By Dr. Stacey Jones
One good thing about the events of 2020, is that they have elevated the conversations about mental health in the Black community. Now that people are more motivated to take care of themselves and seek help, the flood of information about mental health and self-care may be overwhelming.
Here are some things that you can do right now.
1) Tailor your inputs: Control what is going into your body as much as you can. If you know that watching the news is going to raise your blood pressure, turn it off. If you know that eating a tomato will give you heartburn, don’t eat it. If you know that watching a violent movie will interfere with your sleep, don’t watch it.
By monitoring what goes in, you cut down the time and energy you will spend dealing with your mind and body’s reactions.
2) Circle of control: Get a piece of paper and draw a circle. On the inside write the things that you can control. On the outside of the circle draw the things over which you have no control. Get busy and stay focused on what is inside of the circle and practice accepting that you do not have control over what is outside of the circle.
3) Use money wisely: Have you ever said that you will save money when you get more of it and then you get more and find that you still don’t have money to save?
A lot of people spend money mindlessly. Wake up and think about every penny that you spend and ask yourself “Is this a need or a want?” For example, Netflix is a want and clean water is a need. Food is a need, but take out is a want. You may need a phone, but do you need an iPhone?
The more mindful you are about how you are spending money, the more control you will feel over your life. This may not seem like a self-care strategy, but financial wellness is the foundation upon which other forms of self-care are built. How much can you save if you have to? Can you make extra money if you need to? Having some money saved (start wherever you are and build on it) and getting out of debt can reduce stress.
4) Seek help: There are professionals trained to support individuals struggling with mental health issues. From problems brought on by recent stressors or other problems that are deeper, help is available. It will require making some calls and maybe meeting with more than one person to find the right fit, but that work is within your circle of control. You can start the search here: https://maryellenstrongfoundation.org/get-help/.
Dr. Stacey Jones is a Clinical Psychologist. She is the Founder and Executive Director of the Mary Ellen Strong Foundation (MESF). MESF focuses on increasing the number of Black licensed mental health professionals in Wisconsin and Minnesota through professional development and wellness programming to combat provider burnout.