Sometimes the steps we take to boost our mental wellness might look a little different from others. It’s not just about having a spa day or getting your nails done. It’s an ongoing process of unlearning many of the concepts that were passed down through multigenerational racial trauma, constant recovery of systematic oppression we experience on a regular basis and protecting ourselves from the constant trauma we relive as the media repetitively displays racially motivated hate crimes. Sure, getting your hair done or relaxing pool side is a wonderful way to get a short-term boost, however, by implementing these healing habits you can make mental wellness part of your overall lifestyle.
Say No Without Guilt
Learning to say no without an explanation is a form of self-care. When it comes melanated women we have an especially hard time saying this word to family, but that is exactly the area that we need more practice in. Saying no when you know you need to does a few things:
1). It teaches people how to treat you.
2). It teaches you how to treat yourself.
3). It models self-care for your children and/or those around you.
Eat a Balanced Diet
There is a great deal of documented research that indicates a correlation between food and mood. More specifically, according to the findings of a 2014 study that looked at diet and depression in over 3,000 people, it concluded that long-term exposure to an imbalanced diet can be a risk factor for depression. It’s important to note that when we talk about healthy, we mean balanced. So, this doesn’t mean you can never have the foods you love. It just means it’s best to do so in moderation.
Don’t Overextend Yourself
For generations and generations Black women have been both directly and indirectly taught to care for others more than we care for ourselves. It stems from slavery, when we were seen as workers and women of service instead of human. As a result, of this learned behavior, we have a tendency to equate our worth with fixing, helping or saving someone else, thereby constantly overextending ourselves. It might be helpful to understand that just because you are available doesn’t mean that you are free. Make the most of your free time by using it sometimes to just pour into yourself. Additionally, don’t dishonor yourself by overcommitting to too many people or tasks. This is where learning to say no without guilt can be helpful.
Limit Your Time With Negative People
Listen, it’s hard to remain positive around negative people! People who are constantly complaining and always looking for or focused on the problem can leave you believing that there is no solution to any challenge that arise. Typically, they want to spend more time bringing you down about everything that is wrong in life and your situation rather hyping you up to help you find a solution. Being positive doesn’t mean that you can never vent or complain about the challenges in your life. It just means that’s not all you do when it comes to those challenges. Surround yourself with people who give you a more balanced perspective when it comes to those challenges instead of spending all of their time focused on the problem.
Don’t Watch The News All The Time
You’re still Black even if you don’t watch every protest, news story about the latest police brutality hate crime against Black people, or the court case trying the police officers who killed innocent Black people. You don’t have to relive that trauma over and over again to feel like you’re doing your part. Give yourself permission to take a break from the news. You might opt to learn about the many notable contributions of Black people instead, listen to an impactful podcast or simply indulge in some self-care.
Balance Strength and Vulnerability
Learning when it’s okay to go at it alone and when it’s okay to ask for help is a big part of your mental wellness journey. Historically, Black women have been made to feel like they have to do everything themselves, but this doesn’t have to be the case. You don’t have to be the self described superwoman and you don’t have to be a perpetual victim either. There is a middle ground here where you can learn when to encourage yourself, but you also are able to recognize when you need help and be vulnerable enough to lean on your village for support.