Collectively, many in the Black community are constantly feeling tired, broken, lost, and tested. When considering the country’s current political climate, on top of a presidential election year and a global pandemic, Black people are processing a lot of emotional trauma.
It is never a sign of weakness to struggle with your mental health. The stigma surrounding mental illnesses has created incredibly dangerous consequences. Many people assume their stress and anxieties will eventually disappear when ignored or repressed. Instead, it shows up in the body through headaches, sleep disturbance, fatigue, and even hormonal changes. In addition, these behaviors can become habits, making it harder to be vulnerable in the future. To fight this stigma, we need to normalize having conversations about mental health with family members, trusted peers, and professional support systems.
There are several things I have found effective in optimizing my mental health over the past few months. For one, I practice healthy eating habits and a consistent sleep schedule. This is not an elaborate plan, but it helps me to maintain a balanced daily routine. Secondly, I have prioritized my individual needs. It took a lot of time to figure out what worked best for me, but it helped to get a mental health check-up with a doctor, reexamine my relationships and friendships, and set personal boundaries with those individuals.
To realistically work on your mental health, you have to accept that the process is not linear. Even with a perfect plan, there will be bad days, but it is important to face them and grow from the experience.
Another practice I have adopted to improve my emotional and mental health was creating a new relationship with social media. This meant setting firm boundaries with my followers and myself by unfollowing people who made me feel like there was something I needed to change about my appearance or lifestyle. I no longer consumed content from influencers who created perfect versions of their lives because it is much more important to me to honor my authentic self, the version that does not always have the best days. Now I have found creators who promote self-appreciation and positively reflect my interests, and it has made all the difference.
Additionally, it is important to be tactful with your time on social media by monitoring how many hours you spend scrolling through Instagram and Twitter. Consuming mass amounts of information, especially harmful content, can play a huge role in your perception of self and others.
I am a Black woman who is often treated as less than for merely existing in my natural state, and I am tired. Whether it be for comedic purposes, or jokes or songs, Black women have been torn down for far too long. We can no longer give attention to this harmful, hateful noise. Black women are so beautiful in all their colors, shapes, and sizes. They are powerful and worthy and deserve to be loved, supported, and reminded of how amazing they are.
While it is often easier to point out the things that divide us, together, we are in pain. I encourage you to send love and light to every Black person in your life, stranger or friend. Be kind to them. The only way we will get through this is by providing spaces to share our emotions productively. Creating positive environments does not mean we always have to be happy, but it means we can authentically express ourselves without fear of judgment and build each other up.
Let’s take care of our minds and bodies. Let’s begin to heal.
Image credits: @artbyprincella on Instagram