Black Women Health and Wellness

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Let’s face it…the health and wellness of black women is not a priority of the society that we live in. Black women face the intersection of gender and race minority (double minority). If you are an immigrant, such as myself, you stand in the center of a 3-way minority junction. The term “intersectionalilty” highlights intersections such as these very well for people of color. Health and wellness for black women is an area that is sorely needs more support.

Health and Wellness

How do you ensure health and wellness for a group that is mostly invisible to society? Black women become visible when we are viewed as the “angry, black woman,” “loud and belligerent black woman,” “strong black woman,” “big-bosomed, big-boned, and wise older black woman,” “promiscuous, booty-popping and oversexualized black woman,” and the “rude, disrespectful, and aggressive black woman.” None of these stereotypes are positive and truly represent the dynamic mysticism of black women.

With the cloak of invisibility thrust upon black women, the scarcity of services targeted to and available for black women presents a real social problem for us and society. And, sometimes the quality of services that are available is so meager, it may as well be non-existent. Issues with services available to black women include cost of services, distance to travel to obtain services, quality of services, insurance coverage, stereotypes and stigmas. All present obstacles that need to be overcome to ensure proper access to suitable services. ...

5 Self-care Tips for Mothers Everywhere

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So, in this month – May – we celebrate Mother’s Day in the United States and parts of the Caribbean. Many of us will be heading out to seek out the perfect Mother’s Day presents, scheduling our Mother’s Day specials (brunches, dinners, massages, etc), and generally obsessing about the perfect Mother’s Day for our loved ones. So, as a mother myself, and surrounded by my own mother and mother-in-law, of course, I will be doing the same!

Of course, I had to join the Mother’s Day festivities. What can we say about mothers? They are awesome. We know there are mothers who have this name in roles only. But we have to give thanks for the women in our lives that love us unconditionally and support us. Most of these precious women tend to care for everyone but themselves. Society has taught women that caring for themselves is selfish and inglorious. But, we are here to dispel that myth and remind all the mothers out there that taking time for yourselves is essential to practicing proper mental health. We cannot pour from an empty cup. Period.

To all my black women, we are one of the most neglected groups in the world. Click To Tweet

To all my black women, we are one of the most neglected groups in the world. Black women walk a tight rope not experienced by other women. The tension and stress that black women live with is unparalleled. We tend to get lost in translation in racial issues; in gender issues, we still get lost, and many do not even consider ethnicity. To black women, I say that, “We are enough.” For black mothers, we carry a societal burden that both stiffens our pride and frightens us beyond words. I am here to tell all black mothers that we do not have to suffer in silence. The archetypal strong woman and angry black woman are roles that we do not subscribe to. For we are strong enough to pave our own paths. We seek more than what has been allotted to us, and for this vulnerability is no longer shunned. For without vulnerability, we cannot experience life to its fullest. ...

Universal Laws That Govern The World

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Once we have made the decision to improve ourselves and our lives, changes must be made within ourselves and our lives to accomplish this goal. One of the issues that I have identified with the black community is that we do not take the time to educate ourselves about how the world works. We know that there are obstacles that stand in our way because of issues beyond our Circle of Influences (reference to Steven R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), however, we should never let obstacles or fears stand in our way of pursuing the lives we want for ourselves. The universal law affects us all. Instead of holding on to the victim mentality, it is necessary for us to change our mindsets and focus on what we want rather than on the things we do not want. After all, focusing on the things that we do not want is a sure way of getting those very things because we get what we focus on.

Here are some universal laws that we should all get to know because these laws govern the way the universe works. Life balances itself because there are principles and laws built into the creation of the universe. And if we really start to pay attention, we will begin to see that these laws really do exist and have direct impacts on our circumstances. The universal laws are not based in religion but have existed since the beginning of time. The black community tends to focus on the things we lack because human mindset is skewered towards the negative and also because we have been conditioned by slave ideologies to focus on a scarcity mindset. ...

Mental Health and Spirituality

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Mental health and spirituality are factors that affect our daily lives. Our community has longed viewed spirituality and a relationship to God as the sole answer for dealing with difficult times. However, I am a firm believer that faith without works is dead. Mental health and spirituality share a close relationship. Hence, the push in recent years to include spirituality in therapy. Clinicians are ethically bound to address cultural concerns that affect clients. Spirituality does not relate to religion – which is institution based – but focuses on the broader understanding that humans are spiritual beings and possess a soul that is connected to the larger universe.

Spirituality

In the Black community, spirituality has long been a crucial part of our lives. Our spirituality connects us to our ancestors and to God. Spirituality has helped past generations overcome severe traumas. Our connections with God have been used as reasons as to why we do not need to seek any further assistance. However, spirituality is a holistic experience that should factor into all areas of our lives as it affects how we view ourselves, and our connections to others and the world-at-large. In addition, it is not that our ancestors did not have mental health issues, these issues would be undiagnosed due to past mental health misconceptions as well as lack of access to supportive services.

