“I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder my freshman year in college, after having my first panic attack. The ambulance hauled me out of the dorms, with tubes up my nose. My boyfriend, at the time, was right alongside me, holding my hand. It wasn’t until the next summer that I was prescribed anti-anxiety and antidepressant meds.”
I want to be transparent in this post because this is something that I, and (according to data), most African-Americans struggle with; mental health issues. What happens when we don’t know what to do with the feelings of uneasiness, nervousness, and overall discomfort? It affects our minds and even sometimes our bodies. From insomnia because of a chatty brain at night, to stomach/digestive issues.
Despite the stigmas that have been associated with mental illness, people are finding themselves on more couches for therapy sessions instead of binge watching yet another rerun season of their favorite show.
While therapy can be a helpful tool, you have to know that most of the healing will come from applying what you have learned from therapy. Even if you are not currently in mental health therapy, it is essentially up to you to do the work. You are responsible for your life…and how it’s lived. So, what are some tools you can use at home, to help deal and/or heal from anxiety?
Check out these 5 tips below!
1. Start a gratitude journal.
Every morning, upon your grand rising, incorporate an #AttitudeofGratitude in your morning ritual. You can start by writing at least 1 thing that you are grateful for. and then read it aloud to yourself in the mirror. By consciously practicing gratitude, we can train the brain to attend selectively to positive emotions and thoughts, thus reducing anxiety and feelings of apprehension. To learn more about how Gratitude has positive effects on your overall well being, click here.
Sometimes, we need to express our gratitude in private, to reconnect and ground ourselves to our reality. In order to do that, we must eliminate distractions, such as social media.
2. Do a social media detox
We’ve all been there with social media. We either “can’t keep up” or it’s just “too much”. Or maybe we check our social media apps every 2 – 5 minutes when we didn’t receive a notification (checks phone as I am typing this) or we have fomo. Speaking of fomo, researchers have discovered that most people who use social media, often times compares themselves to others.
While staying up-to-date on things that concern you is important, too much of anything is unhealthy. (turns off phone to finish writing this post). If you find yourself doing any of what’s been listed above, you may need a social media detox. I highly suggest writing a list of at least 5 – 10 things that you can do instead of being on social media. When you want to reach for your phone, reach for a book instead. OR maybe re-organize your room, catch up on some tv shows, call a loved one, spend time journaling, decorate your room, ANYTHING! Just something healthy that will fill that void of instant gratification, lack of inspiration, unhealthy comparison cycles, and fomo.
3. Stimulate your mind
If it’s not making you better, it might be influencing you to be bitter. In other words sis, limit your time of idolizing a “hot girl summer” and listen to music that will calm your mind, body, and spirit. “what you focus on will become your reality” and while I enjoy while Cash Sh*t and Freak Nasty every now and again, I’ve also found the Therapyforblackgirls, BeFree Podcast, and A Little Juju Podcast to be exceptionally stimulating and thought provoking. These are black women who are talking about day to day issues that I can not only relate to, but think about during conversations with others.
Spotify also has playlists for sleeping, focusing, and working out. I listen to their sleep playlists often, and I also never knew how much I like the sound of the blow dryers, office fan, and the ambiance of a coffee shop lol.
This shifts your focus, stimulates your mind, increases focus, energy, and depending on the time of day you listen, allows you to sleep peacefully.
4. Channel your divine feminism
You may not know it yet, but you’re probably good at making earrings, headbands, shirts, or designing graphics (using Photoshop even). YouTube and Pinterest are the straight up Go-to for DIY projects. If crafting isn’t your thing, check out the vegan version of your favorite recipes. Check out this simple recipe for making a sugar scrub. And who knows, you may find that you like your new hobby and turn it into a profit ;).
You may also be interested in taking a deeper spiritual meditating for 15 mins a day, using roll on essential oils like lemon or citrus to stimulate your senses, lavender to calm them, or even learning more about how your ancestors dealt with anxiety. They may have not called it “anxiety” but some of our people made tonics and medicines with herbs and rootz to “take the edge off” (Because trust and believe they dealt with it and dealt with it).
Also grab your INSTANT DOWNLOAD of the 7 day self-love affirmations here. These affirmations were culturally curated for the black wombman and can help ease anxiety and increase self-awareness.
5. Schedule some time for self-care
After a long day at work or even a long week, find some time for yourself to just do…nothing.
Just like when you’re exercising on the machines at Planet Fitness, there’s a cool down portion before you get off the machine. Just like your body needs to “cool down” so does your mind. Just like that cool down portion is timed (and scheduled) so does the one for your brain need to be. This will help your mind form a habit. It’ll know by 10PM, it’s quiet time. And over time, you’ll gradually be able to quiet your mind from all of the chatter.
Another way to decompress is to do a brain dump before bed. It doesn’t have to be in an order or list, you’re just dumping out all the things that’s been bothering you, or maybe that you’re excited about something and you cant stop thinking about it. Write it all out.
However you do it, make yourself a priority. if only for 10 minutes a day.
Grab your INSTANT DOWNLOAD of the 7 day self-love affirmations HERE
While these are just a few tips I’ve shared here, I want to reiterate that dealing with anxiety is not a cookie cutter, one size fits all experience. It affects us all differently. With that, these tips that I share are in no way a substitute for seeking professional help or discontinuing your doctors recommendations.
What have you found to be useful in dealing with your anxiety? Be Unspoken in the comments below!
About the Author
Tajhae, who also goes by her IFA name Adeola, is a self-published author, Student at U of M-Flint, TDV prevention public speaker, aspiring blogger, and Founder of “Self-Love for the Black Wombman” a community on Facebook dedicated to assisting the black wombman who is on her healing journey with all things about self-love. When she’s not “saving the world, by saving herself” Tajhae is either enjoying a vegetarian dish, binge-watching #RHOA, or planning her next escape from adulthood.