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How To Strengthen Maintain And Protect Your Mental Health | Black Women And Mental Health

The era of positive vibes only, leveling up, and chakra alignment, are becoming popular common practices used as techniques to nurture spiritual and mental health. However those with very little to no knowledge of these terms may struggle with putting these strategies into practice. I am a visionary, so when first learning of things such as meditation, therapy as an option, and holistic approaches everything seemed taboo and as if someone were speaking to me in a foreign language.

Some of you may have even seen various sources mention these practices, leaving their audience mystified or baiting them to purchase a service to learn more. Personally, I need to see what this looks like; in other words I need “tangible techniques”. Ones that offer visuals to measure progress and identify when my mental energy is in the deficit. Check out some of my methods and feel free to share yours in the comments.

Journal Writing is probably my most effective tool. Journaling provides a personal platform for your voice to be heard, to visualize your thoughts and feelings, pinpoint what may be bothering you, and identifying whether it’s you that may be the toxic one. Journal writing promotes self accountability which is vital in mental health maintenance and structure, as well as allowing for vulnerable moments which are also necessary in combating the notion that you must be “strong” 100% of the time. Journaling helps in creating/discovering your original thoughts; often times we don’t realize how much we take in from our environment and rarely sit to sort out what is ours versus what we are conditioned to think, believe, feel, and process as our own.

Support Groups affectionately referred to as “sister circles”, “my tribe or support system”; is suggested to promote healthy interaction. Support groups can come in the form of family, friends, romantic relations, professional acquaintances, even outsiders. It is important to engage with others to learn and grow. None of us have all the answers and through human contact we are taught different strategies that can be used to improve our quality of life. You need people to bounce those ideas/thoughts off of and feedback.

Be sure that those a part of the circle are adding something of value and you as well. Try and link with others who are successful in areas where you aspire to develop, people who “practice what they preach”. There’s nothing worse amongst personal choices than aligning yourself with a person/group that is not serving as a positive vessel in your life.

Therapy/Meditation/Alone and Quiet Time If therapy is financially feasible, then utilize it; having a healthy verbal outlet guided by licensed professionals trained to help is a wonderful resource. A therapist is another great form of mental support. Meditation is good too. This is one where I needed some form of visuals, I’ve come to learn that meditation is different for each individual, preferences vary from complete silence, recited chanting, music played at a certain frequency; some people reflect over their thoughts, while others may focus on a specific object/idea for a period of time.

The cool thing about meditation is that it can be customized to your unique needs. Alone time is needed to reflect and free the mind of external noise and distractions. Have you ever observed or perhaps you are/were this person; someone who is constantly involved or engulfing themselves into the woes and endeavors of others as a form of escapism, to avoid facing their own baggage. News flash you can’t outrun yourself. Spending time alone,at times in silence allows for the mind to rest, cut down on over stimulation, and reflect over where you are mentally. Many of us rarely take the time to listen and find out, leading to the warning signs of a mental break being overlooked. Check in with yourself, don’t wait for someone else to ask, “how are you”?

Privacy As the saying goes, “a private life is a happy life”; Is a true statement, especially as it relates to mental health. In the age of social media where being down with O.P.P. (other people’s privacy) is the new norm; telling someone to save something for self can result in being given the side eye. Leaving parts of your life to the imagination is valuable to protecting and maintaining your mental health. Inspite how unbothered one may act; to an extent we’re all susceptible to the opinions of others.

This has been displayed countless times on popular blogs and social sites where some of the most prominent, successful, wealthy, creative, respected, and affluent public figures find themselves responding to naysayers and haters; no matter how classy the “clap back” about their personal life, often times those personal moments are shared by the figures themselves. Although many of us do not have platforms to their capacity, the laws are universal. Share at your discretion, people will take shots regardless, but never supply the ammunition.

Hobbies/Time Management/Organization I mention hobbies frequently, however I find that they serve multiple purposes; one being that when you are occupied with positive productivity this lowers the chances of building unhealthy attachments, especially those created out of boredom. Hobbies cause for you to evaluate your genuine interests and constructive use for time. Time management and organization aids in mental health maintenance. I’m not suggesting that you be a neat freak with a severe case of OCD but I do advocate for order and direction.

Usually those who are all over the place mentally show it as it reflects in their daily routine, housekeeping, professionalism, and ability to arrive in a timely fashion.Create a daily itinerary, purchase a planner, put post-it’s in frequently used areas of your home and/or office, set reminders on your phone. Chaotic living tugs at your mental state; being in a constant disarray, hustle and bustle, is unnecessary wear and tear.

Medicinal Aids I’m not one to tell anyone to ditch their meds. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a consumer of prescription or holistic medical approaches. I’ve seen firsthand on numerous occasions where the medicine will suppress the symptoms, but if you are not doing the mental work the likelihood of your mental health improving is slim to none.Your brain is a muscle and just like the others, exercise is required!

Toxic Relationships Should be removed in the same manner you’d detox your body of toxins. Ridding yourself of toxic people works the same way; relationships that pose a mental strain while draining your energy are of no service to you. You cannot output on a low battery without reciprocity. For example, if your cell phone battery is at 8% you may want to reschedule that phone interview with your future employer. I know some of you may feel like, “I’ll take my chances” or “I gotta do what needs to be done.” The point is you don’t want to risk being cut off in the midst of an important moment.

Your mental health works the same way, and it’s sad to say but some take better care of their cellphones than their mental health. If you are involved in a toxic relationship, this unnecessary strain can increase the chances of you being cut off aka a mental break. I understand that tolerance level is relative to the individual; but please note that having a high tolerance for unnecessary bullshit is nothing to brag about. While life is filled with ups and down, the key is to save that energy for unexpected curveballs. You don’t see professional boxers going around picking fights with an everyday Joe.

Lastly, don’t be so hard on yourself. In an article published by The Atlantic, “Black Women Key to Easing Military Suicides?’(June 12, 2012), author Stephanie Czekalinski states that Black women have the lowest suicide rates in the country and while it isn’t clear as to why ( we know, LOL), Veteran Affairs hopes to recreate portions of Black Women’s culture that can help in suicide prevention amongst military vets. Salute Sistahs! Although there is always room for improvement, this is a testimony to our mental resilience. We’ve made it thus far, YOU GO GIRL!!!

A' cylo ( ˈā/ˈsil/ lō) – “I am a writer with a passion for using my voice to speak on the issues many refuse. My hobbies include writing, dancing, and gardening. A fan of all shades of blue; with a slight addiction to popcorn, chips and salsa. I teach but more importantly I learn; continuously. Did I mention I'm a writer; and I'm serious about my content?!"

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