It is not that our ancestors did not have mental health issues, these issues would be undiagnosed due to past mental health misconceptions Click To Tweet

Spirituality operates on faith. Faith in something bigger than ourselves. Faith in understanding that much of life is built on unseen principles that govern our world. It is easy to just rely on faith for changes and just as easy to say that God is not present in our lives when we don’t get our desired results. This removes any control from us personally and places it solely on God. But belief in the principle of connectedness highlights that each person has a place and a contribution to make. God gives us freewill to make choices about our lives. These principles demonstrate that God wants us to play an active role in our own lives and we cannot do this solely by faith. ...

The Difference Between Feelings and Emotions

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I wonder what’s the emotional experience you have from looking at this picture?

I wonder what feeling this picture triggers in your body?

I have met many people who are unaware that feelings and emotions are not the same thing. It is my belief that this is important knowledge that we should all have. We need to understand these subtle differences to help us learn to regulate our emotions so that we are not consumed by them which allows us to lead healthier lives and experience deeper relationships with our loved ones. In daily life, we often use the words feelings and emotions interchangeably but there are differences in the words that should be noted.

Emotions and Feelings

It may be easier to start with emotions. Emotions are our unconscious reactions that our bodies have to stimuli. Dr. Antonio R. Damasio – neurologist and chair of University of Iowa’s neurology department – noted that the feelings we experience in our bodies are formed after we have already had an emotional response to particular stimuli. He gives the basic example of being afraid, we all know the usual physical responses that our bodies experience, heart racing, sweating, and dry mouths among other things, our bodies automatically create these responses with no help from us. We only become aware that we are feeling fearful after our brain has registered these physical changes. It is also important to note that not all stimuli are external as noted by Dr. Damasio.

Emotions are our unconscious reactions that our bodies have to stimuli Click To Tweet

So, our brain processes these physical changes as it scans the body and we recognize the physical feelings we are experiencing, but the emotional experience we have from past experiences is what we use to label these feelings. ...

5 Reasons Why You Need A Mental Health Checklist

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I created a Mental Health Checklist for the Gray Matthews Project that can aid in our overall journey to become our best selves. Before I get to why you need this checklist, let me clarify what a checklist is and what a mental health checklist is.

Checklist: A checklist is simply a list of tasks or in this case, responsibilities to be checked off or monitored.

Mental Health Checklist: A mental health checklist is a list of items that can be monitored or referred to, to ensure that we are utilizing healthy practices to holistically care for ourselves.

These are five great reasons why we can all benefit from the use of a mental health checklist. Click To Tweet

Okay, now that we’ve gotten the basics out of the way, here are 5 reasons why you need a Mental Health Checklist.

  1. Having a checklist clearly identifies the tasks or responsibilities that need to be done. This creates an easy and simple system of staying on top of our tasks.
  2. A mental health checklist should encompass all areas of our lives, that means, emotional health, behavioral health, spiritual health, physical health, and relational health because mental health affects our whole lives.
  3. A mental health checklist can help us organize our lives. If the checklist is as holistic as it should be, it will include all areas of our lives. As we do the necessary work of going through the checklist and making changes accordingly, to bring ourselves closer to our best selves, we will find that our lives will shed a lot of unnecessary things, such as relationships, habits, emotions, and behaviors.
  4. A mental health checklist can assist us with getting to know ourselves. We may not realize it, but many people walking around have no idea who they are. Many of us are so uncomfortable in our skins, we do not want to take the time to get to know ourselves because we may not like what we see. A checklist can be utilized subjectively, so the reader can go through the checklist at the reader’s pace. But the reader has to commit to completing the checklist for it to beneficial.
  5. This brings me to my last point of healing. As we work through the checklist and make the changes, we begin to get to know ourselves better. We begin to identify areas of past hurts and vulnerabilities, we begin to find areas for improvement. As we learn about these areas, we can begin the necessary work of healing ourselves and our wounds so that we can become the whole persons that we were meant to be. Being healthier individuals allow us to feel more confident in ourselves and our environments, we begin to feel comfortable in our skins, and we can begin to develop healthier relationships that will us maintain the positivity that we have learnt.

These are five great reasons why we can all benefit from the use of a mental health checklist. Of course, there are more reasons and benefits that manifest themselves as we do the work on ourselves. We must be willing to do the work and we must be willing to be honest with ourselves about what we learn to really benefit from this tool.

The Mental Health Checklist by the Gray Matthews Project is simple yet comprehensive and user-friendly. It is not a test nor a tool for diagnosis. It is a tool to help us learn about ourselves and our decisions; it helps us learn how we can stop making unconscious choices and develop awareness to help us make better choices for ourselves and our lives. Subscribe now and get the Gray Matthews Project’s Mental Health Checklist and begin your journey of self-discovery. ...