working. I don’t know. But I do know that that’s not how Nailah operates. And that’s okay. And it’s okay that I need help. Besides, it’s not like you’re sending her away every day or every weekend so you can go party or something. You’re being productive and doing it to help create a better life and future for her — and your family — and so she can see you being happy and fulfilled and living your dreams.¬†

If you’re a mamapreneur, I’m sure you get it: feeling guilty about the time you have to take a way from your kid(s), feeling like you’re either not doing enough or doing too much when it comes to work, and feeling stressed and drained from the internal conflict.

When I’m feeling this way, here are some things I do and try to remember:

It’s okay to need help. Unless you’re one of those superwomen who can do everything herself (ha!), we all need help sometimes. And that’s okay. That’s why we have family and why all these people are here on Earth. As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Stop comparing myself to people I see online. As I’ve heard and said before, we only see a highlight of people’s lives online. We don’t know what they’re dealing with or what goes on behind the scenes; we all share what we choose to share (and there’s nothing wrong with that). That’s why it’s important to focus on our lives and do our bests, which brings me to my next point…

I focus on doing my best. Because at the end of the day, that’s what’s most important. Period.

Know that life is about harmony, not balance.¬†This is life-changing advice from my sis, Akilah Richards, when she spoke at The Black Women’s Life Balance and Wellness Conference in 2013. Basically, there will be days when your kids (or partner or relative) will have most of your attention, and there’ll be days when work has most of your attention. So stop trying to make every day perfectly balanced — it’s just not possible. Instead, focus on being in harmony with what comes up and go with the flow. You’ll be a lot less stressed and overwhelmed.

“There is no perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children…What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply.” – Elder M. Russel Ballard

 

#CalmTip: Do a Walking Meditation

How to do walking meditation

According to MeditationOasis.com, walking meditation can be as profound as sitting meditation and has the advantage of bringing the meditative experience into your activity.

Here’s how to do it:

Before starting, spend some time standing still, becoming aware of your body. Take a few deep breaths, paying attention to the sensation of your breath. Allow your breath to return to normal and notice it. Next, bring your awareness back to your body, and notice how your body feels as you stand and what¬†sensations you’re feeling.

Begin walking at a relaxed, somewhat slow but normal pace. As you walk, pay attention to what you’re feeling in your body. When you feel your attention being drawn to the sights around you, refocus on what’s going on internally and the physical experience of walking. Try to notice how every little thing in your body feels.

Pay attention to how the soles of your feet feel. Become aware of the contact your feet make with your socks and/or shoes, the textures of the fabrics touching, the way your feet feel as they support the weight of your body and the sensations in them as you continue walking. Feel your entire foot, noticing how it feels as your foot lifts and moves forward. Next, bring your awareness up through each part of your body and notice the different sensations as you walk. Slowly scan your body from your feet to your head, letting go of any tension you feel and allowing your entire body to relax. If your mind is wandering, you can continue scanning your body and noticing any sensations you feel to bring your awareness back to your walking meditation.

“Walking outside in the fresh air is better than trudging ’round inside your brain.” – Sue Fitzmaurice

P.S. — I’ve created¬†a free audio¬†of the instructions for you to use while you’re doing your meditation. Download here –>¬†Walking Meditation Audio

#CalmTip: Know Your Stress Signals

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Stress (and worry and overwhelm and anxiety) manifests itself in different ways in each of us. When you become aware of your signals, you’ll be better able to handle your stressors when they come and be proactive instead of reactive to stressful situations.

Since¬†I’ve begun to notice what my signs of stress are, I’m able to do something to combat the stress¬†before it gets out of control.

Some of the signals are:

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Feeling really tired/exhaustion
  • Frustration
  • Poor quality sleep
  • Racing mind/difficulty concentrating
  • Reduced productivity
  • Shoulders hunched/tense
  • Clenched jaw

Read more signs here.

To recognize your own¬†signals more easily, regularly check in with yourself, and pay attention to what you’re doing and how you’re feeling — mentally and physically.

“When you release stress, you come home to yourself.” – Donna Eden

Photo Credit: 123rf.com/Michael Simons

How to Stress Less This Holiday Season: 6 Tips

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

In less than a week, the holiday season will officially be upon us (can you believe it?)! And with this time of year comes parties, gatherings, kids being home, shopping, decorating, baking, and cooking; in other words, a lot of hustle and bustle. With all that’s¬†going on, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, anxious, and to put everyone and everything before yourself.

But, even in all the craziness, there are ways you can stress less this holiday season. Here are a few:

1. Schedule your self-care.

When you have a lot going on, it’s easy to put yourself on the back burner. That’s why it’s important to make time to take care of you — and don’t cancel on yourself! And it doesn’t have to be a long time; you can read for 30 minutes, catch up on one of your TV shows, or just sit and do nothing for five or 10 minutes. Putting¬†yourself first will ensure that¬†you don’t get too frustrated or burn out.

2. Don’t try to do too much.

In other words, feel free to say no. If attending every gathering¬†is going to stress you out or overwhelm you, don’t¬†go.¬†Your family and friends should understand; and if they don’t, well, that’s their issue. Like I mentioned in this week’s calm tip, you have to do what’s best for you. Period.

3. Plan ahead

Set aside specific days and times for shopping, decorating, baking, cleaning, etc. That way, you’re not scrambling around at the last minute trying to get things done, and you’ll have more time for relaxing and to spend with loved ones.

4. Budget

Do not stress yourself and go broke buying things for the holidays, especially gifts. Create a budget, and stick to it. Don’t try to buy your kids’ (or anyone else’s) happiness with tons of gifts. Remember, even though it’s clich√©, it’s the thought and sentiment behind the gift that counts.

5. Don’t let go of healthy habits¬†

There’s so much good food this time of year (I can’t wait to get some dressing), and while it’s okay to indulge, try not to go overboard.

Some tips:

  • Don’t overeat (eat mindfully so you’ll know when you’re full).
  • Have a small, healthy snack before going to dinner or a gathering so you don’t overeat.
  • Get the rest you need.
  • Make time for physical activity a few times a week.

6. Practice mindfulness.

Focus on one task at a time, and do you best to stay in the present moment, concentrating on whatever is happening with no judgment. Just observe, breathe, and move through it. And, of course, meditate and practice yoga as a part of being more mindful.

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Check out my virtual workshop on this topic here.

 

 

Do you have any tips for dealing with stress around the holidays? Share them below by leaving a comment!

Photo Credit: arekmalang